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Alan Shearer criticises Allan Saint-Maximin for switching off vs Manchester City

Allan Saint-Maximin showed his defensive naivety against Manchester City on Sunday.

After a controversial week off the pitch, the Frenchman started at the Etihad on the left of midfield. This came after he played up front against Liverpool.

But Eddie Howe recalled Chris Wood to the starting lineup, pushing Saint-Maximin out wide. This was a bold call by Howe, given the opposition.

Man City constantly create overloads out wide, putting pressure on the defensive team to match them in those areas.

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With all due respect to Saint-Maximin, he’s shocking defensively. And Manchester City exposed that yesterday.

Saint-Maximin ‘goes to sleep’ vs Manchester City

Pep Guardiola’s side constantly had space to exploit down the Newcastle left, with Joao Cancelo nearly giving his side the lead. Saint-Maximin and Matt Targett left him completely free.

That was the warning, and the Magpies didn’t take it. Not long after, Cancelo got a run on Maxi again and his header set up Raheem Sterling for the opener.

Saint-Maximin completely switched off, and has been criticised by Toon legend Alan Shearer.

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“Newcastle played into his [Cancelo’s] hands quite a bit actually,” Shearer said on Match of the Day 2.

“When you’ve got players with great ability you can’t afford to make any errors. You can’t afford to let them go. 

“When Saint-Maximin is playing on the left hand side and not given a free role, you cannot allow that.  He has a look at him, he knows he’s there, they had a warning and he does nothing about it and doesn’t bother to get back in. 
You have to do that, you have to get in. That should have been in the back of the net – that was a warning.

“A few minutes later, exactly the same thing again and he goes to sleep. He lets him get inside him and he can’t. I don’t know what he’s pointing at, but it’s his man.”

Howe made a mistake

For all his mercurial talent in attack, Saint-Maximin cannot be relied upon defensively. That’s why it came as a real surprise to see him start on the wing at the Etihad.

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Given how much City’s game centres around getting space in the wide areas, Howe took a real risk starting ASM on the left. It gave Targett limited protection – which is something he can normally cope with. But not against Manchester City.

The likes of Miguel Almiron and Jacob Murphy are much better suited to being defensive wingers compared to Saint-Maximin. They don’t have the match-winning ability though, which is why Howe probably went with the 24-year-old.

It’s a decision that completely backfired. However, it’s not the end of the world – it’s Manchester City after all.

But Saint-Maximin either needs to start offering more defensively against the big boys, or risk not playing in his preferred position.

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