Interim manager Graeme Jones has made an intriguing comment in regards to Federico Fernandez, as per The Chronicle.
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Despite Newcastle having the second-worst defence in the Premier League, there has been no room for the former Argentine international. While Fernandez started 27 games last season – including five as captain in Jamaal Lascelles’ absence – the 32-year-old has only been afforded five starts this time out and has not been included in either of Jones’ two squads.
What did Jones say about Fernandez?
Speaking after the miserable loss to Chelsea on Saturday, Jones said: “I really like Fede as a defender, but I didn’t see any value in putting him on the bench.
“If you’re winning, you’re not going to put him on, and if you’re losing, you’re not going to put him on.
“Fede needs to start – or not.
“So it’s the same reason as I left him out of the 20 at Palace.
“It’s the same reason, as the boys did well.”
Is he right?
While there is a certain logic to what he says in terms of Fernandez not being the kind of player you bring on when chasing a game and also the fact that managers rarely change their central defensive duo when winning, it seems strange to not involve him at all.
Already this season, the former Swansea man has averaged more clearances per game (4.8, via WhoScored) than the likes of Emil Krafth and Ciaran Clark, as well as more successful aerial duels over the same period (2) than Krafth, who has started both games under Jones.
Clearly, they are the only metrics and perhaps he’s less mobile than the other options but Fernandez is a hugely experienced Premier League player and also someone who can provide a goal threat from set-pieces, scoring twice during the 2019-20 campaign in a season in which Newcastle lacked goals.
To completely overlook him in light of a defence Jamie Carragher has labeled as of a “Championship” standard seems strange.
Surely starting him can’t be any worse than what we’ve seen so far.