Already, those supporting Newcastle United appear to be in for a better season. There were many things, both positive and negative, to take away from the Southampton game.
However, it’s hard to not feel encouraged after a performance that saw the Magpies field entertaining football with a squad that is still getting to know each other.
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The day was not absent of flaws, however. I’m sure I was not the only fan who experienced a feeling of pessimism when the line-up was released. No Aarons? No de Jong? A rusty Coloccini paired with a very fresh addition in the form of Mbemba? I was very sceptical.
I’m very happy that, at least on this occasion, Coach Steve McClaren’s choices were justified. I, like many, am not optimistic on Obertan. He is good at what he does (run and cross), but he is as one-dimensional as they come.
Apparently, it was a dimension McClaren valued against Southampton and the decision paid off, as Obertan registered a brilliant counter and assist on Wijnaldum’s cracking goal.
Despite the positives gained from Obertan’s start, I think that Aarons just has to be playing. I was shocked that he didn’t even feature as a playing sub, although maybe McClaren would have put him in if he had not been forced to waste a substitution after Anita was injured.
And it is easy to forget that Aarons is still so, so young and, due to injuries, has yet to perform on the big stage consistently – but I am dying to know how good this kid can be. Plus, I know the rest of Newcastle nation is as well.
When he has played, he has looked like the team’s best player. One of those guys who can just make things happen, when you have somebody like that, I think you have to just let him loose.
At the very least, Aarons’ performances have merited an impact sub status. If McClaren wants to bring him along slowly, fine. But the lad is too good to be riding the bench.
As for the defensive pairing, the rust definitely showed.
Especially with Colo, who looked a step (or many steps) too slow. Hopefully with more game time he will improve.
I really liked what I saw from Mbemba. He made some mistakes but he also made some good, aggressive plays to win the ball.
He might be a tad weak in the air, but he has a quick step and is very athletic. He can certainly jump high enough; if he strengthens up he can be a solid Premier League defender.
I would love to see de Jong in the starting squad. He is a savvy player and I think he has goals in him. But after some thought, it is tough to fit him into the current formation. Especially if McClaren wants to play two holding midfielders.
Wijnaldum effectively established himself as this team’s number ten with Sunday’s performance and de Jong is not a wing player. He could play as a second forward, but that would remove someone from the midfield.
A selection issue like this is a good issue, but for now, de Jong looks like a substitute. Sliding Wijnaldum to a holding midfield role would allow de Jong to be the number ten but Wijnaldum looks to be a special player. I’d rather see him closer to goal.
And lastly, how about Jack Colback?
He certainly is not the most adept at picking out passes in the final third but he is otherwise solid in the possession game and leaves it all on the field. Colback was all over the field Sunday and made a great sliding block that probably prevented a goal. With shifts like that, Colback could be a future captain for the Magpies.
It will be interesting to see what line-up McClaren goes with against Swansea.
If you have any strong feelings (which I’m sure you do) about who should start, let them be known in the comments below!