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Newcastle Should Build Defence Around Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa

6 years ago
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Rumours are flying about that we are willing to negotiate with Bordeaux, negotiations regarding sending Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa on a subsidised loan to them this coming season.

Being a big fan of his, it’s sad enough reading that we are so willing to let him go, but to potentially send him away when we are getting nothing from it, is even worse.

Yanga came to us from Montpellier having captained them at the age of 22 through the 2011/12 season to an unexpected French Ligue 1 triumph.

He was a French International and at the time of signing he seemed a real coup for the club. Unfortunately, so far he hasn’t reached his full potential.

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He struggled adapting to the league in his first few months, the 6-0 hammering by Liverpool in particularly was a low point, he looked totally lost and shellshocked alongside Steven Taylor that day. At the end of the season he filled in at LB and did a good defensive job in the games that kept us up.

Opportunity arose for Yanga with Coloccini picking up an injury at the beginning of last season, excelling  in two of our best wins of last season at home to Chelsea and away to Spurs. He kept his place until Colo was fit, and despite the signs that a good partnership was blossoming between Yanga and Mike Williamson, Colo was put straight back into the first team.

He got more game time at RB later in the season, but even his biggest fan couldn’t argue that he has the right instincts for a full-back and even though he can have reasonably solid games at LB/RB, as he did at the end of the 2012/2013, eventually he will be caught out, plus he drifts inside and the attacking side of his game isn’t good enough.

The constant playing out of position appears to have affected his confidence but in my opinion given a run of games at centre half I believe that he can get it back and he isn’t a lost cause ….yet.

From what I’ve seen of him on TV when in the French league, and since he has arrived at Newcastle, the way he plays reminds me of a young Rio Ferdinand. Some may say that’s a lofty comparison for someone who hasn’t done much in the Premier League, but I see the same good and bad points in both players.

Yanga is a ball playing centre half with good instincts and pace, similar to Rio, Yanga struggles with the physical side of the game, especially in the form of players with direct pace and good physical strength, when Rio was younger he struggled with this a lot too (as do most centre halves). However, as he got older and more experienced, he adapted his game to deal with it as best he could and develop into one of the best centre halves in the world, I honestly believe Yanga has it in him to reach that level.

Regardless of whether he reaches those heights, our other options at centre half indicate that he should be our main man at the back…

Coloccini has been brilliant for us at times and even though he is still decent, personally I believe his star is on the wane. Towards the end of last season those at SJP would have noticed the increase in the mistakes in his game, a lot of the time he was the weak link in our porous defence.

Also, there are still concerns with some fans when it comes to how much he really wants to be here. The worry at any point he may hop off back to Argentina again and leave us in the lurch, add his age to the mix and in my view he shouldn’t be the man we are forming our defence around.

Some are of the view that Colo and Yanga can play together, but I think both are too similar and need a ‘big man’ alongside to get the best out of them, so it’s one or the other for me.

I’d like to see us bring in a that big man of superior quality to play with Yanga, because as much as ‘Geordies love Mike Williamson more than he will know’, he is still a limited player making the best of his ability. If  we have any ambition he should be a back-up at best.

For years I’ve always hoped Steven Taylor would develop into that big man of superior quality but his general headless chicken behaviour on the pitch, and his stupid comments off it, have taken that hope away. I think if any of our higher paid centre halves are to be sacrificed, Taylor would be the one for me.

Overall, in my view Yanga should be our premier centre half and should be the man we build our defence around, so here’s hoping Alan Pardew breaks the habit of a lifetime and sees the untapped potential there.

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