It was only the second time we have seen Islam Slimani in action in a Newcastle shirt, but the big man has speed and skill and helped set up our second goal after he had been on the pitch for only five minutes.
Islam is a typical player who can do well under the guidance of Rafa Benitez – he is keen to learn, works hard, is powerful in the air and on the ground – and wants to improve.
So while it’s uncertain whether Rafa thinks he is worth £20M in the summer we should see more of him in the final five games of the season.
But we expect Islam to impress the more playing time he gets – he’s definitely very keen to stay on Tyneside.
Islam Slimani – in action yesterday
And he does seem to add something up front and that’s another option for the team.
Rafa talked about Slimani and our other two loan signings after the game yesterday against the Gunners and also the unheralded Paul Dummett.
Once Paul came back from his hamstring injury Newcastle’s form, and defensive solidity returned.
Here’s what Rafa said:
“I think he has the desire. He’s a worker. He wants to impress.
“With him, and after Joselu who was also doing a good job as a second striker, and after with Jacob Murphy.”
“So we had fresh legs and also players that had the ambition and desire to make an impact in the end.”
“That helps the team to go out when you’re under pressure or to play in the way that we were playing in the end.”
“We were lucky enough to sign them, and also the comeback of Paul Dummett from injury.”
“We were looking for a left-footed left full-back. Manquillo was doing a good job.”
“But right-footed always give you less time and pace when you want to move the ball.”
“I think all these new players, they give us something different and also increase the competition in the squad.”
“It has been really positive.”
It’s the happiest we’ve seen Rafa for some time after the game as he was smiling and congratulated his players and waved to the crowd.
He’s shown this season just how good he is, and not many managers could have this Newcastle team in 10th place and playing well.
Newcastle United will have gained many more fans around the world with their performance yesterday on TV – it was full of passion, skill, and guts.
What else do you want?
Maybe it’ s a good time for Amanda Staveley to put in a new and improved offer for Newcastle?