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Newcastle Need To Know Their Left From Their Right

8 years ago
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After possibly the worst display from NUFC this season (home to West Brom)  I couldn’t help but look through my hands that were over my eyes and think…would our ‘European team’ beat our Premier League outfit?

The more I thought about it, the more I decided, probably yea. If the two sides squared up against each other at St James’ Park, the team in green would look the more impressive. So considering clubs get criticised for playing ‘weaker’ sides in Europe, what’s going on?

Our line up versus West Brom had more of our senior players but it did not play anywhere near as well as the younger ones did on Thursday night, or against Bordeaux a few weeks ago. So how can this be? For me, the answer lies in the balance of the side. I’ve asked myself the question of, is Shane Ferguson actually our best choice at left back? From what I saw again from us in the league without him, I would say definitely yes. The reason being he brings that balance to the side, particularly in attack, by being naturally left sided and sticking to the sideline. Something Jose Enrique did very well for us.

All too often when Santon got forward against West Brom he instantly cuts inside into a wall of traffic. He’s then forced to play it backwards or to try something impossible like an eye of the needle pass or a 30 yard strike. He does this in every game he plays at left back. When he does find himself in behind the opposition, he doesn’t have the left foot to whip the ball into the box. On the other side at right back, Danny Simpson showed again what I have witnessed for years now, he doesn’t even get forward full stop. How many times did Danny Simpson go beyond the halfway line and attack WBA’s left back? Hardly any. It’s criminal. I’ll be glad when he’s gone, I swear.

With Shane Ferguson in the team he gets forward down the left and attacks the defender down the outside. He then has the ability to whip the ball into the box with outstanding quality. He doesn’t go wandering around the centre of the pitch and get crowded out like Santon. He finds half a yard and delivers. Simplicity itself. What this also does is push Santon to right back. When Jonas went to left back and Santon went to right back in place of the hopefully soon to be exiting Simpson, Davide never cut inside once. He didn’t need to. He was on his comfortable side and he at least attempted crosses into the box. Santon supports his winger. Simpson does nothing but cover him. At home against teams like WBA, that isn’t good enough. Ferguson at left back and Santon at right back is the way forward.

Toon Bano can be followed on Twitter @ToonBano and he also runs his own excellent blog which you can visit here

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