Newcastle salvaged a 2-2 draw with the last kick of the game at Bournemouth on Saturday, but it could have been so different, without an odd penalty decision, and a defensive lapse that showed just how much the Magpies rely on their captain, Jamaal Lascelles.
Federico Fernandez’s error that led to the goal looked like it had gifted the home side a win, and was the type of mistake Lascelles was prone to making in the early days of his Newcastle career.
But error-strewn games like that are a thing of the past for Lascelles, and his consistent, reliable performances are the linchpin of the Magpies’ defence, and as much was highlighted at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday, without the skipper being anywhere near the pitch.
Fernandez looked a shadow of the player that looked like an inspired, bargain signing by Rafa Benitez in the summer, and will be rueing a missed opportunity to show the manager and fans that he deserves a starting spot on a regular occasion.
His passing was poor, and it was a similar case for his positional play. However, what most fans will remember from him, was when he sloppily gave the ball away to Dominic Solanke on the edge of his own box, which saw the former Liverpool player lay it off for Josh King to fire home.
Fernandez was saved by Matt Ritchie’s wonder strike in injury time, but the black and whites will not be so fortunate in other games.
These types of defensive errors from open play are what Rafa prides his teams on not making, and having talked the player up before the game, he will be bitterly disappointed at the former Swansea man’s contribution.
Newcastle now have the international break, plus a couple of extra days — with them not playing next until their trip to Arsenal on Monday Night Football — to get their skipper fit again, and it will be a huge relief to Rafa if he is.
What are your thoughts Newcastle fans? If Lascelles is not fit, would you keep faith with Fernandez? Let us know below…
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