Newcastle United gave their least inspiring display yet in a drab 0-0 with Brighton on Saturday, but it could have been so much worse were it not for new Tyneside hero Fabian Schar.
The Swiss defender is now almost unanimously recognised as the Toon’s most talented player, with strong defensive skills combined with glorious vision and an eye for goal.
In recent weeks it’s his eye for goal that’s captured attention.
The centre-back rescued a point against Watford in the league by scoring the equaliser in a 1-1 draw and then bagged another goal in the international break for Switzerland, finishing off a great team move against Republic of Ireland in another 1-1 draw.
It’s great to once again have a crafty centre-back like Philippe Albert on Tyneside, one who isn’t afraid to dribble forward and make things happen.
But these surprising exploits up top often mean his defensive efforts go under the radar.
Schar has already made more interceptions than any other defender in the league this season, and showed against Brighton just how important he is to Newcastle’s back line.
The Toon were embarrasingly up against it for the most of the match against Brighton, with the visitors having an insane 71% total possession.
But Schar remained a rock at the back throughout, his three key tackles more than that of any other centre-back on the pitch.
The defender also made four key clearances, and was arguably the man of the match for Newcastle on the day.
One of these clearances quite literally saved the Toon, as it stopped a certain goal from Brighton youngster Aaron Connolly in the late stages.
The 19 year old had burst through on goal and performed a deft chip over the head of Martin Dubravka, but just as it dropped into the net, Schar was there.
The Swiss international performed a sensational overhead kick to clear the ball, and the St James’ crowd breathed a collective sigh of relief.
NUFC fans have reacted in amazement to that moment and to his performance as a whole tonight, and are beginning to wonder…
What hope do they have of keeping him?
NUFC fans react to Schar vs. Brighton
— ᏝewᎥs 🌪 (@nufclewis_) September 21, 2019
We will be lucky to keep Schar in January, Players look lost.
ASM brought a spark coming on but still think he’s a few games away from starting.
Andy grafted as we thought but other than ASM there was nothing in midfield.
43k att at the start, how many at the end? #NUFC
— Chris Brennan (@Chris_brennan91) September 21, 2019
Three things I've learned from #NUFC v #BHAFC:
1) I don't want to see Jonjo Shelvey in a Newcastle shirt again
2) Joelinton clearly loves playing with ASM
3) Newcastle's most important player is Schar – not ifs, no buts
— Russell Edge (@RussellEdgeNCL) September 21, 2019
Schar’s quality defending this game ❤️love this guy
— Ameè (@AmeelouNufc) September 21, 2019
Surely people need to take notice of Schar now? That was unbelievable. #NUFC
— Steve Darrah 💀⚫️⚪️ (@ETRSteve) September 21, 2019
Fabian Schar ; only Toon deserving a handshake @NUFC
— Mali (@samalitim) September 21, 2019
Schar is our best goalkeeper, defender, midfielder and striker. I love the bloke #NUFC
— Liam Ritchie (@Liam_Ritchie) September 21, 2019
I've come to the conclusion that Fabian Schar is the only real footballer we have at the club
— Don (@NUFCDon) September 21, 2019