MALCOLM MACDONALD has been scratching his head ever since Newcastle let go of Adam Armstrong.
And the Toon legend’s mind boggles when he thinks that within a year they spent £50million on flop forwards Yoshinori Muto and Joelinton.
Former St James’ Park boss Rafa Benitez sold Armstrong, then 21, to Blackburn for £1.75m in 2018 — and today the Geordie striker will be hell-bent on showing his boyhood club just how big a mistake that was.
Armstrong, 24, left Rovers for Southampton this summer in a £15m move and scored on his debut away to Everton.
Not only deadly in front of goal, he has clocked the fastest speed so far in the Prem.
Supermac’s 121 goals in the 1970s saw him become a Tyneside hero and one of the greatest to wear the famous black-and-white No 9 shirt.
And he told SunSport: “It’s crazy they let Adam go and a year later spent a record £40m on Joelinton, who can’t play let alone score.
“And they bought Muto. He scored one goal and they couldn’t get rid of him for a long while after realising very early on the fella was an absolute no-hoper.
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“I’ve not criticised Rafa at all but on this occasion he was wrong.
“Ivan Toney was also sold that summer and what a partnership that could’ve been!
“Adam is an out-and-out goalscorer who reminds me of Tony Cottee — on the small side but very quick, very agile, always facing the goal and ice-cool in one-on-one situations.
“One of the main reasons I was scratching my head was that Rafa never let him test that pace, the one thing that frightens centre-halves, at the top level.
“I felt really sorry for the lad but it’s worked out well for him and the move to Southampton is absolutely perfect.
“I really do believe he will be cracking in 20 goals or more and move higher up in a few years.
“It’s crazy they let Adam go and a year later spent a record £40m on Joelinton, who can’t play let alone score
Malcolm MacDonald on the sale of Adam Armstrong
“I’ve no doubt Adam will have family in the ground and he’ll be chomping at the bit to prove how wrong they were.”
Born in West Denton, Armstrong joined Newcastle aged nine and became the second-youngest Mags player to play in the Premier League when Alan Pardew gave him his debut against Fulham in March 2014 — a month after turning 17.
His 37 goals in 115 games during loans at Coventry, Barnsley, Bolton and Blackburn saw him back home, battle-hardened and out to impress Benitez in the summer of 2018.
But the Spaniard cashed in after Armstrong made 21 appearances for the Magpies.
A total of 58 league goals at Rovers followed, while Brentford striker Toney worked his way back up from Peterborough.
Exciting youngster Bobby Clark, 16, left the academy for Liverpool on Thursday after face-to-face talks with Jurgen Klopp.
And Macdonald, 71, shares the Toon Army’s concerns over the alarming talent drain at Mike Ashley’s Newcastle.
He added: “There’s a problem at the club. There have been a lot of youngsters, not just Adam and Ivan, who have not gained much experience with the first team.
“Middlesbrough and Sunderland up here in the North East have far better training facilities than Newcastle.
“It’s left them very restricted in terms of the kids they could bring in.
“They have completely hampered themselves.”
Macdonald will be at St James’ Park today, as he was for the 4-2 defeat by West Ham on the opening weekend.
Steve Bruce’s side threw away two leads and conceded the last three in 13 minutes after the break.
A 2-0 loss at Aston Villa followed before Burnley dumped Newcastle out of the Carabao Cup on penalties.
Macdonald said: “They are in a real mess.
“Against West Ham they were an utter shambles in the second half. The disorganisation was frightening.
“I can’t help but get the feeling that it’s all beyond Steve Bruce.
“Sadly, relegation is a real possibility. The squad hasn’t improved and there is that creeping feeling of desperation with the supporters.
“If I could find a positive then I’d give one!”
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