‘Are we missing something?’ we asked when Chelsea wanted Anthony Gordon for £60m. We don’t think so, but there’s no doubt he’s found it now. What a performance.
Football365 weren’t averse to a bit of gentle Anthony Gordon mocking not all that long ago. Not of the man himself per se, more of Chelsea, and then Newcastle, for being willing to pay quite so much for his services. And we weren’t alone. “It’s absolutely crazy,” the man himself said when asked about the £60m Chelsea were apparently willing to pay in January.
But maybe £60m was indeed Gordon’s true value, because it currently looks like £40m was a bit of a bargain for Newcastle. Who would have thought the vast scouting resources of two Premier League mega-clubs can spot talent better than we can? Though we remain to be convinced that’s the case at Chelsea.
We thought we were missing something, and actually, we were, because so too was Gordon. He’s quick – we got that. He makes good runs in behind and is dangerous when fronting up defenders – we got that too. But both the decision-making and final product were really poor, or so it seemed.
Perhaps it was the lack of opportunity to effect games at Everton that was the problem. They were never a free-flowing attacking side and Gordon often cut a pretty lonely figure, foraging for scraps on the wing with little support from his teammates. Missed chances would be highlighted because they were few and far between, while assists were a rarity simply because he had no-one to pass to.
We would likely still be questioning his worth had he made the move to Chelsea, where a similarly speedy left winger struggles as much as anyone in a slow, possession-based style of football where they’re frequently confronted by teams willing to sit in, but Gordon is a perfect fit for this Newcastle side.
They don’t have loads of the ball, which means there’s always opportunity for Gordon to charge at teams on the break. Not always quite so much opportunity as at Bramall Lane on Sunday mind you – the space Sheffield United allowed him was quite extraordinary.
Perhaps his early arrival from the bench confused the Blades, though we’re struggling to see how their plan for Gordon was vastly different to the blueprint for Harvey Barnes, whose injury worked out rather well for Newcastle.
Maybe with a point to prove having been dropped, or at least rotated, Gordon immediately ran at poor Jayden Bogle and continued long after the wing-back was given the sweet release of a spot on the bench at half-time. Perhaps the perfect illustration of Gordon’s influence is that Sheffield United were in the ascendency at the start of this 8-0 defeat, before the winger came on.
He put Anel Ahmedhodzic on his arse with a very sharp turn on the byline to set up Sean Longstaff for Newcastle’s opener and twice provided Callum Wilson with very good chances with passes that he made look simple but could so easily be overhit. Crucially, he saw those passes early.
A player who was considered to be a head-down dribbler at Everton – closer to an athlete than a footballer on occasion – is now a real creator at Newcastle. He’s assessing his options and invariably choosing the right one. Whether that was a burst of pure speed past Ahmedhodzic, who replaced Bogle as the man with the impossible task of attempting to contain Gordon in the second half, playing the ball into Wilson’s feet, slipping it in behind, or cutting in an unleashing a perfect curling shot into the corner to score his second goal of the season. It was one of the best individual displays of any player in the Premier League this season.
Eddie Howe and his coaching staff deserve great credit for Gordon’s improvement, because although we at Football365 have egg on our face, what we’re seeing now is a vastly different footballer to the one we enjoyed ribbing in the past.