Sandro Tonali is the problem and the solution

Sandro Tonali with a dream start, scoring six minutes into his debut as he helped and out a 5-1 hammering to Aston Villa.

Then the midfielder reminded of the reality at the very top of the Premier League, when Eddie Howe went for a more cautious approach at Man City. Whilst creating very little themselves, Newcastle did very well at the Etihad defensively (Man City only four efforts on target) and on another day may have stolen a point, but a superb Alvarez strike won it. The fact that up to the present day Man City have still won every single home match in 2023, in all competitions, sums up for Sandro Tonali the gulf that Newcastle are still trying to close to the very top.

Sandro Tonali then finding out how really tough and cruel the Premier League can be, especially with Newcastle having to play their four opening matches against clubs who all also finished top seven last season.

Having been arguably Newcastle’s three best players, certainly in an attacking sense, Tonali then found himself subbed on 72 minutes along with Gordon and Isak. As Eddie Howe looked to use his strong bench / squad to see out the 1-0 win against 10 men Liverpool. We all know what happened next, many pundits and Newcastle fans later questioning the subs Eddie Howe made, however, in reality this is what all the top teams do regularly as they bring on fresh legs to see games out, knowing that the replacements are a very similar quality.

Newcastle should have won and deserved to, however, Liverpool got two late chances as luck massively went their way and produced two top notch finishes from their only two serious efforts all game. Sandro Tonali then seeing just what level of hysteria can surround Newcastle United, as the media really went to town on this freak defeat.

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Nothing really freak though about the next result, Sandro Tonali and his teammates not really turning up and whilst it was never a 3-0 / 3-1 game, Ferguson took his chances well as things fell for Brighton, who deserved the win and Newcastle deserved nothing.

A dizzying introduction to life at Newcastle United and in the Premier League, so surely an international break would give some respite for the star summer NUFC signing…

In a key 2024 Euros Group qualifier, Sandro Tonali plays well and unlucky not to score as his left foot shot comes back off the post. Despite dominating this away match and leading deep into the game, North Macedonia pull out a brilliant free-kick equaliser. To make matters worse, we then hear Sandro Tonali has been forced to withdraw from the Italy squad with an injury, is having scans on it, with a muscle injury / muscle fatigue put forward as the probable problem. The only uplift for Sandro Tonali, is that without him his international temamates get an essential win against Ukraine, to put them in a strong position to qualify with England for the Euros in Germany next summer.

Thankfully the injury appears to be nothing more than a scare in the end, no long-term issue, but Sandro Tonali still for the first time sits out a game at St James’ Park. An unused sub watching on as Newcastle earn a gritty deserved win over a very decent Brentford.

Which brings us to this week and that massive match at the San Siro.Sandro Tonali Clapping Fans

It was of course even more massive for Sandro Tonali, you just couldn’t have made it up. Not only drawn together in the same group BUT away at AC Milan in the opening Champions League group game. You would almost think somebody at UEFA fixed these things… after we all fall asleep during the endless wait and then what feels like an endless draw as the groups are finally decided.

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As the outfield player who played not only the most minutes for AC Milan in the Champions League last season, but indeed of all outfield players in the competition, safe to say that Tuesday night saw Sandro Tonali play far below the standards of any of his 12 CL starts last season.

For me Tonali was the biggest problem on Tuesday night, as indeed I think he was at Brighton in his last Premier League appearance.

However, Sandro Tonali is also the solution for Newcastle United.

Some people, both media and Newcastle fans, already wanting to make a judgement on Sandro Tonali. As to how successful a signing he has been.

Most new signings wouldn’t have played as many Premier League minutes so early as Sandro Tonali has, however, I think that with the tough schedule Eddie Howe wanted to throw him in the deep end and get him invaluable swift experience against some of the best teams in the Premier League. Five club matches this season against teams who finished top seven last season in the Premier League and then that return to AC Milan, Tonali will be wondering when does this ease off a bit…

Well as they say, there are no easy games in the Premier League, BUT there are EASIER games, at least on paper. Nobody is taking anything for granted but fair to say that having started with five PL matches against clubs who finished top nine last season, having the next five against those teams who finished bottom half, or who got promoted, means Newcastle United have the opportunities to put plenty of points on the board.

I think Sandro Tonali can be the key player.

For sure the occasion just proved far too much for Sandro Tonali on Tuesday night, the media circus that surrounded him and then up against tough opposition desperate to get some respect from the fans after their 5-1 Inter mauling, always a tough call for NUFC and especially Tonali.

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He never stopped trying but just didn’t have any real positive influence on the match in the opposition half.

However, as I say, after this tough and brief head first apprenticeship with Eddie Howe and Newcastle United, I think we will now see Sandro Tonali come to the fore once again, just as he impressed against Villa and Liverpool.

He has been in the country less than three months, played a handful of matches, this is not the time to judge Sandro Tonali, just to support him.

He is clearly a class act as a player and a person, I think he will end up having an excellent first season on Tyneside and then only get better and better, especially once properly settled and having learnt the language, something which he is throwing everything at, just as Bruno did as soon as he arrived.

As for the Wetherspoons incident.

I think he handled this so well.

It said so much about about the media and the over the top snobbery in their heads, they obviously wanted him to say how appalled he had been, unlike Milan where everywhere serves Caviar and Unicorn and is so classy…

Instead, Sandro Tonali just said it had been a good night and he was pleasantly surprised he was to find that so many families go to pubs and food is served there, no doubt very different to the stereotype of all English pubs that is no doubt talked about in Italy.

An enjoyable and interesting experience for Newcastle’s key summer signing and one that he handled perfectly with the media afterwards, though he won’t be going back to Wetherspoons of course!