Fringe players like Guthrie, Forster, Smith and Best have headed out of the door but have we got 18 players you have absolute faith in, not just who will do their best but who also have the quality to win matches as starters or from the bench, not just fill a shirt.
I believe the following have more than proved themselves as deserving a place in our top 18, though with Marveaux I accept that is based on only a handful of sightings;
Goalkeepers – Tim Krul
Defenders – Danny Simpson, Fabricio Coloccini, Steven Taylor, Davide Santon
Midfield – Yohan Cabaye, Cheick Tiote, Hatem Ben Arfa, Jonas Guiterrez, Sylvain Marveaux
Strikers – Papiss Cisse, Demba Ba
The rest of the squad you could divide in two – young players such as James Tavernier, Shane Ferguson, Sammy Ameobi, Haris Vuckic, Medhi Abeid, Romain Amalfitano, then the other more senior pros including Shola, Mike Williamson, Ryan Taylor, James Perch, Gabriel Obertan, Dan Gosling and Rob Elliot.
I would say you have to have a solid first eighteen not including the kids because you want to include them in your first team plans when you choose, not out of necessity.
So leaving the kids to one side, I’ve identified twelve players who I’d be more than happy with, which leaves room for six more…assuming my twelve nominees are still here in September.
It isn’t a case of writing off the senior pros I haven’t automatically included in my first eighteen, more a case of I believe for the club to be moving forward I wouldn’t like to see more than any two of Shola, Williamson, Raylor, Perch, Obertan, Gosling and Elliot in our first eighteen at any one time.
So two from that group plus the twelve I’ve selected, leaves room for, and the necessity of, four more players.
If the Douglas deals go through then that would leave three more needed and when you consider that Forster, Smith, Guthrie and Best have just left then in theory there should be at least three needed to come in to bolster the squad and take it to a higher level.
Saving the likes of Smith’s ridiculous wages won’t do Alan Pardew any harm as he wheels and deals with whatever budget Ashley has indicated.
My three for the first choice eighteen would be another goalscorer to go alongside Ba and Cisse, midfield cover/competition for Tiote and Cabaye, plus preferably somebody to go straight in as first choice right-back – Debuchy would be class if that deal became a reality.
I feel with that kind of squad strength Newcastle could really build on last season’s achievements and as an added bonus that level of squad strengthening looks more than realistic.
Alan Pardew could even pull this off under budget, a progressive squad and a smile on Mike Ashley’s face – no wonder our owner is rumoured to be more than happy with the job the manager is doing.
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