With Newcastle United reporting back for training last week and subsequently setting off to the US, eyes turned to the much awaited first signing (of many I hope!) of the summer transfer window.
With Georginio Wijnaldum, I’m relatively pleased with what I have heard from people who follow Dutch football, I’m also pleased that the transfer policy at least appears to have shifted with the £15m purchase.
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We have to hope that more players will follow that are from this kind of price bracket, as it’s a truism that you get what you pay for.
For every bargain Jack Colback, you find a Yohan Gouffran. Gouffran for example, should not be pilloried by our fans, he is a hard working honest footballer, who in a good team will knock a couple of goals in here and there.
But signing strikers for £1m will not get you a 15 goal a season hit-man. Even the £6m we bought Emmanuel Riviere for has got us a striker that simply won’t be good enough in the Premier League. We can’t compete with the likes of Chelsea for the £30m Diego Costas of this world and the likes of Raheem Sterling going to Man City for £50m shows you, that deals can still be inflated way beyond what a player is actually worth.
The next subject is where we need to strengthen.
I hear talk from fans of two strikers and two centre backs, two midfielders and a couple of full backs and a couple of wingers. Well that means changing a whole team, which just isn’t going to work, or be financially viable.
The most important moves of the summer have taken place. We have a manager in place who has won things across Europe and he’s brought in his own backroom team. Unfortunately, he has had to dispense with the ‘best coach in the Premier League’ in the process, but that’s progress for you.
Now if you look at the squad as a whole and discard the whole ‘purples’ nonsense that has been spouted in the past, you begin to see a decent set of players, certainly not a group that needs a dozen new faces adding to it.
The goalkeeping situation is good enough as, despite slip-ups last season, Tim Krul is a good goalkeeper and anyone could be forgiven for looking less than comfortable at times last year.
With Karl Darlow having something to prove, we can forget about the goalkeeping situation and hope that someone takes Rob Elliot off our hands.
Up front I think we can all agree that we need a 15-20 goal a season man before a ball is even kicked in August. However, if that man is in place, I’d be more than happy with Ayoze Perez, Papiss Cisse and Adam Armstrong floating around. In the process, admitting defeat on Gouffran and Riviere.
In midfield we are actually overloaded with players. I’d go with an attacking forward three of De Jong, Wijnaldum and Sissoko backed up by Colback, keeping Anita, Cabella, Aarons and Abeid in reserve. That would mean Tiote and Obertan would be obvious departures.
Moving backwards to the nightmare that has been our defence.
Even the most optimistic of Newcastle fans would have to say that this has been a weak area for years and one that cannot be ignored.
You can have a Cisse knocking goals in regularly (let’s be fair, he scored quite a few last season from his limited appearances) but if you’re shipping goals at the other end like we did, then even a 30 goal a season striker would struggle to bail his defenders out.
Put simply, allowing this charade of a problem to continue is not acceptable. If we don’t sign anyone of quality at the back this summer, then we go into another season with the same centre-back pairing as the one that came up from the Championship FIVE years ago.
I’m happy with Daryl Janmaat as we have one of the best right-backs in the league without question, although what happens if/when he gets a suspension or an injury remains to be seen.
Presumably Vurnon Anita will be despatched out right, which is not acceptable. Janmaat stands out a mile as a player of genuine quality in a back four deserving of criticism. It’s across the back line we need to have cause for concern.
In Lascelles we have one for the future, a player who should be nurtured so that what happened to Steven Taylor doesn’t happen to this new lad. That unfortunately means dispensing with Steven Taylor himself.
How he’s been allowed to remain at such a level without improvement, or being moved on, is a mystery to me.
It’s obvious that, in the eyes of our managers/owners it would cost too much to replace him. This needs to be addressed, although I have severe doubts that it will.
If it’s ok to spend £15m on Wijnaldum for the midfield, then surely a similar amount is needed to plug the gap at the back. Ryan Shawcross at Stoke for example – for me another potential captain.
On that subject, I have my doubts over Fabricio Coloccini. He’s no longer the assured member of the squad he once was and his leadership abilities are back in Argentina where he surely wants to be.
If he can’t give us a solid 12 months then he too must be replaced along with Mike Williamson, which is where the budget starts to increase.
I’m not entirely happy with what we have at left-back but it’s a position that’s quite a hard one to get right. A good left-back is very hard to find, hence why Davide Santon was shoehorned into that role when he was actually a better right-back. Haidara and Dummett might just have to fight it out for that position themselves.
So there we have it, a goal getter (Charlie Austin?) two brash centre-backs (Shawrcross) and cover at right-back.
Georginio Wijnaldum is a great start to business this summer and we don’t need a whole team worth of new recruits, however, with the season just over three weeks away, work needs to continue apace. Time’s running out.