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The science of assembling a winning football team

7 years ago

Assembling a winning football team is a science, an experiment in execution with many variables – not all of which are under the control of the football club.

Aside from the obvious things like playing staff, coaches and training, there are such uncontrollable elements as injuries, form, opposition strength and good old luck.

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There is little point in worrying about things which the club cannot control, so let’s have a look at some of the things it can and see how we are doing…

Playing Staff

This is not one of those articles about a personal opinion on who is and who isn’t good enough to play for the team, nevertheless here is my personal opinion on who is good enough to play for the team/get a place in the squad from the current staff.

Some are obvious, some deserve a chance.


Krul, Darlow, Woodman


Janmaat, Haidara, Dummet, Lascelles, Taylor


Colback, Sissoko, Wijnaldum, Tiote, Aarons, Anita, Cabella, Abeid,


Cisse, Perez, De Jong, Mitrovic

That is only 20 players from a possible 25 man squad, undoubtedly some/all of Colo, Goufran, Willo and Obertan will become part of the actual squad, maybe a couple of youngsters too, but it is glaringly obvious where reinforcements are required.

There is no point in labouring that discussion further. In terms of numbers, I think the very least we can get away with is 2 new defenders and preferably  another striker.

To achieve what Mike Ashley says he wants (top 8), we need 2 defenders, 2 strikers (1 now that Mitrovic has signed), 1 left winger, 1 versatile defensive player who can operate across the back four as well as midfield.

Current news has us now signing one of those strikers earlier today (Mitrovic) and potentially a defender (Mbemba) from Anderlecht, which reduces our minimum requirement to a single defender, or to a striker, a defender a winger and a utility man to achieve the owner’s alleged aims for the season.


We have a new head coach, new first team coaches and a new motivator. They have divided opinion but they are what we have, so they will get the chance to show what they can do with the squad, and I expect it to be all change in terms of style.

I do expect us to compete more in matches, to work at retaining the ball and for our passing to be shorter, neater and more incisive.

I think the appointment of Ian Cathro (Pictured below on the right) could be astute as he seems to have some very different ideas about working with players, I know he is a fan of using Futsal skills to improve close control and decision making, this can only be a positive.

I said from the beginning that to be successful the new coaching team will have to strip out all the old methods and start from scratch, change literally everything.

To be fair to them, from the noises coming out of the club, they do seem to be doing exactly that. We won’t find out how well that has been done until next season.


Flying to the USA for a pre season tour is never ideal, Steve McClaren said so himself.

I believe that this summer it has been slightly more stupid than normal due to the need for the squad to get to know the new coaches, and for incoming signings to be able to meet the coaches,, obviously this hasn’t happened.

Coming back from the States we have three more friendly matches before the season start, and these games will have to be enough to bed in not only the new players, plus also to instil a playing philosophy onto the squad. It all seems a little rushed to me but all we can do is hope for the best.


A lack of motivation is something which even the happiest clapper accused the team of at times last season, they went through the motions for just about the entire second half of the season without putting in a real shift until the last day. To counter balance that there have been several changes this year.

–          The manager and coaches have been heavily incentivised through their contracts to achieve pre agreed goals (top 8?).

–          New signings have also reportedly been given similar deals to boost their earnings.

–          If the above is true you can bet that the rest of the squad have been given a bit of financial motivation too.

–          Steve Black (Pictured below) has been brought in to provide some pep to last season’s lacklustre players.

I can admit that this all sounds very positive and I am sure that the new players will be highly motivated considering their weekly involvement in the world’s largest shop window, under the watching eye of some of the world’s richest football clubs.


Newcastle’s tactics under the last two managers have been dreadful, plenty of hoof ball and square pegs in round holes. Only a coach like Carver would see the merit in playing a badly out of form midfielder in a full-back position whilst keeping a full-back on the bench.

Encouragingly, McClaren is highly regarded as a coach, and after watching the two games in the US there does seem to be the beginnings of a change underway.

The central defenders split when the keeper is in possession and the ball is received by the player at the base of the midfield, there is a definite urgency in moving the ball across the ground at speed and with forward momentum.

To be honest, it looked messy at times but if it progresses and the players can properly grasp it, then it will be a huge improvement in the eyes of supporters if nothing else.

So there are encouraging signs in terms of how the team will fare next season, I genuinely have no idea.

There is a huge amount of work to do in restoring confidence to some players and a possibly insurmountable task in bringing the majority of supporters back into the fold after years of apathy, ignorance and downright lies, but football is a funny old game and a few good results can work wonders on the mindset of the masses.

Personally, I will never forgive this regime for some of the atrocities they have visited upon the name of Newcastle United, the lack of respect shown to club heroes and heritage and their treatment of genuine supporters, but maybe I will find myself in the minority if things go well.

Football supporters, not just those of Newcastle United, are a fickle bunch and humans by nature would rather celebrate than commiserate, so if the pieces fall into place then maybe public opinion might change.

Mine won’t (with regard to Ashley) but I still celebrate victories as much as anyone else, rare as they have become.


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