Since the end of the near disaster that was last season, I have heard many fans say that one of the reasons we have struggled so much in recent seasons, is because Newcastle have had too many foreign players and not enough English/British/Irish players,
I have always disagreed with this but now I believe it is becoming a more prominent belief as illustrated by an article on the Chronicle website recently.
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The article goes on to imply that Southampton. Swansea and Stoke who finished 7th, 8th and 9th did so because they had a higher percentage of British and Irish players than we did.
I find that thought absolutely ridiculous to come to that conclusion and even more ridiculous that they randomly picked the 3 teams in 7th, 8th and 9th to show comparisons to.
Why not compare to Burnley, Hull, QPR and the mackems, who also had more British and Irish players in their squad?
If you then go to look at those 3 teams, you will in any case see that there are other factors to their success. If you consider the managers of those teams, you have a trios who set their teams out positively first and foremost, which a is a key aspect in my view.
Southampton in Ronald Koeman have a manager who was a top player and has succeeded well at Feyenoord, prior to getting this current, job and has carried on Mauricio Pochettino’s good work.
Swansea have a man who has come through the ‘boot room’ to keep the team playing with a club philosophy that has served them well over the years.
Whilst even Stoke have a man in Mark Hughes who has experience and in the last year has taken the shackles off what was an ultra-negative Stoke team.
We on the other hand, had Pardew and then his incompetent assistant Carver.
You can then look at the key players of these 3 teams to see where these British and Irish players are having key contributions and how would they improve a Newcastle team and get us up the league:
At Southampton they had/have Nathaniel Clyne and James Ward Prowse, both good players but how many of you really would swap them for Janmaat or Sissoko (based as a number 10)?
If I was looking at Southampton’s team at players who would really improve us, it would be the power of Pelle, the pace of Mane, the composure of Schneiderlin and the power of Wanyama that would make a difference and guess what, they are all foreign.
Again, when you look at Swansea, Williams would be an upgrade on what we have – but that is more a comment on how bad we are at the back. Dyer and Routledge do well but having watched Routledge here, I’d say they were both more system players. Another who is popular is Shelvey but in my opinion I would not swap him for any of our centre midfielders, he is just a bald Craig Gardner to me.
Looking at the players who played last season for Swansea and the ones who would really boost us up the table, it would be the foreigners again, The centre forwards of Bony and Gomis (both who we wouldn’t pay the going rate for) would give the power and quality up top, then the one player who makes Swansea tick is Gylfi Siggurdsson. Exactly the type of player we have been missing, very similar to Cabaye, and we all know a player like that can move you up the table.
Finally, we look at Stoke where there is a British/Irish player who would be top notch for us and that is Ryan Shawcross who is a leader and a warrior at the back. Other than that though at Stoke, it’s again the foreigners who star. Stoke were at their best with the brilliant Begovic in goal, the force of N’Zonzi in the midfield and the skills of Bojan and Arnautovic going forward.
Overall and generally I look at these 3 teams and see well coached sides who make use of British and Irish players to play in systems that allow the key players ( generally foreign) to flourish. Whether these players need to be British and Irish is debateable.
One thing these players have in common is that though that they are quality players and suited to the premier league, or have previous premier league experience.
I don’t think nationality matters but having premier league experience is clearly a good thing to have. Whilst if not being ‘premier league ready’ is important, to me you can come from Carlisle or the Congo, it doesn’t matter as long as you have the right footballing abilities and attitudes.
The suitability (or lack of it) for the premier league is a key mistake in some of our signings in recent years,
Vurnon Anita: as much as I think he has ability, Stevie Wonder could see he would have problems with the physical aspects of the game.
Whilst anyone who watched him play at Montpelier, could have told you our star signing of last summer, Remy Cabella, was lightweight and would take a long time to adapt in a more physical league (if he ever adapts at all).
Though saying that, the likes of Krul, Colo, Sissoko and Janmaat are key players for us and we would have went down without them.
I look at our current squad and think if we had a team of the quality of our British and Irish players, we would struggle to be mid-table in the championship. Colback is the class act and he is a more ‘does a solid job’ type, whilst others such as Sammy, Dummett, Willo and Elliot don’t look like they should be footballers, never mind premier league players.
If you asked me now who I would sign this year, a lot would be British and Irish but that is nothing to do with where they are from – just that I think they are the best options for the team. Players are class, or not, because of who they are and not where they are from.
So to summarise, I believe we need to avoid getting caught up in the ‘British and Irish trap’ in players to come in (if any come in…they have to don’t they?).
We need to get players with the right attributes and attitudes for moving forward and one of those attributes is not nationality.
Benton to Buenos Aires it doesn’t matter as long as they do the job on the pitch.