Just read an interesting article from ESPN telling us what a brilliant start Erling Haaland got off to for Manchester City with two goals in his debut at West Ham.
Brilliant!. That made me crack a smile.
Yes, first week over and the Norwegian superstar is riding high on the list of top scorers in the Premier League.
I had a bit of a giggle at that!
Then I saw Roy Keane suggesting that Erling Haaland could score 30 or even 40 goals this season.
That elicited what I believe the youth of today refer to as a “LOL”. I actually laughed out loud.
The wife asked me if everything was okay.
Is this guy really worth the hype? So I watched the match highlights. Following his second goal the commentator roared, “welcome to Manchester, Erling Haaland, you are going to be a superstar”.
So now I’m on the floor.
So what was the reason for my fits of laughter? After all, Erling Haaland is an exceptional player who had an exceptional game for the current champions, against the team who finished 7th in the league last season, and had converted 50% of his chances.
Well, the problem is, I had just watched the Fulham vs Liverpool game, where the Cottagers’ number 9 had pretty much done exactly the same, but he did it against the team that finished 2nd in the league, he did it playing for a team that had just been promoted, and he had converted 66% of his chances.
Where was the ESPN coverage of Mitro?
Where was Roy Keane telling the world how many goals Mitro could go on to score?
Then, my mind being the mass of short circuiting neurons that it is, I very briefly considered if we had made a mistake letting him go? But then I remembered the three goals he scored for Fulham during the entire last season that he was in the Prem.
81 goals in 101 matches for Fulham in the Championship suggests that Mitro is the kind of striker that every Premier league club would want on their books. Almost a goal a game, even in the Championship, is pretty special. But there were no big stories of him being chased by the big boys.
Unfortunately, his last two seasons in the Prem produced just 14 goals in 64 matches.
I love Mitro. I think he’s a great character and I check on how he’s playing every week, and I really do like to see him doing well. Trouble is, I also love my grandkids, but I wouldn’t want the Geordie nation depending on them to get us into Europe.
Is this going to be the season he takes the Premier League by the scruff of the neck and shows us what he is really capable of, or as with the last couple of seasons in the top tier, will the opposition figure out that he’s no threat outside the box and they just need to out-muscle him closer to goal to keep him contained?
Let’s see where he is compared to Haaland in say five weeks time. I hope he does well, then maybe we’ll all conveniently forget his previous poor form at the highest level and have a crack at the previous owner for getting rid of him!
However, he’s not the only former Newcastle United player that got away, is he?
Six years ago Kevin Mbabu had made a grand total of three appearances for us before being shipped out back home to Switzerland. Mbabu has now joined Mitro at Fulham.
Then there’s Adam Armstrong. Another player we all had great hopes for – even more so because he was from Chapel House, just a stone’s throw from the hallowed turf. Sadly, after almost four years out on loan we decided to cash in on Arma, disposing of him to Blackburn for a meagre couple of million. His time with Southampton might suggest that had we held on to him he might not have turned out to be the local hero we were looking for.
Then of course we have Ivan Toney, another youngster that we “didn’t give a chance” to.
After just two first team appearances, and what must have seemed like an eternity out on loan, Toney was sold to Peterborough for around half a million. “The Posh” couldn’t believe their luck when he was banging goals in every other game AND they managed to sell him on to Brentford for ten times what they paid. Should we have stuck with him or did he need the permanent move down the leagues to “find himself”?
The truth is, none of these players “excelled” during their time at St James’ Park and given the circumstances at the time we were probably right to move them on. Nobody can see into the future.
They all have the chance, this season, to show us what could have been, which is particularly poignant considering how much we are struggling to get the right players in.
So what was our problem back then? Were we impatient? Did we expect too much? Or did we just not know how to bring the talent on?
What is the accepted max when it comes to a player going out on loan before we accept defeat and move him on?
This all brings us nicely round to Elliot Anderson. Played for the U21s, went out on loan to League Two Bristol Rovers, now looking at a slot in the first team squad. Obviously, as the likes of Gayle and Mitro have shown us, there’s a huge difference between the leagues. Did Anderson benefit from being in League Two at all? The lower leagues may not be as skilful but he will have played some much more physical football during his time there.
Is it just too big a jump to the Prem? Should he have maybe spent time in the Championship?
Or is it possible that the deciding factor when it comes to this youngster is what our manager does with him?
A few games on the bench to get used to the speed and skill that he will come up against, not to mention the intensity and the atmosphere?
A few cameos at the end of the games?
Then, later in the season, depending on how he does, maybe a start against one of the sides who are struggling down the bottom of the league?
Do we need to bring in a replacement for Shelvey, or do we just have to have a little faith in the likes of Anderson and the Longstaff brothers?
Either way – it’s going to be an interesting season.