Newcastle United fans are never slow to confirm their trust in manager Rafael Benitez but even the Spaniard’s most hard-nosed followers must have queried why the club would not offer Vurnon Anita a new contract in the summer.
The Dutchman is far from the most technically gifted footballer and he wouldn’t produce too many moments of match winning quality in the Premier League. Yet, he provides one thing every manager ends up relying upon – versatility.
Anita was a regular at both right-back and defensive midfield during his time on Tyneside and was one of Newcastle’s most trusted and reliable performers as Benitez led them back to the promised land of the Premier League last season.
This did not convince the club to hand the former Ajax youngster an extended contract, however. Though his early days at Leeds United offer a reminder to The Magpies of how useful Anita can be.
Since arriving at Elland Road on a free, the 28-year-old has been a regular at left-back – the position he played in during his formative years in Ajax. Leeds lost Charlie Taylor to Burnley in the summer and, with Manchester United loanee Cameron Borthwick-Jackson out of favour, Anita’s adaptability has come in very handy.
And it just so happens that Newcastle have endured something of a crisis at left-back since returning to the top flight. Paul Dummett limped off less than ten minutes into the new season and has not been seen since.
Consequently, Ciaran Clark, Jesus Gamez, Javi Manquillo and the currently crocked Chancel Mbemba have all been forced to fill in out of position with mixed results.
The decision not to keep the ultimate squad player around, then, may have already backfired.