Newcastle United currently have numerous problems, on and off the pitch.
It’s said that Tiote and Cisse are not happy, our manager has not won a league game for so far, and as such is coming under pressure following the last two inept displays from the side.
Whilst other than our right back, we don’t seem to have a threat to the opposition and our first choice striker is quite frankly, a maniac.
But two things have been getting pointed out more than anything else, those two things being…
Firstly, our midfield is terrible in an offensive sense, playing with 2 holding midfielders and
Secondly, at centre-back our captain is too slow to play in games where we are not playing deep.
The problem in the midfield is of course that the our two holding midfielders are not very good defensively, both Anita and Colback struggle in the tackle and they don’t read the game well enough to be able to intercept passes to the forward line of our opponents.
Colback is a hard worker and will chase the ball all day long, but has started the season poorly after finishing the last one similarly.
Anita is decent in possession and can stick to a man if he has to, but despite 3 or 4 good games early on, has had two poor games in a row and the questions of him that have always been asked about his physicality are cropping up again.
The fact is that the two of them are not good enough to play the defensive role alone and as such, both are having to play.
Now in terms of recruitment, I thought a defensive midfielder should have brought in during the window and considering de Jong was already here, I was stunned that we signed Wijnaldum and not a defensive midfielder instead. Although Gini is a talented player, it felt a bit wasteful considering the other problems in the team.
Now both Colback and Anita playing is actually very damaging to the team offensively and as we have seen, is one of the factors as to why creatively we have been so inept. I think that a fully fit, fully committed, Tiote playing alongside someone like Wijnaldum or Sissoko, would be the answer in defensive midfield.
However, Tiote is not match fit and in fact he looks like he is lacking fitness more than Ben Arfa ever did. Whilst I think we are all fairly confident that even if the bad apple rumors are not true, he is not at all committed to the club.
Moving on to the centre-back, it’s fair to say that Coloccini has had a rather interesting start to the season.
He was good against Arsenal and Manchester but poor against the likes of Watford and West Ham. not to mention his frailty in the air against Swansea and a difficult day against Pelle (Southampton).
He might have good games when we are on the back-foot and playing very deep against short strikers but that isn’t enough.
Mbemba has the same vulnerability in the air (although he is a bit stronger than Colo based on early evidence) but is a lot stronger and faster, when we are a little bit more progressive in our play and higher up the pitch he looks the better defender. It is more difficult for quick strikers to find space in behind him as long as he keeps his focus. But like Coloccini in the past, he needs a partner who is good in the air and can deal with the tall and powerful strikers such as Pelle.
So if Coloccini cannot play alongside Mbemba, who should be dropped to allow the likes of Taylor, Dummett or Lascelles to come in and provide a more physical presence?
Well I believe that Coloccini is a decent player technically and also good in tackle, is able to track and mark a man, plus he can control a ball and pass it better than most of the players we have had over the last few years. He can pass forwards with intent, then when needed just retain possession and most importantly, he reads the game fantastically well.
But to be a centre-back in the premier league you can’t be both slow and unable to win a contested header, because than every team will have a player who can best you in some way, your only hope is to sit deep against teams without big players.
However, he is our captain and as such our manager would never drop him, although the question is what can McClaren do to fix our defence and keep his captain in the side?
Well defensively I think most would agree that Coloccini is better than Anita or Colback, he certainly has the technical ability to play higher up the pitch and could probably keep the ball about as well as Colback and Anita do.
I think that Coloccini can still have a vital and productive role in this team, just not the role he has always played.
Moving into midfield is the way for him to do so and it seems at least to me to be something that would massively benefit the team, as he could offer more protection to the defence than Colback and Anita can, he would allow us to play someone like Wijnaldum or Sissoko in the midfield.
Defensively we could have someone who would prove a more complementary partner to Mbemba and I think if Coloccini played in defensive midfield the end result would be a Newcastle United that looked a lot more solid defensively and allow Steve McClaren a lot more freedom to tinker with the team.
Coloccini is still here for two more years and despite the fact he has lost his legs a little is still a good footballer, he just needs a new role and that new role can solve quite a few issues for the manager.
Just a shame he will never read this.
(To feature like Clayton, send in your articles for our website to [email protected])