Georginio Wijnaldum, hereafter to be known as George for the purposes of both my sanity and a lack of time. What is there to say? Signed as someone who scored a double figures for Newcastle in their relegation bound campaign last season, there was a bit of hope that he was here to boost numbers from midfield. Without having seen a lot of him, there was an expectation that he would swash some buckles.
That expectation waned early doors. Seemingly anonymous against Arsenal, held accountable by some at Burnley (as previously stated, the Burnley game is not regarded as a real event for me and I’m trying my best to keep it that way) and barely visible against Spurs, some fans were questioning what he was there for. Indeed there were match going friends of mine who were resolute that he should be nowhere near the team when Leicester continued their victory season by opening the Main Stand for us.
Yet there he was. For many this was their first match day view of him. I made an effort to keep an eye on him for the first twenty minutes or so, curious as to what he did for us. After that opening spell, I gave up. I realised that I’d see him all the time anyway and I’d realised what he was here for. His purpose obvious when not restricted by the limits of Sky or BT’s production teams. If Sadio Mané is the shot of adrenaline that we desperately needed, my mate George is the pulse. The tempo setter. Scrap the anatomical references, think of a band. A drummer to Mané’s wild guitar solos.
The majority of our good work against Leicester, incorporated young George. To bastardise a quote from a certain Bill Shankly, he wasn’t just here to carry a piano but he was proving quite capable of rattling off a tune if required. Sitting in that midfield three and setting off attack after attack, always looking for the right ball and rarely looking hurried. He gets forward too, often seen bursting past Bobby and Daniel Sturridge to get into decent positions. He’s yet to get the goal that such industry merits, but he’s creating space for others.
He was at it again against Chelsea, though there were a lot of reasons to look elsewhere that night. I was more aware of him creeping into shot when we were going forward. Maybe I was too harsh to judge those producers. I doubt it.
The point is, he was obviously a very good player in a below par Newcastle team. He’ll never be a highlights player unless he’s grabbing two or three in a game. There’s a chance that we saw the goals he got last season (all at home for the record, hopefully we get to go to St James’ Park in the cup and he bags a hat full), and decided that he needs to bag one in three in order to prove his value. Turns out that he doesn’t, he’s there to set our pace and manage our attacks. Not necessarily to finish them off. We’ve got proper rock stars for that, while he remains just out of focus except for the occasional drum solos.
Keep banging out that rhythm George lad, you never know, it may yet be a chart topper.
Written by @BigLee01