Mac aims to show he can stand midfield heat - for club and country

·4-min read
Alexis Mac Allister combines with Moises Caicedo
Alexis Mac Allister combines with Moises Caicedo

Alexis Mac Allister hopes he might have had a taste of Qatar in the opening game at the Amex.

Not only because of the heat as temperatures soared past 30degC.

He would also love it to be because he is out there in the thick of the action when Argentina tackle the World Cup in similar conditions.

The Albion midfielder says he is in great shape physically ahead of a huge year.

He is also enjoying the challenge of a central, quite deep, midfield role as part of the Seagulls’ encouraging start to the season.

So could he be out there in the heat of midfield battle in Qatar?

“Yes, hopefully. And yes, it was hot today!” he said after the 0-0 draw with Newcastle.

“The important thing is to be in Qatar, then in which position.

“For the national team and here, the important thing is to be on the pitch and then to help team-mates where they need me, be it as a ten, eight or six.

“I’ll try and do my best.”

Albion might have got the best of Mac Allister with the task they have given him in midfield.

He loves to be on the ball and is an under-rated user of possession.

At the same time, his goals return in open play has probably not matched what was expected when he first arrived from Argentina.

On Saturday, no player had more than his 64 touches of the ball, though that figure was matched by three defenders – Joel Veltman, Dan Burn and Kieran Trippier.

Mac Allister said: “It is different to what I’ve been used to for some time.

“But it’s a position I like and I think I can do it well.

“My team-mates and the coaches help me a lot to grow every day.

“It’s a job I can do comfortably.

“I like to always be in contact with the ball.

“In this position, I will be permanently in contact with the ball.

“I make a lot of decisions and I also help out defensively.

“I think defensively is a part of the game I have improved a lot on in these recent times.

“I feel very good physically and I think that is important for this big year ahead.”

The Argentina staff have reaped the benefit of their ‘new’ player in midfield.

They made it clear they had been pleasantly surprised by the development when he reported for fixtures at the end of last season.

He said: “The first day I arrived with the national team in May or June, they said they had the idea of using me as a No.5 as we call it – in Europe it’s the No.6.

“But they could see qualities for me to do that well.

“I am very conscious it is a new position for me and I need to improve a lot more.

“But I think I am on the right track and I’m happy.”

Albion, too, appear to be heading in the right direction with just one defeat since March, and that away to Manchester City.

Against Newcastle, they grew stronger as the game wore on and should have added to the opening win at Manchester United.

That was after an opening 45 minutes which saw Toon enjoy a promising spell once they had weathered a bright start for their hosts.

Mc Allister said: “I think in the first half we didn’t play well.

“We made a lot of mistakes in possession of the ball.

“Lots of passes were poorly played. But I think at all time we tried to play, tried to do what we had planned, what we wanted to do.

“In the second half you saw a bit more the idea of the team.

“We got forward a lot more but unfortunately, we couldn’t convert it into the goal we needed to win.

“We are a bit frustrated because we wanted to win and we knew six points would have been the perfect start for us and I think we deserved it as well “From that side, a bit of frustration.

“But in general terms we are in a very good shape.

“We have been working hard physically and on the ideas of how we want to play.

“So we are on the right track and we need to continue.”