Gini Wijnaldum was excellent for us in the first part of last season through the end of last year, but then we went off and failed to score any goals for us until the final day of the season against Tottenham, when we had already been relegated.
What was also true about Gini is that he was a much better player at St. James’ Park than he was away from home, when he often disappeared in games.
There was mounting criticism of Wijnaldum and some other of our better players as the season came to an end after we had beaten Tottenham 2-1 at White Hart Lane but then went 10 games on the road losing every one of them.
Then we managed a 2-2 draw at Liverpool on 22 April when we came back from 2-0 down at half time.
Gini Wijnaldum after scoring penalty against Tottenham
That was over four months without a win away from home.
In those games, which basically had us relegated, we didn’t see much fight from Gini or some of our other better players – like Moussa Sissoko – and Rafa Benitez dropped the Dutch International after the Southampton debacle.
So his comments in the Chronicle today seem just a little strange – since he says he’s upset and devastated by relegation.
Gini was asked if he would be staying at Newcastle:
“It’s something I can’t think about.” “All I can say is I’m devastated that we are out of the Premier League.”
“It’s hurt me a lot.” “First that feeling must go away and then I will see how I feel.” “It was devastating.”
“Unfortunately my 11 goals did not help the club stay in the Premier League so I am upset about it.”
“I don’t know how long it will take to get over.” “I will take my time to get over it.” “Time will tell.”
“It is always a good experience to work with a new manager because every manager is different.”
“I will see how it is. “I can’t think for other players, only for myself “I don’t think about the future yet.
“I am sad we are relegated and that’s the only thing on my mind right now.”
If Gini had turned up for those games on the road and maybe scored some goals away from home, then maybe we wouldn’t have been relegated and he wouldn’t be so devastated?
That criticism is not just directed at Gini, but other Newcastle players too, who showed no fight and that is now worrying because we are in the much tougher Championship.
But we are down now – it’s water under the Tyne Bridge – and the lads must prepare for a long season ahead and get to grips with playing away from home at some much smaller stadiums they will not be used to.
It will take guts and character to get promoted straight back up, and that’s something that was missing from too many of our players last season.
But hey, if we can do that we will be a much better team and likely be a Premier League club again next year at this time – and that’s with or without Gini Wijnaldum.
That’s our only goal now – to get promoted at the very first attempt – and continue to become a much better team and a much better club under Rafa Benitez.
That’s the positive side of all of this.
Howay The Lads!!