Your central midfield pairing is quite literally the ‘heart’ of the team, without a strong beating central organ the rest of the Newcastle United side can’t survive.
So it proved on Saturday against Manchester City.
Vurnon Anita will never succeed as a central midfield player in the Premier League – too small, too weak, doesn’t score goals, doesn’t create them and gives next to no protection to the defence.
Then you pair him with Yoan Gouffran.
Jack Colback is a very average football player but one thing he does do is run around a lot, which is just as well when he has ended up playing with Vurnon Anita this season.
Without the ginger Geordie, rumours all week had suggested that Steve McClaren was going to throw in Yoan Gouffran, a player who hadn’t played a single minute of Premier League football all season and had only made the bench once.
Yet he gets to start away at the best team in the country and in the most important position in the team, at the heart of it.
Can’t imagine how that plan might go wrong…
Just how bad/off the pace/knackered must Siem de jong be, to be overlooked in favour of Yoan Gouffran?
The first half Newcastle got away with it as Manchester City were not at it, possibly a hangover from a poor display lucky win in Germany in midweek.
There was no threat from centre midfield, with Kevin Mbabu helping to create a goal and another great chance for Mitrovic, whilst Janmaat, Perez and Sissoko combined well a number of times down the right.
Defensively the whole team kept their shape in that first half and helped to cover up the deficiencies of Anita and Gouffran.
When the going got tough in that second half, just watch for the midfield pairing to get going – anywhere but where the ball was!
I watched the MOTD highlights this morning and it was embarrassing.
Nearly every goal Gouffran and Anita are noticeable by their absence.
The fifth goal was a perfect illustration, as Manchester City had a quick break, the likes of Janmaat sprinted back to level up the numbers but juts have a look, Gouffran and Anita can clearly be seen just jogging back. There was still over half an hour to go!
Coloccini was shocking and Mbemba slipped up in that second half, but when they had that pair in front of them it was a disaster waiting to happen as the game was always going to open up at some point.
Maybe not as quickly as it actually did, but it would have done at some point.
You can’t carry players of their level in such a crucial area of the pitch.
People talk about the spine of the time being essential, well I think spineless is a fair description when you got to the midfield part of that spine.
When you have the gutless Moussa Sissoko added to the equation then you have even more serious problems.
A bit like strikers, you pay a premium for quality in the centre of midfield, Newcastle failed to invest there and instead we end up with water carrier Jack Colback and the likes of Yoan Gouffran and Vurnon Anita who wouldn’t get a game at any other Premier League club.
The possibility of Vurnon Anita and Yoan Gouffran playing there against Sunderland is already making me feel quite ill.
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