Forget the ongoing boredom on transfers and will they or won’t they. I would like to throw in a concern about our dynamic midfield duo and how they may react next season to opposition teams deliberately targeting them. There is little doubt that Cabaye and Tiote are superb players and the heart of the team – as a 2 in midfield they can dominate a 3 and win games and certainly if there is only 2 in the opposition midfield they win the battle every time.

However, towards the end of last season they were becoming increasingly targeted by the oppo (and not just O’Neill’s thugs) hoping for a reaction and a sending off. We all know that Tiote plays on the edge (which in many ways makes him the player he is) but I for one spend much of many games on tenterhooks waiting for the referee to lose patience with him and send him off. Many may think that he knows the limits within which to play, I cannot help thinking he got a little lucky at times!

Cabaye is a different case – normally calm and controlled, there were a few occasions when he lost his rag or played a bit of a cry baby when hit hard by the opposition thugs. He is our playmaker, our real quality in the middle of the park and hopefully he will learn to accept being targeted.

Is there anything Pardew can do? Well playing a 3rd midfield player in Jonas seemed a smart move, not only pushing Cabaye forward but also relieving the pressure on the midfield 2. In the absence of any type of midfield signing who is going to help out, I think that will be where Jonas ends up but he is the only one with the energy to do the job properly in the current squad – Gosling is disappointing, Abeid and the new lad are young and Raylor is not good enough for central duties.

Jonnie runs a walking and guiding company in the north of England. Visit his excellent website at Where2walk to find out more

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  • Luca

    I think its a fair point but remember as soon as you remove spiderman from the left somebody has to play there. Last season it was Demba and I cant see him too happy to start the season out wide where he finished last season. I believe we should have Demba and Papiss up front in home games and where the opposition play with 2 in centre mid but as soon as other teams flood the midfield with 3 then Jonas will need to bolster ours and Demba will have to be happy out left.

    • HamburgerToon

      Marveux, if fit, should play out left if Jonas is inside. He has already shown that he has the pace and trickery similar to Ben Arfa to beat a man a whip in a good ball or win a pen, something we didn’t do enough last season. As for our central midfielders, we need another creative midfielder in as if we lose Cabaye to injury,suspension or another club, we are quite simply screwed as he is almost our sole hope to create chances from centre.

  • Jolyon

    Im not so sure we should over look Gosling, the lad has had a good run of games recently during pre season and looks very good (well so ive heard from pard’s interviews). Ive got a feeling this season is going to be about being versatile like last time. I think we showed against teams like west brom and liverpool that we can beat teams with good football in a 4-3-3 but there will also be matches when the match will be won in midfield and Gosling will be important for that. I remember a few tight matches like the1-0 against QPR and Norwich. We were able to repeatedly surprise teams by playing different types of football, we shouldn’t rely on one way of playing to get to europe again.