This time last season I wrote an article talking about the deficiencies in our squad and compiled a list of potential players that we could recruit from the three relegated clubs.
Once again, that time has come around again. Arguably, we’re in an even worse position than we were last time out. So I’ve decided to do the same thing again. Here goes.
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Something I should mention at this point is that I wrote this article over a fortnight ago. I always write an article, leave it for a few hours and then come back with fresh eyes to edit it. I’ve been busy and haven’t managed to get around to it this time.
However, the point is; two weeks have passed and the problem positions I highlighted originally remain that way. When are we going to start fixing this broken squad? Well here’s a few suggestions for where we can start.
I think most people would agree we need striker.
In fact if a striker wasn’t at top of your Newcastle shopping list this summer, you’ve either spent the last year sectioned, or you’re a mackem. Then I’d argue we need another striker/support striker.
I actually believe our midfield is pretty decent. On form Sissoko is one of our best players without a doubt. Colback was a revelation last season. I’m arguing continuously with people at work about how good he is. When you’ve watched nearly every game and not just the snippets on Match of the Day; you see how often he breaks up moves, his calm, assured presence on the ball and his ability to retain position and play forward passes. He was my player of the season last year.
This is surprising as, if you dig into the archives and read my similar article last season, I was labelling him a squad player at best when his signing was announced. Then Abeid would be the final one in my midfield three (assuming our new gaffer plays a positive 4-3-3). However, although Abeid looks like he’s got potential, an extra man could be required to fit into that slot.
In terms of defence, there is one player that I would be happy to see retaining his position next season. I genuinely believe Janmaat is one of the best right-backs in the division and was an absolute credit in a shambles of a back four.
Beyond that, the rest of the defence needs a major face lift as it’s drooping out of control.
I welcome all comments below but I’d be surprised to find anyone that doesn’t agree this man is just what we need.
I said to someone halfway through the season that we needed Austin. The way we were playing, lumping it up to the lonely figure of Perez just wasn’t working. Hopefully McClaren ditches this tactic anyway, but had we had Austin with Perez playing off of him, I feel we would have been a lot more effective last season.
Regardless of the tactics we do use this coming season, Austin is a battling presence with the ability to put the ball where Riviere can’t.
Living in the South West I’ve been following Austin since his humble beginnings at Swindon; having been dragged from non-league club Poole. His workrate has been outstanding to get him from there all the way into the England squad. I think he’d be a real coup for us. Papers keep linking but don’t they always? I’ll see this as a significant statement of intent if we sign him up.
Unfortunately, the more time that passes the less likely I see this happening. We’ve been linked since the end of last season but there’s still not been so much as an official bid. If he really was our number one target why is he not already our player?
I won’t say much about him as, since originally writing this article, he’s traded Burley claret for Liverpool red. However, imagine a 4-3-3 with Austin leading the line and Ings and Perez playing off of him. That would have been mouthwatering. With Cisse, Cabella, Aarons and De Jong in reserve we’d always look like having excellent back up to account for injuries to the striker/attacking midfielder positions.
As I stated, I don’t think the centre midfield is the most pressing concern. Of the 400+ players we’ve been linked with this summer, my first choice would undoubtedly be Cabaye. I think a midfield three of him, Sissoko and Colback would give us some real strength and creativity.
But we’re talking about relegated players here. Huddlestone is a player that does a job. He can ping passes around the pitch and might even be able to deliver a half decent set-piece or two. He probably didn’t live up to the early promise he showed at Derby. Things never seemed to fully work out for him at Tottenham. But is he an improvement on Anita or the two released chaps. I should think so.
Sandro is a player I quite like. Powerful and determined; he can cause attackers and defenders issues in equal measure. Since originally penning this piece it’s been unveiled that the Brazilian played the entirety of last season without a work permit. So whether he’ll even be allowed back in England next season is debatable.
I was so impressed with the Scottish left-back at the start of the season. He tailed off towards the end, as did most of Hull City, but I think the youngster’s got a very bright future.
The jury is still out for me on Haidara, Santon is gone and Dummett seems more comfortable at centre back. We need a second left-back in my opinion and this guy could provide pace, width and quality crosses (to Austin hopefully) down the left flank. The one thing that could be questioned is his defensive capability and I feel he would certainly need two organised and assertive centre-backs to allow for the attacking nature of both Janmaat and Robertson. Which brings us on to…
I’d love to pick a pair of centre backs from the relegated clubs that are going to solve our defensive frailties but I just can’t do it. There’s nothing there to work with.
This time last year I picked Caulker out of Cardiff but he didn’t really show much last season and has been relegated with two clubs in a row now. Maybe he or Curtis Davies could be a squad player for us.
For me though we need to be signing proven players to shore up a broken defence. If Terry and Cahill are the equivalent to the Trident project, Colocinni and Williamson have been a dingy with a puncture. Let’s get the aptly nicknamed ‘Roncrete’ (Ron Vlaar) in and another proven centre back.
Mike Ashley would never ever, ever, ever, ever have this man back and I’m not claiming he can improve us on the pitch. His best days are gone but he’d still do a job.
More than anything though I feel last season and the year before and the year before, we were missing a Barton or Nolan in the dressing room. These are the type of players that turn games around with their motivation, as much as the talented ones that score or assist the goals. But this is one that will definitely never happen.
So there we have it. I’m not saying let’s solve all our problems by signing players that sank to the lower division with their clubs last season but I do think there’s talent to be poached.
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