Opinion: Takeover storm is overshadowing striker’s upturn in form

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As a Newcastle fan, it is hard to ignore the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund backed bid to buy Mike Ashley out of his majority stake. Although only metaphorically at present, the move has taken over Tyneside, and while it would be lovely to see the back of the Sports Direct boss, the rumblings are overshadowing what is occurring on the pitch.

On the whole, Newcastle have been both unfortunate and abysmal in equal measure of late, putting in a squalid performance against Manchester City, shooting themselves in the foot to lose 2-1 to Watford, then dominating Tottenham only to see Jose Mourinho’s side win 3-1. But even throughout the storm, Dwight Gayle has been rediscovering some form in front of goal and showing up his fellow forwards with two games remaining.

The former Crystal Palace striker has netted as many goals as Allan Saint-Maximin this term, three, in 1049 fewer Premier League minutes. Meanwhile, Miguel Almiron has found the net just once more than the striker in 2173 minutes, the equivalent of over 24 matches, more action. Gayle made a particularly slow start to the season, first featuring on Boxing Day, but as Steve Bruce’s faith in Joelinton has waned, the Englishman has found himself being handed more and more opportunities.

What is all the more impressive is that Gayle’s first goal of the season did not come until June 24, in any usual circumstances most players would be lounging in the sun or representing their country by that point of the calendar. But it is in mid-summer when the 29-year-old has found his shooting boots to fire three goals in six matches and earn Newcastle four points.

Against Spurs the other night he was lively once again and was only denied the opportunity to add to his 24 Premier League goals by the post. Had his glancing header not rebounded back out, it would have levelled the scores at 1-1 and could have seen the Magpies end their run of three straight defeats.

Gayle is almost certainly not the long-term solution to Newcastle’s goalscoring impotence, but he is starting to find his feet under Bruce of late, and it is going largely unnoticed. Over the summer, new arrivals have to be brought to St James’ Park but don’t be surprised to see Gayle occupy a more significant role than he has done for the majority of this campaign.

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