The Almiron Conundrum

Back in January of this year, Newcastle United spent a then club record £20million on Miguel Almiron – a Paraguayan attacking midfielder from MLS. Following his arrival, he instantly won a place in the hearts of the fans with his infectious attitude, incredible work rate and spellbinding skills.

However, despite coming close in just about every single game, the man affectionately known as ‘Miggy’, still hasn’t registered a goal or assist. For a player of his ilk in a team like Newcastle United, it’s imperative to the club that he and the others around him fix this issue. So, what is it that’s going wrong?

The System

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce has adopted a similar system to that of his predecessor, Rafael Benitez. Usually in some variation of the 5-4-1 formation, there isn’t a whole lot of room for attacking players to flourish – particularly Miggy.

During his career, Almiron has played predominately as an attacking midfielder, shadowing the strikers and augmenting the attack. According to TransferMarkt, he has made 54 appearances in that position scoring 20 goals and assisting 18 goals in that CAM position. Despite this, he’s used mostly on the right wing at Newcastle, having played in that position all season. It’s worth noting that before this season, Almiron had only played on the right wing three times previous.

As far as I’m concerned, if you want to get the best out of your players, then you play them in the positions they know best. At the very least, play him on the left side, which is his second most favoured position with the Paraguayan having played 25 games in that position. It’s also worth pointing out that’s where he played under Rafa Benitez.

Confidence Issues

Confidence is a big issue for football players the world over. Some players have far too much of it, some have the perfect balance and some, Miggy included, don’t have any at all. Watching him play week in, week out, you can see that the quality is there but that final touch, be it a pass, cross or shot, just isn’t quite hitting the mark right now.

Having watched him in MLS I’m fully aware of the quality this man brings to the table. He has a wand of a left foot capable of scoring from just about anywhere in any game. Whether you’re playing in the MLS, Premier League or Champions League, if you can score goals, you can score goals so it’s clearly not a quality issue.

As Miggy has found out, it’s very easy to get on the wrong side of Newcastle United’s infamous fan base. The pressure to perform, especially in the current fragile situation, is immense. The fans expect no less than 100% from every player, and although they get that from Miggy, there are sections of the club’s support who are starting to get frustrated with the Paraguayan.

It got to the extent that a few weeks back, Almiron actually limited the comments on his Instagram posts to only people he follows in response to the abuse he’d been receiving from certain fans. These fans need to wake up and see that abusing him won’t help a thing, it’s only going to make the situation far worse.

Take inspiration from the little lad who went viral following Miggy’s miss at the weekend. The midfielder ran through on goal, tried to slot home but saw his effort tipped wide of the post by the keeper. As he hung over the hoardings looking despondent, the cameras caught the moment a young ball boy clapped Almiron before issuing a hearty thumbs up. A truly sweet moment – something that is all too irregular in the game these days.

This weekend, Newcastle United visit West Ham United, a tough game for any side. Both sides only have the one win in their last five games but the Hammers come into this one on the back of three points in their last match. The home side will no doubt be the favourites but if Miggy can find his feet in front of goal, you just never know.

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