Liverpool were the sixth Premier League match Bruno Gomarez has missed for Newcastle this season and it was no surprise that there was no win at St James’ Park on Saturday night.
It’s now six games into the season and no league won without Guimaraes, a worrying and telling stat for Eddie Howe that tells us where Newcastle are at the moment as a squad and even a club.
That Newcastle are punching above their weight is not true. Think Jack Paul winning his big fight with Fury on Saturday, but knocking out Tyson instead of Tommy. That is a measure of how good Howe has been and is doing at St James’ Park.
This squad should not be in the top four in the Premier League, but their place is pure testament to the work of Howe.
That said, there’s only so much he can do sometimes. Take out any team’s best player around the world and it will have an impact. Guimaraes is Newcastle’s best player by some distance.
Guimaraes is world class. Those who doubt that need only look at how Newcastle have performed without him over the past few weeks.
He has just served a three-game ban, with Newcastle failing to win any of the matches he missed. In fact, looking further back over the course of the season, Newcastle are winless in every Premier League game they’ve played without their South American talisman.
With him on the team, they average more than two points per game, but less than one point without him. They scored almost twice as many goals a game with Guimaraes, more than twice as many without him, and twice as many without him.
Basically he is the shadow of the team when he is not playing. But that’s where Newcastle are at the moment.
They are not rushing their plan. Guimaraes’ absence and Newcastle’s performance since then has been disappointing, but it’s very difficult to replace only your best player. The fact that Howe had to give youngster Elliott Anderson a full debut on Saturday shows where he is in terms of rebuilding his squad.
Bruno knows firsthand what it means to work for Howe. He knows how things will work out. No one has more faith in the Newcastle boss than him. The samba superstar emphasized the importance of his manager earlier in the season and it proved right after the Liverpool defeat.
“He has turned water into wine here, leading a team that many have virtually abandoned in the middle of the table,” he revealed.
“He’s bringing a winning mentality to the club. Eddie has always given me confidence. He’ll come up to me and ask, ‘Where do you like to play? Here? There? Right. What’s your favorite role on the pitch?’ I want you to help me adjust to my playing style but you also have your own quirks – where do you think you can help me the most?”
A win without Guimaraes would be a worry, but for Newcastle and Howe it’s just one thing they have to overcome. And they will.