This weekend in ‘his’ programme notes, Joe Kinnear declared ‘We have strength and depth in most areas’.
The older I get, the less likely I take for granted what somebody is saying is true, especially when it comes to Joe Kinnear and ‘his’ programme notes.
Well like Manchester City we did have 27 players listed on the back of the programme but who are they and are they strong and deep?
On Sunday we had our eleven starters who I think are all Premier League players, which to me is the very minimum standard for any player to be counted as part of a ‘strong and deep’ squad.
To decide whether somebody can be counted as good enough, just ask yourself whether if a player left Newcastle he would go to another Premier League club, that is the absolute lowest starting point – after that I would say players have to show they are capable of being better than just basic Premier League level but we’ll leave it at that for now.
Maybe the four weakest in terms of being proven Premier League ability, of the starting 11 v City, would be Mapou, Taylor, Anita and Williamson.
Giving all four the benefit of the doubt I’d say that despite the reservations others have about Steven Taylor I’d give him a tick, Williamson has done well recently and has maybe shown he has got enough, while Mapou’s title winning background in France gets him over the line, though arguably his Newcastle appearances haven’t – as yet, while I know others praise Anita but I’m still not exactly sure what he is and so I’ll include him on others’ support.
Who else? Well you can add the injured Coloccini and suspended Debuchy as automatically good enough, bringing us up to 13.
After that I would say out of the subs on Sunday I’d give the nod to Ben Arfa, Haidara and Cisse – taking our ‘squad’ up to 16, but who else is there?
I might have shown leniency to some players above but I think you would have a very hard job convincing me, or anybody else who has a clue, that any of our other subs would head to a Premier League club – Elliot, Marveaux, Sammy Ameobi and Gosling.
As for the rest, you surely couldn’t claim that the likes of Obertan, Shola or anybody else would get signed up by another Premier League club, though you always hope that just maybe somebody like Paul Dummett may improve in time.
Ironically, I would have added Jonas to make it 17 in our squad but clearly he is on his way.
When you really drill down though on Joe Kinnear’s statement about the ‘strength and depth’ of the squad then I think the picture gets even bleaker when you get beyond our obviously better players.
Out of the 16 I’ve named, Haidara has only played a handful of matches so is relatively untried and with current plight of Papiss Cisse, the fact that fans would be really really worried if Cisse replaced Remy for any reason, tells you all you need to know about our striking ‘strength’.
If you knock Remy, who is only on loan, off the list then we have 15 players fit for purpose in my opinion. That isn’t to say the rest are rubbish but you have to be honest and think about hearing the team line up and when you hear that Marveaux, Obertan, Dummett, Gosling etc are playing instead of Tiote, Sissoko, Santon and others, would your gut feeling not be worry that they are playing instead?
Even with more or less our first team playing we haven’t scored a goal in the last three Premier League matches and before that, without on loan Remy’s goals things would be desperate.
This isn’t doom and gloom but a statement of fact, most of us believe that we have a very decent first eleven but after that a very small handful of ready replacements.
If any of you think that adds up to a squad with ‘strength and depth’ then surely you are indeed Joe Kinnear, or whoever actually writes his programme notes.