The truth that we surely have to accept is that only 7 Newcastle players were available against Burnley who are Premier League quality, at the moment anyway.
You can talk all you want about what formation to use and why didn’t John Carver do this or that, but we currently have a very poor pool of players to choose from overall.
The first half against Burnley saw a high energy display and attacking formation cover up the inadequacies, with the better players such as Janmaat, Sissoko and others making some of their teammates look ok.
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Managers when making substitutions look to give the other team problems and so when things went pear-shaped in the second-half yesterday, John Carver had to do something.
The question of course is what?
First of all he dragged the hopeless Emmanuel Riviere off after 57 minutes and replaced him with 17 year old Adam Armstrong. We all hope he could be a future star but he looked like a kid who’d wandered onto the pitch yesterday, far too much to ask but what other options to play as a striker?
The club have failed to come clean as to exactly what was behind the Facundo Ferreyra loan deal which involved never ever playing him and seemingly he is soon to go elsewhere. However, there must be either something seriously wrong with the player, or with the loan deal, as to why he wasn’t at least on the bench yesterday.
Only three minutes after that, Carver was forced to put on Mike Williamson when Steven Taylor ruptured his achilles tendon. Willo tries but he is another sad indictment of teh Ashley/Pardew era, a player who should be running out at a poor Championship club or League One, not expected to do a job in the Premier League.
The shocking Yoan Gouffran was the third to be dragged off, reserve left-back Massadio Haidara (who has gone seriously backwards in recent months) brought on to give us inspiration going forward…
The other options on the bench were Vurnon Anita, Davide Saton and Remy Cabella.
Anita offers absolutely nothing, Santon has had an hour of reserve team football after nine months out, while Remy Cabella has shown nothing so far.
Daryl Janmaat alone has scored more goals in the Premier League than Riviere and created more than Remy Cabella, as well as being Newcastle’s best defender!
The gulf between our small number of our very good players (Janmaat, Sissoko and Perez) and most of the rest is staggering. A few others are Premier League standard (Colo, Taylor, Dummett, Colback) to varying degrees but as for the rest…
Davide Santon is clearly not ready to play, while Haidara and especially Tiote are way off what they have previously shown. Sadly Alnwick is nowhere near the quality needed and Woodman and Armstrong aren’t ready for what is needed now.
Returning players from injury will paper over the cracks possibly to some degree but apart from Tim Krul and Siem De Jong (and Papiss Cisse when back from Africa), which proven players are we actually waiting on? It is even being generous including De Jong because while we all hope for the best, there is no guarantee he won’t be another Anita or Riviere when asked to step up to the Premier League.
Aarons and Abeid have played a couple of decent games but the are still unknown quantities, mainly due to Alan Pardew’s refusal to give young players a chance, except in desperation. The departing manager preferring to play Shola and Gosling earlier this year despite nothing to play for in the final months of the season.
Newcastle obviously need to invest in a quality manager but even if Mike Ashley accepted that, it is worthless unless he allows a squad strong enough in numbers and quality to be put together.
Here are the eighteen players on duty yesterday with descending order of who I believe was fit and ready to do a job in the Premier League yesterday (Sissoko our best player and Santon very bottom because he is not fit yet), the first seven in bold being good enough, in my opinion.