12 months ago Ayoze Perez was largely unheard of, now he is a vital part of most things that Newcastle do well.
His rise to prominence has been a rapid one after his very impressive debut season. Despite this at the start of this season very few Newcastle fans had him as a choice in their line-ups. Unfortunately for “Ayo” Steve McClaren had the same view.
Perez was unused for the first two games of the season before being played out of position in starts against Manchester United and Watford. Other than that he was only given substitute appearances against Arsenal and West Ham in difficult circumstances.
Finally against Chelsea last Saturday he was played in what would be considered his preferred position of second striker/ “number ten” and what a difference it made.
Ignoring his goal and assist for one moment his general performance was terrific. As ever with Perez his work rate was terrific and combined with the obvious class that he possesses means he has the potential to be an exceptional footballer.
He may not be blessed with great pace but he makes up for that with skill and intelligence. The way in which he turned a hopeful, floated ball from Vurnon Anita into a goal before Kurt Zouma had even noticed him only adds to the confusion as to why he has not been given a real chance until Saturday.
To control the ball on the outside of his foot the way he did and finish so well is something we should all be expecting to see on a regular basis if our attacking players can provide the correct service.
No Chelsea player could get to grips with him. The same however could not be said about our Serbian striker who tossed Perez round like a ragdoll after his opener, before almost pulling Ayoze’s hair off after he assisted Wijnaldum.
The little and large combination that we witnessed against Chelsea should be given time to blossom. The pair have very different styles that should compliment each other very well and at the moment it seems United’s most likely route out of trouble. You know as long as Mitro doesn’t put Perez in hospital.
It may well not work against a very good Manchester City side on Saturday but it is something that McClaren should persist with. The role Perez played on Saturday is probably the most important one given our system and he has set himself up to get an extended chance to prove himself in the starring role that he deserves.