The number nine shirt at Newcastle United is a thing of legend, it practically demands goals, and our current number nine, Callum Wilson isn’t hitting the net lately.
The England international is under no illusions that he needs to do more, using his Footballer’s Football Podcast to talk about his recent form saying: “Each week we keep saying ‘we had chances, we had chances’ I’m obviously down as partly to blame for that as I’m a striker and I take full responsibility. I never shy away from owning up and taking accountability that I need to fix up in front of goal”
Wilson: “My dip in form has coincided with a dip in form from the team”
Wilson goes on to use his missed opportunity against Manchester City as an example: “I feel I had an opportunity. As a striker in that moment you make decision. I probably should have gone with my laces and tried to keep it down but I tried to side-foot it and keep it down.
“When you’re in that moment, in that situation, you’re not playing in the Premier League for no reason, you’ve not had the career you’ve had for no reason, you do that and put the ball away nine times out of ten. It just so happens that one time out of ten keeps happening.
“You’re always going to go through sticky spells as a player, as a team. My dip in form has coincided with a dip in form from the team as well.”
The £92,000-a-week man’s dip in form seems to also have coincided with his return to the squad following his spell away with England in Qatar. Almost as if he gave everything to ensure his spot on the plane with Gareth Southgate’s men, and still hasn’t had a chance to recover fully.
As Wilson points out, he isn’t the only one whose form has dropped, a case could be made for every player since the restart. Miguel Almiron looked world-class leading up to the World Cup, but since the restart, he hasn’t looked anywhere near the level he was at in October.
It’s unfair to pin it all on Wilson
Of course it’s unrealistic to expect even the best players to play at their best every week, it’s inhuman. Form dips, it’s one of the most reliable aspects of football, but it’s how players bounce back that counts along with how long that takes.
It seems Newcastle’s rocky patch has gone on for an eternity, we’re the lowest scoring team in the league in 2023 as we go into March. Granted, our last three fixtures haven’t exactly been kind – a cup final sandwiched between two bogey teams.
This month sees an international break which couldn’t have come at a better time. It will give Eddie Howe a chance to address some issues and hopefully give some players the rest they need, depending on who gets called up to represent their country, and with Wilson unlikely to be called up by Southgate, it could be perfect for Wilson in particular.
Howe has a big call to make as Newcastle come up against Wolves on Sunday: does he stick with misfiring Wilson in the hope that he can break his duck, after all, he can’t score if he’s not playing. Or does he hand the baton to record signing, Alexander Isak?
For me, the key isn’t so much which striker starts, it’s who is chosen to supply them. It might be time to rest Almiron and give new signing Anthony Gordon a try down that right flank, or put him on the left and send Allan Saint-Maximin down the right. We have options and it’s maybe time Howe uses them.