The duel setback of star man Yohan Cabaye’s departure and another derby day annihilation made last week a difficult one for Geordie fans to stomach, whilst also highlighting the dearth of depth within the current Newcastle United squad.
With that in mind, I’ve decided to separate the group into five different bands, based on quality, potential and stature within the club.
Players who have no place on the books of a Premiership football club, or youngsters who simply aren’t going to make it at the top level and should be released or sold at the soonest opportunity, this band includes:
Players unlikely to assist in re-energising the club, or youngsters with some potential, but rapidly running out of time to prove their worth. This band includes:
Decent prospects who should make it given time, or players with the talent to step their game up from what they are currently exhibiting on a regular basis. This band includes:
Luuk De Jong
Accomplished players, clearly good enough for the side and worthy of a regular starting berth, or youngsters who are well ahead of the majority of peers in their age group. This band includes:
Players integral to the setup of the side. Their absence is always a huge blow and they could comfortably command a place in most Premiership clubs’ starting elevens. ‘Wonderkids’ such as a 16-year old Wayne Rooney would also be placed here. This band includes:
Looking at that info, the squad only had four consistently excellent players within its ranks when things got underway this term – one of those has exited already, while two of the other three have their baggage in the departure lounge (Remy not even ours and Coloccini having already made clear he’s desperate to leave).
Gouffran certainly has metronomic consistency in his game, but he is a decent player rather than a top-notch one, thus he finds his barrier in band four.
Adam Armstrong is our brightest prospect among the youth side of things, blessed with an endomorphic physique and presence that is evidently lacking in his slender namesake, Mr Campbell, hence the inclusion of them one band apart.
I propose that we release or sell ALL of band one and anyone over the age of 22 in band two (unless Pardew’s faith and Marveaux’s fragile body combine to allow the winger an extended run of games.)
Band three is a tricky one, as the likes of Santon and Mbiwa are ultra talented players, riddled with inconsistency when they play.
In the Italian’s case there are two other left backs at the manager’s disposal and he seems reluctant to advance the former Inter Milan starlet further forward. Wouldn’t the left footed Haidara provide far better balance to the back four?
Mike Williamson deserves a mention, he is unfortunate not to scrape into the middle band by virtue of some efficient displays when paired with Colo and Mbiwa. Sadly Steven Taylor’s return to action has coincided with the lanky defender’s regression to former bungling ways.
Taylor himself looks completely spent as a top-level footballer, he could do a decent job in the Championship in the handful of games he’s fit for each season, Mike Ashley and his cohorts should tout him around the second-tier this summer.
Band four players are likely to be our leading retained assets by the start of next season, barring unlikely investment, a takeover or, more pessimistically, their own collective evacuation.
Should the latter occur, then a squad whose remaining principle members are an assortment of bands 1-3 will be destined for a painful demise and second relegation under this administration.
As we lamentably witnessed last Saturday afternoon, even shorn of just four of the upper echelon, our team suddenly descends into a chaotic collection of bumbling misfits without any on pitch leadership.
It is probably no longer feasible to attract band five level players to Tyneside, certainly not under this regime. What they were doing well and must strive to sustain going forward, is attracting budding talent with the capacity and ambition for considerable personal and professional growth.
Inevitably that will facilitate the use of NUFC as a stepping-stone for ambitious saplings over the next few seasons, but if run properly it can counter-intuitively make Tyneside an enticing proposition for those not quite ready to join the elite, with the need to sell hopefully dwindling over time, as has been the case with Spurs/Everton.
That all depends on the owner of course, who may already have decided to cash his chips in an effort to penny pinch before unsympathetically abandoning the remaining husk.
Another dismal transfer window in the summer would provide a definitive answer to that conundrum, but until then we can only hope that Mr Ashley has some sort of cunning blueprint for joyous days ahead, if not then he should make a concerted effort to sell up and divide his energy between Sports Direct and events at Ibrox Stadium.
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