At the end of last season there was almost unanimous agreement from the fans, and seemingly the owner too, that Newcastle squad needed dramatic reconstructive surgery.

Perhaps for the first time since our relegation there was a unified clamour for the removal of the deadwood and the requirement for new blood – players with effort, work rate and a desire to play for the football club.

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Back in 2009 it was the inflated salaries of fading stars no longer deserving their reputation which needed clearing out, with players like Owen, Martins, Viduka and Duff being the poster boys for the wanton waste with which Newcastle United had become synonymous.

Now though we face a very different issue, now we have a glut of players who we will struggle to move on/out due to their ability, wages and the absolute fact that without them we would not have a squad.

Through various articles and comments, I have read people expressing how players should be thrown out, moved on, or given a taxi to the airport.

From the obvious targets such as Williamson, Gouffran and Obertan to former favourites whose stock has dropped like Captain Colo, Tiote and even Papiss Cisse.

Well, unfortunately that simply is not going to happen, remember last season when we struggled to field a team of players in the positions that they are meant to play? Well since then we have lost five players from that squad and bought in only two (hopefully soon to be three).

The reality is that reconstructive surgery has not happened, what has happened is that a couple of very expensive sticking plasters have been bought in to try and cover the gaping wounds.

Not that I am complaining about the quality of the signings, far from it, I’m not even joining the majority and expecting three or four more signings (unrealistic?), what I am saying is that anyone still expecting major change in the playing staff should prepare for disappointment.

Ask yourself this, of the following two scenarios which is the most likely…

1)      We unload Willo, Gouff, Obertan and Colo, then we bring in replacements such as Austin, Banega, and the tricky Swiss lad, plus another top drawer defender.

2)      We keep most, if not all, of Willo, Gouff, Obertan and Colo (who have all been heavily involved in pre season with the exception of Colo), then end up selling Sissoko if the right offer comes in late in the transfer window.

Like it or not, the most likely players to leave the squad are the ones we would like to leave the least, with Sissoko the most attractive target for suitors.

It’s an obvious statement that if you took last year’s almost relegated side and gave it two extra quality, players then it would be better, but just how much better and would that be good enough?

I know that many have their doubts after seeing a pre season dominated by bright moments from Wijnaldum, De Jong and Aarons, whilst at the other end defensive errors from those charged with protecting the goalkeeper have been common place once again, and here is where the biggest change is needed.

newcastle squad

For me the defence should have been the priority at the beginning of the transfer window, arguably a central defensive partnership is the one which needs the most time to gel and learn each other game. It is the area where responsibility needs to be allocated and strengths as well as weaknesses need to be balanced.

Like most here I have never seen Mbemba play, but reports have him as an athletic and pacey defender who can also play a bit, but he is young (we think?).

The hope currently seems to be that he can slot in at the side of either Coloccini or Taylor to stiffen things up at the back, but I would argue that we will need someone at the side of him not only with Premier League experience, but with the ability to organise and hold the line in the mould of Woodgate, who can also do the dirty no-nonsense part of the job.

During pre season Willo has been Willo, Lascelles has looked like a rabbit in the headlights at times, Taylor has drifted between the sublime and the ridiculous as usual, and the captain has been socialising in Jesmond.

The club expects Chancel Mbemba to get the green light this week, but he would be just another plaster over the biggest wound in the team, if surgery is needed then it is at the back where Doctor McClaren needs to do his work.

We all know that Williamson should be nowhere near the first team, the captain has seen better days but retains good ability if not pace or physical presence, Taylor and Lascelles are big solid lads, but lack the understanding and mentality to organise a defence and Dummett is able back up at best. In short, we have the numbers but lack the quality.

There is renewed talk today of a potential move for Charlie Austin coming through the door this week, and I am a fan of the former brick layer, but given the choice of spending £15m on Austin or on a top quality centre half, I would invest in the defence.

At the other end of the team we have enough in Mitrovic, Cisse, Perez and De Jong to be competitive if the supply line through Aarons and Wijnaldum improves on last season’s dreadful lack of creativity, and how could it not?

Therefore if we really have to apply big, expensive sticking plasters then we should be putting them in the right place if we really expect the team to heal.

Currently it still looks as though our longest inflicted wound could still be the one which kills us in the Premier League next season.

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  • Toonbadger

    Amputation of the CB`s is all we want and new ones in

  • murvar

    Why is everything on here so bloody NEGATIVE!!??

  • keeganRescueUs

    As soon as I saw the title of this article I knew exactly who the author was. Typical miserable outlook of a seriously depressing bloke

  • v0ices

    Todays news of Aarons walking out on contract talks adds even more bloodloss.

  • 1957

    Have to agree with other posters, the title of your articles are a dead giveaway to the author.
    Oddly in among the negatives there are unusually some good points. We do need to prioritise defenders over Austin, we have enough in midfield and attack to compete if we defend better. If fact at £15m you could get a good CB and a versitile ful back who could cover both flanks.
    Dramatic reconstructive surgery was/is never going to happen, it’s a huge risk to change the team enmass. To use your analogy if you are in a dire medical condition, you often have a operation to stabilise (sticking plaster) before several others to complete the job. McClaren has talked about 2 or 3 transfer windows to make us really competitive, I think he is right.

  • Jievo

    There was unanimous agreement that we needed reconstructive surgery ***amongst the people you socialise with***. This website has become an echo chamber where pessimism and fury are allowed to grow beyond all control. We roundly blamed Pardew and Carver for YEARS, for failing to extract the clear talent in the squad, for “pardewing” players and for being tactically obtuse. The moment we get a coach you have no ammunition against, you turn your guns on the very players who you accused pardew of misusing. There is a great deal of deadwood in this team, but most of the poor players are actually good characters and there’s no rush to get them out of the club at all costs and immediately. We need to keep building with the quality we’ve seen come in the past 2 summers and replace the poor squad players with more serviceable lads as and when they leave, and give McClaren a chance to build a better attitude and atmosphere, to get more out of the likes of Sissoko, Cabella, Anita and Haidara who could all be building blocks in a perfectly decent premier league team. Stop, breath, wait til the end of the transfer window and see who starts in our first few matches – by game 4 or 5 we should have a better idea of where this club is at, right now we’re all guessing. I don’t like Ashley and he has a long, long, LONG way to go to win me around, but I’m quite willing to back McClaren and the lads in black and white for now.

  • LeazesEnder

    Excellent summary!

  • Artie Fufkin

    1957 The transfer market rarely operates in a perfectly chronographed order, The central defence problem has been there all window, as has the striker situation. we’ve chased two strikers, got one and now the other seems keen to come too. The centre half situation has been semi-sorted, my hunch would be that another dominant type will come in but in that case Collo is off and I think Willo will go too. 

    We could go for full-back cover but who is coming just to cover our full-back positions and sit on the bench? If we get a left back in (let say the return of Enrique) he wants to play, so Haidarra will be out and if I’m Hadarra who looks fit on in form, I’d not be looking to stay on the bench.

  • LeazesEnder

    murvar It’s an antidote to delusion.

  • v0ices

    Artie Fufkin 1957 Haidara has shown nothing that suggests he should have the starting spot at left back he looks less of a player now than he did before the horror tackle.

  • Artie Fufkin

    Lascelles has looked like a rabbit headlights? when? I don;t claim to have seen it live but he looked sure-footed in the friendly on the states.

  • Artie Fufkin

    v0ices Artie Fufkin 1957 he was good yesterday and good in the US game where he got the laughable red card. Our defence was better last season with him fit but that is the key, his quality is there.

  • v0ices

    Artie Fufkin v0ices 1957 not exactly premier league opposition but time will tell.

  • Atech

    Jievo

  • Artie Fufkin

    v0ices Artie Fufkin 1957 Time will tell but he looks like he’s moving better than last time. 

    I just think replacing him now will be a mistake, he’s first choice at the moment, bring someone else in, they may not be any better and he’ll not hang about if on the bench.

  • NottsToon

    Yes, I realise that pragmatic realism is no longer popular now that “cautious optimism” are bywords of the day. Nevertheless, this an opinion piece and I believe it to be far more realistic than thinking some grand change is occurring.

  • 1957

    My major concern is cover for the right back slot rather than left back. If Janmaat picks up an injury we are stuffed, so IMO getting a player in who could cover both sides would be an advantage.

  • Andgeo

    Jievo, do you think we need two new centre halfs or would you be happy going into the season with williamson and tails at the back?
    Notts was fair to assume that most toon supporters think out defence is weak as [email protected]@ in MHO!

  • 1957

    I read somewhere recently, during some research, that people who are overly pragmatic can be prone to cynicism and can become overly negative with their views.

  • NottsToon

    I read somewhere that people looking for change in something which hasn’t changed in years can become “cautiously optimistic” at the drop of a hat.
    Strange what you read isn’t it?

  • Jievo

    Andgeo I would be *reasonably* happy starting the season with Mbemba added. Some combination of Colo, Mbemba, Dummett (first choice alongside Mbemba for me), with Taylor and Lascelles able to rotate in and cover as needed, would seem manageable for lower mid table, maybe a little higher if the attack really shines and Krul gets back to his best. But yes, I would absolutely like to see one more big signing at centre half this summer, or at least a REALLY promising youngster, it’s by far our most shaky position and god knows why we went for Wijnaldum (not that I’m complaining) before picking up a defender or 2.

    I disagree that the entire team needs replaced. I very much agree that we look rubbish at centre half and in an ideal world you’d only keep Lascelles and Dummett of the current bunch and replace the rest with quality, but in the real world Colo and Saylor (as long as he’s fit) can do a job for the time being. There seems to be no room for shades between black and white online these days – I disagree with this article, but that doesn’t mean I like Ashley, that I think our team is good enough or that I think we’re going to be anywhere near the top 6 next year. Comfortable mid table with room to grow and improved form all around has to be the aim this year, any higher is a bonus, All we can do is wait, see and hope for a 4th transfer.

  • NottsToon

    I’m actually quite genial and good company. I just have an aversion to embracing an entity which has repeatedly taken so many people for a [email protected] for so long.

  • NottsToon

    Artie Fufkin Lascelles looked passable at best against mediocre opposition and was guilty of more than one “fresh air” challenge.
    Lascelles is currently another Bramble or David James, all the physical attributes without a football brain. I have watched his career quite a lot.

  • NottsToon

    1957 The problem being that realism is not the current order of the day. If we do well next season I’ll still be here and be happy to be proved wrong, I’d love to see an entertaining and successful side on the pitch.

    Whereas if we don’t do well you will flip flop back to your old thinking like a Tory politician come election time, and the sudden abundance of new “cautiously optimistic” posters will vanish just like they were nowhere to be seen last season.

  • Ollie Burtons Grandad

    All fair comment Notts, especially as it’s looking like Fatmans horse has become a Pony.
    If our defence is not improved drastically then it’s going to be another long bloody season; one would have hoped that our pre season games would have demonstrated the dire need for 2 if not 3 new defenders.
    One does wonder why the Wongamen take such a belligerent attitude when someone points out Fatmans shortcomings. After all it was his interview that gave rise to the tide of optimism. Idols with feet of clay and bellies full of shite I expect.

  • Artie Fufkin

    NottsToon Artie Fufkin I’m sure you know more of him at Forest than myself. He’s not kicked on since being ‘the new Des Walker’ and in a way, suffered from the “lend back” aspect of our purchase of him, Forest know they are losing him so concentrate on other players. Pearce clearly decided he wasn’t going to get played too much. 

    He’s got a lot to prove, a lad who would learn alongside influential defenders (yes, perhaps he needs a Woodgate but there are not many Woodgates in the world!)

    But, he did look passable, I missed the air challenge you refer to but we’ll have to see.

  • Artie Fufkin

    1957 But again, who comes in to sit on NUFC’s bench, why not put a kid in?

  • 1957

    NottsToon Mine came from Michael on Attitudes by Shepherd Hoodwin,

    If you really are pragmatic you really are deep in the negative side of it. You have found a formula for this site that you believe works, stick to it and are thereby stuck in a rut despite in your own words now being in a minority. True pragmatists are flexible depending on changing situations.

    This really is a shame because as I said in my earlier post you made some good points in the piece, balanced and constructive.

    Your source of reference was…lets think, The NottsToon Book of Responses to People who Disagree with me. If it came from somewhere different let me know I might be able to use it.

  • 1957

    Artie Fufkin 1957 Have we got one, my limited attendance at U21 games would suggest not at the moment

  • 1957

    NottsToon 1957 If we dont do well I will still be turning up to matches accepting it hasn’t worked and  I was wrong.

  • NottsToon

    Still, at least you still have your sense of humour right?

  • 1957

    Yeah, I did have a brief smile when I typed the bit about you making good constructive and balanced points.
    Keep it up you don’t have to be in the majority to make valid points

  • NottsToon

    I’m glad you disagree that the whole team needs replacing, because I never actually said that’s what I believe either. I was clearly referring to the impassioned thoughts of supporters at the end of a terrible season.
    Your posts have argued against points not made in the article. Why is that?

  • NottsToon

    I actually entitled it simply “sticking plasters”, Mark exercised editorial control with the rest, so…..wrong, sorry.

  • Chemical Dave

    I like Notts, he’s probably the only bloke on here who makes me look optimistic. THat said, he does have history to back up his gloomy outlook. Me ? Well I’ve a feeling the next F up is in the pipeline but I’m willing to be pleasantly surprised.

  • Chemical Dave

    1957 NottsToon 
    I’ve bypassed the pragmatic bit and headed straight for the negative, why piss about ?

  • NottsToon

    Not gloomy, pragmatic ;-)