Despite Newcastle United coming up short yesterday vs. Crystal Palace, the overall performance was a positive one. The Magpies carried large advantages in shots and possession, and they played an expansive brand of soccer. A lot of players were in good form yesterday, but there was one player that continued to disappoint in his first season with the club.
Jeff Hendrick, outside of a chance in the first half, was largely invisible. He isn’t able to impact the match consistently, without elite passing, work rate, or defensive ability. Thankfully, Steve Bruce decided to take him off for Allan Saint-Maximin in the second half.
Unlike other positions where Bruce doesn’t have any depth, central midfield boasts options to choose from. Next to Jonjo Shelvey, the Newcastle boss could select either of the Longstaff brothers, Isaac Hayden (when he’s not needed in central defense), and now, Arsenal loanee Joe Willock. All of those options would be better at this point than Hendrick.
It was unfair to ridicule his quality just because he was a free transfer but after more than half the season, it appears there’s a reason that Burnley didn’t rush to extend the midfielder with his deal expiring last year.
While fans aren’t always right, there’s immediate frustration across social media when his name appears in the starting lineup. You would have to search far and wide to find a supporter that defends Hendrick.
Newcastle United have been better the last few matches and if the club is going to make a push here down the stretch, it needs to be with Hendrick planted squarely on the bench.