There is an ongoing, year after year, Newcastle United problem, that everybody is choosing to ignore.
The defence is absolutely rotten.
United have the same three senior centre-backs that played in the Championship…and it shows.
This season Newcastle have the third worst defence in the Premier League with 35 goals conceded in 22 matches, if that average per game continues then it would be 60 goals in the back of Newcastle’s net by the end of the season.
2013/14 Newcastle conceded 59 goals, only 5 other Premier League clubs had a worse defensive record.
2012/13 Newcastle conceded 68 goals, with only 3 other PL clubs having a worse record.
Even in 2011/12 when United had that fifth place finish, they still conceded 51 goals – with only 9 other clubs conceding more.
2010/11, the first season after promotion, Newcastle let in 57 goals, 8 others conceding more.
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The bottom line is how can we have any expectation of competing when the Newcastle defence is clearly not even a top half of the table one, never mind a top 7 one, which is the very minimum we should be aspiring to, in line with our club’s finances compared to the rest.
This is what each club have conceded so far;
33 Crystal Palace
29 West Brom
25 West Ham
25 Aston Villa
22 Man City
21 Man Utd
We all know that Mike Ashley has refused to properly invest in the Newcastle squad year after year but I think we have all managed to miss just how badly the defence has been treated.
Since promotion in 2010, Newcastle have made only of what you could term 10 first team squad defensive signings, though that is being very generous.
Half of them;Danny Simpson, James Perch, Jamaal Lascelles, Karl Darlow and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa have came in but are no longer at the club, at least for now. The first two were budget buys who have since been sold, the next two currently can’t get a game in the Championship for Nottingham Forest, while Mapou was clearly a signing Alan Pardew had absolutely nothing to do with and never gave a proper chance to.
You then have Massadio Haidara who was brought in for a couple of million as a 20 year old ‘one for the future’ and Davide Santon who has divided opinion since his arrival as to whether he is actually even a defender.
Another of the defensive buys who is no longer here is Mathieu Debuchy, subsequently traded in and Daryl Janmaat arrived for half his fee.
Completing the defensive misery, a masterstroke saw us landed with Rob Elliot whilst home grown future England goalkeeper Fraser Forster was allowed to leave, incidentally the same Fraser Forster who has easily the best record in the Premier League this season.
So four and a half years of ‘investment’ in the defensive transfer market has brought us the very good Daryl Janmaat, and that is about it. Santon and Haidara have had their moments but I don’t think either of them really convinces as the answer on the left, certainly not when you balance it against what Janmaat gives on the right.
Even way before that 2008/09 relegation season, Newcastle United have been crying out for a quality commanding centre-back who will lead and organise.
We are still stuck with that same trio that played in the Championship; Coloccini, Steven Taylor and Mike Williamson.
We may still be crying out for a credible striker and at least one quality creative player but compared to the ridiculous underfunding at the back, the money spent on midfielders/forwards in these last four and a half years almost looks respectable.
Clearly Mike Ashley sees the defence as something that he could get away with spending as little as possible on because it is harder to gauge the shortcomings of individuals, whereas with midfeilders/strikers you can count up goals and assists easily.
Newcastle United have no credible defence and Mike Ashley has no defence for the way he has has cynically allowed things to get to this point where year after year problems aren’t addressed. Yet another joke part of his strategy of running Newcastle United on a shoestring and the only sure thing is that sometime that string will snap.