Everybody knows that Albert Luque has had a nightmare two years at Newcastle â€“ and quite humiliating at times for the Spaniard.
Glenn Roeder last year basically gave up on Albert and he was hardly ever on the bench â€“ hardly good use of a player that costÂ â‚¤9.5M from Deportivo two years ago. But nobody could really blame Roeder given Luque’s percieved poor attitude.
However, it turns out that Sam Allardyce had been tracking both Eto and Luque a few years ago when they were both at Real Mallorca – and if he had the money he would have liked to have signed both of them for Bolton.
So Sam knew a lot more about Luque than we may have thought and Sam has made it his job to see what’s gone wrong with Luque andÂ get the best out of him.Â That’s the job of every coach â€“ to get the very best out of them individually – however they do it.
Given a rare start by Sam last night as striker alongside Martins – both of them looked consummate strikers as all 3 goals in the first half were brilliantly dispatched. The Spaniard scored twiceÂ and having been frozen out during the Glenn Roeder regime, he showed very good character to come back like he did in the first half. And this with our other top strikers Owen, Viduka and Ameobi in the stands – this could be an awesome season for United as far as goals are concerned.
This is what Sam said after the game:
â€œI knew more about Albert than I did Obafemi Martins because I have been watching him since he was a young player at Real Mallorca about seven years ago,â€
â€œHe was playing alongside Samuel Eto and I remember saying at the time that I would like to sign them both, but they were out of our price range.â€
â€œIt has been interesting for me to see how theyâ€™ve both developed.”
” It was strange to see Albert at Newcastle and never playing.”
” It has been my job as manager to find out why.â€
As we’ve said before about man management – you usually get out of people what you expect. Roeder didn’t think much of Luque’s attitude but Sam obviously rates Luque – which for Albert will be a huge confidence booster. Albert recently canceled his honeymoon and put in extra training sessions to get fit â€“ and Sam has praised his attitude in training. Strange things seem toÂ happen when a new manager comes in and tells you he thinks you’re a very good player.
Luque has started just six Premier League games since joining Newcastle in a Â£9.5M move from Deportivo La CoruÃ±a two years ago and did not start a single top-flight fixture under Roeder last season.
Sam sees Luque as a great challenge of his man management skills and added:
â€œAt the moment Iâ€™m just trying to get him fitter,â€
â€œIf we can get him fitter, he will feel better physically, then he will feel better mentally and we will see the skills that Albert Luque can produce more often.â€
â€œItâ€™s up to him if he wants to keep going through the pain barrier as he has been in recent days.”
“When heâ€™s fit, it will help his mental situation and the football talent will emerge at the end of it.â€
Luque wasÂ good last night against Celtic and though he may never be someone to throw his weight around – like Newcastle fans love to see – he obviously has some great footballingÂ skills and can be a deadly striker and presumably a very good left winger.
“It’s up to him whether he wants to go through the pain barrier like he has in the last few days.”
“We’ll work on his fitness and then the talent will emerge.”
There’s nothing people â€“ and fans â€“ like to see more than someone making a come-back from the depths of failure â€“ and if Luque can emerge and even be a good stand-in striker for the club this season – it will be looked on as a success.
It will help if Albert can scoreÂ goals â€“ and it was clear last night thatÂ fans are only too willing to help him along and encourage him at every opportunity. As Sam says â€“ it’s now up to Albert â€“ but the stage is now set â€“ and it could be the story of the season if Albert can finally show his worth at Newcastle. Last night was an excellentÂ first act in the potential drama unfolding – but only one act – and a lot more need to come along for the success story to continue.
Go for it Albert – great start last night.