Rafa Benitez has indicated that he will make changes for his Newcastle team to play Swansea on Saturday.
After the latest away day debacle at Southampton, the United Manager’s intention has been widely welcomed by Newcastle fans desperate for a change of fortune.
There is only one problem.
Everybody appears to be missing the major fault running through this thinking and belief that improvement can be found elsewhere – if you take some of the current first eleven out of the team, you have to replace them with other Newcastle players….
Who are these great alternatives?
Starting with the bench on Saturday at St.Mary’s:
Papiss Cisse – Was terrible against Norwich the week before and dropped, so hard to see why he should be included.
Siem de Jong – Another sub appearance at Southampton but once again offered nothing, has no pace and hard to see what could bring to the party.
Jamaal Lascelles – Great media interview after Saturday’s match, talking about how players need to show commitment. Has looked poor to average when playing but I suppose can’t be as bad as Steven Taylor was against Southampton. Not a great vote of confidence!
Cheick Tiote – Shocking at Norwich and dragged off at half-time, unused sub on Saturday and a player who is living off his form four years ago.
Gabriel Obertan – Fast – but hopeless and totally ineffective. His five year contract is at last up this summer and a potential change against Swansea – in the hope he has one of his two average games a season.
Paul Dummett – A bit like Lascelles for Taylor, hard to imagine him, or anybody else, being worse than Vurnon Anita was at Southampton and Norwich. Very limited and offers zero going forward but guessing he will be a change and hopefully lasts longer than his usual five minutes before picking up another injury. Could be big risk playing him, even from the view of how very likely it is that he will need to be subbed against Swansea.
Freddie Woodman – Karl Darlow has done kind of ok despite six conceded in the last two matches and Woodman is young and without experience, so no point making changes there.
After that who have we got?
Our anonymous and invisible captain Fabricio Coloccini, who picked up what was said to be a minor injury over two months ago and is still missing. Like Cheick Tiote, living (unsuccessfully) off his form and popularity four years ago.
Emmanuel Riviere with one PL goal in two seasons?
One change that will be made and despite his limitations should improve the Newcastle team marginally is Jack Colback who will be free from suspension.
Rolando Aarons seems to have gone backwards since the early promise he showed 18 months ago and would be a major gamble if involved.
Then we have the mysterious January signings: Seydou Doumbia and Henri Saivet.
After a few first team appearances Henri Saivet has been ignored for the first 11 for the last two and a half months and then left out of the squad altogether, whilst Doumbia has only been given 29 minutes in three sub appearance and now like Saivet, hasn’t even been included on the bench recently.
The above just sums up how difficult a job Rafa Benitez had/has, a dismal squad that has accumulated due to years of neglect and a woeful transfer strategy that Mike Ashley put in place and then been compounded by the failing Graham Carr and Lee Charnley.
So, clutching at very thin straws…Jack Colback will obviously come in against Swansea, Paul Dummett will very likely play if he can stand on one leg, Steven Taylor won’t get a game and so either Lascelles or Coloccini (if ‘fit’) will play.
Gabriel Obertan will very likely get on the pitch at some point, possibly even from the start, and the trio of de Jong, Cisse and Tiote will be all wondering whether it is their turn to disappoint yet again.
Other than that there are the wildcards of Saivet, Doumbia and Aarons.
I bet Rafa Benitez isn’t spending many peaceful nights as he thinks about his Newcastle team Swansea on Saturday….
What’s your choice?