When Newcastle United wanted Conor Gallagher during the summer, it sounded like he would be an excellent addition to Eddie Howe’s squad.
With Jonjo Shelvey out injured, it looked like the Magpies needed one more option in midfield. Even up until the deadline, there was hope that he could move to St James’ Park.
Newcastle wanted four players from Chelsea, and Gallagher was one of them. Given his performances the season prior for Crystal Palace, it seemed like bring him to Tyneside would be a brilliant piece of business.
But a move was not forthcoming. Instead, Howe had to settle with what he had. But Howe has done more than just settle. He has raised his players, and got them competing at an obscenely high level.
We saw that on Saturday night against Chelsea, as Newcastle won 1-0 at St James’ Park. Joe Willock was the hero, a player who perhaps would have suffered if Gallagher had joined the club.
And the 22-year-old did nothing to suggest Newcastle missed out on signing him.
Gallagher was very poor against Newcastle
Newcastle against Chelsea is normally a game that the Londoners come out on top in. But that wasn’t the case on Saturday. In fact, we were better than them in every department.
Howe’s side dominated the midfield battle, with Toon players all winning their individual battles.
Plenty of Chelsea players struggled at St James’ Park, one of which was Gallagher. The youngster was anonymous at St James’ Park, with a forgettable performance that did nothing to suggest he would be a hit in black and white.
He was completely overshadowed by the likes of Willock and Sean Longstaff, who may have struggled for minutes had Gallagher joined in the summer.
Newcastle have thrived without him, and on Saturday he failed to show what he would have brought to the party.
There was one moment of brilliance. Gallagher very nearly gave Chelsea the lead, but was denied by an excellent Nick Pope save. But that was as good as it got for Gallagher, who is now off to Qatar with England.
Based on Saturday night’s showing, it’s crazy to think that he is part of England’s World Cup squad, while Willock was never even in contention.