Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle United have surged up the table in recent weeks going from relegation candidates to mid-table safety, and as much as their fortunes have changed the Spanish manager has changed their formation to mixed results.
Some weeks the former Liverpool and Chelsea man has insisted on deploying a single striker system with his side often lobbing long balls to 6ft 1’ target man Salomon Rondon in the hope the on loan West Brom forward can deliver the goods.
While Rondon has by no means been bad he has often remained isolated with no real option but to running down blind alleys alone while waiting for one of his team mates to surge forward to aid him.
Meanwhile Ayoze Perez - who three years ago was linked with a switch to Old Trafford - has often been deployed as an attacking midfielder or shunted out on the wing.
But despite their rise up the table Rafa still seems unsure on whether to stick with Rondon alone up front or deploy a two striker system to aid their goal scoring woes.
In their last outing against Everton - where Newcastle won the game 3-2 after being two goals down - the Magpies used a 3-4-3 formation with Ayoze Perez and Saloman Rondon essentially playing as a front two.
The performance of the duo was simply brilliant with Miguel Almiron becoming the de facto playmaker in chief with the Spaniard and Venezuelan battling up front. Perez showed his goal scoring brilliance that put the Spaniard on Manchester United’s radar scoring two, meanwhile Rondon managed to bag himself a goal taking his tally for the season to eight.
Yet performances like the latest outing at St.James’s Park are few and far between with Rondon likely to return to his existence as a lonely target man come the Magpies’ next match.
Newcastle may have broken away from their relegation dogfight but the six time FA Cup winners haven’t broken away from the route one style of football; a style that Rafa seems to always come back to no matter the result previous or the opposition.
The signing of £21 million man Almiron was certainly a step in the right direction in breaking away from that style, yet going forward pairing Rondon and Perez together may aid Newcastle move even further from the relegation zone and towards a brighter future for fans of the North East club.