Anybody who has seen much of the Newcastle United pre season friendly matches might be wondering exactly what has changed.
There does seem to be a little more intention to try and play football but there is still an abject lack of creativity and threat to goal generally.
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As for the defence…you may well be asking what defence?
We could though have salvation.
I don’t have great faith in any more signings coming in, so once Chancel Mbemba get shis work permit I reckon that will be about it.
So what chance have we got with a defence that can’t (apart from Janmaat) that can’t defend and the same midfield that continues to be made up of players (Colback, Anita, Sissoko) who tend not to score or create many goals?
Well I know that it isn’t the fashion these days but I think Newcastle have to go with two strikers: Cisse and Mitrovic.
They are two of our best players so have to play, it would be just plain daft to say leave Cisse out so that you can play the average/hopeless Anita in midfield.
The other component who can make up for the deficiencies elsewhere is Gini Wijnaldum, he has to be given the freedom to go where he pleases and ghost into the box to use his very special talent for putting the ball in the back of the net.
I’m sure Steve McClaren appreciates this and won’t do a ‘Pardew’ and try to turn him into an extra left-back.
Pre season has also hinted at a role for another Dutchman, that of supersub.
To me it is obvious that he is way off being fit enough to start but as a late substitute, Siem de Jong has looked far more the part in brief cameos at both Portland and Sheffield. Almost scoring in that final leg of the American tour, plus of course getting that rarest of things yesterday – a goal from a corner.
Hopefully by Autumn he may have recovered fully from almost two full years of injuries but I think it will take time for the former Ajax man to be properly sorted.
McClaren must see that whilst Chancel Mbemba might offer some help to the defence, the strengths of the players now at his disposal are going to be heading in the other direction.
It isn’t a case of all out attack but certainly in the short to medium term they just need to get the ball up to that trio of Mitrovic, Cisse and Wijnaldum with the likes of Sissoko using his energy in support.
Relying on a clean sheet is not an option!