Twice David Moyes’ side led, only for the Irons to let the advantage slip through their fingers. The second equaliser was a sucker punch immediately after the Irons had put themselves 2-1 ahead, with Pablo Fornals making a criminal error to play Dwight Gayle onside.
Former England international goalkeeper, Paul Robison, had some strong criticism for the Spaniard who arrived from Villarreal in the summer, suggesting his performances could be putting the Hammers at risk of relegation.
What did he say?
Speaking to Football Insider, Robinson stated: “Fornals has undoubted talent, but you do not need that from a player when you are at the bottom of the league, in a predicament.”
The Ex-England stopper added: “When a player does not track back, like that, it can cost you – as it proved.
“You cannot have that with players, especially when you are fighting against relegation. You cannot afford to have any passengers.”
There can be no doubt that Fornals was caught sleeping in the aftermath of West Ham regaining the lead against the Magpies, ultimately leading to the instant reply. However, to suggest that the Spaniard has been a passenger this season appears overly critical given no Hammer has provided a higher number of assists than the 24-year-old’s five.
It is in attacking scenarios where the playmaker can be decisive, and that is what he has proved throughout the season. However, it is worth noting he has struggled since returning to action, with an average match rating of 6.1, without having not provided a goal nor assist.
While Robinson is correct that Fornals is not as willing defensively as players such as fellow midfielder Jarrod Bowen, who completes 1.9 tackles per 90 minutes, the Spaniard does dispossess opponents twice as much as Manuel Lanzini, who’s average tackles are just 0.6 per match.
It seems somewhat unfair to label Fornals as a passenger given what he has contributed during his 31 appearances. Still, he does need to remain more alert defensively to avoid repeating Sunday’s mistake.