Alexander Isak looked sensational on his Newcastle United debut against Liverpool, but after two largely disappointing performances at home, there are some early concerns about the £ 60m signing.
Among those polite questions about his form, there was a moment against Bournemouth that hinted at something that reassured experienced observers.
The former Real Sociedad star looked a bit lost playing as a center forward against both Crystal Palace and Bournemouth.
The Swedish international appeared too light to play as a target, struggled with his back to goal and doesn’t look like a six-yard poacher in the traditional sense of a prolific scorer. His connection with the game with his teammates remains a work in progress.
It wasn’t Isak’s fault that neither Newcastle winger against Bournemouth, Ryan Fraser and Miguel Almiron, made the most of their team’s dominance over possession and territory, but when it came to all that hype – and at cost huge – the age of 22 – Old’s performances in the past two weeks have been disappointing.
“He’s learning,” Howe said. “And not just how the team plays, but also how the teammates around him play.
“Again, there have been some flashes from him, but I don’t think we, as a team, have done well enough around him to get him into scoring positions. We didn’t feed him the ball soon enough. He was a bit isolated and we didn’t get him involved enough in the key areas he wants to be involved in. “
Deleting a striker after only three appearances would be ridiculous and while sources told Telegraph Sport that Isak was unable to transfer his performance on the training ground into competitive matches, he was still on the scoresheet against Bournemouth.
It was only a penalty, after Video Assistant Referee stepped in to show referee Craig Pawson that Jefferson Lerma had deflected Kieran Trippier’s cross away with his hand, but it revealed a lot about Isak’s character and technique. He gave good reason to feel encouraged that once he’s settled down and adapted, Isak can be the player Newcastle need.
Taking upon himself the duty of sanction
There was initially some surprise – and some nervousness – when it became clear that Isak was going to take the penalty kick. He had lost a one-on-one chance against Palace on his home debut with a weak and ill-judged finish and who knows what kind of damage would have been done if he missed a penalty in his next appearance.
Isak, however, was adamant that he wanted to accept it. He highlighted a young man with confidence in his abilities and willingness to get involved in important moments. When you think back to all of Newcastle’s great forwards, they all had this kind of confidence and thirst for goals. Whatever the concerns about his overall performance were, it alleviated them considerably. He is not a shrinking purple.
The technique for converting the penalty shot
Isak exuded confidence in his run, changing the angle of his approach after a small jump and a jump. His physical form was perfect as he circled the ball, opened his body and fired a perfect shot in the lower left corner. The ball flew with speed and precision for a few inches inside the upright. Even if Bournemouth goalkeeper Neto dived the right way, he wouldn’t get his hand on the ball. As with his goal against Liverpool, it was a great finish as a striker, illustrating the composure under pressure to execute the skill he has.
The reaction and the party
Isak was thrilled to score his second goal in four games, but there was also the realization that Newcastle would have to try and win the match. He stopped his run to the corner to get his attention back to recovering the ball from the net.
He then spent the next 20 seconds gesturing to the crowd to keep the noise alive and to help the team score a winner. For a new player to have this squad awareness and interact directly with a slightly discontented and flat home crowd speaks volumes about Isak’s personality. He is willing to put himself in the spotlight and take on a senior role at such a young age. She indicates a player who has the mentality to thrive in the long run.