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.

Goalkeeper

Krul, Darlow, Woodman

Defence

Janmaat, Haidara, Dummet, Lascelles, Taylor

Midfield

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

football team

Forward

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.

Coaches

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.

football team

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.

Preparation

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.

Motivation

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.

football team

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.

Tactics

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.



  • Andgeo

    So we still need to sign 2 centre halfs then!

  • desree

    If you can ‘t forgive Ashley can you at least forget. you start of saying this is not an opinion piece and then give us your opinion. seriously getting fed up with the anti ashley mob. Can you save it for when we sell top players – not buy them please.

  • NottsToon

    desree I see humour is completely lost on you, either that or comprehension is not a strength of yours.

  • NottsToon

    desree And if you can really forget the last 8 years then you truly deserved them.

  • desree

    Misery loves company

  • 1957

    Unless I have misunderstood your article there appears to be a softening of your position on McClaren now he is starting to have an influence on the club. In June around the time of his appointment you described him as “…a joke of a coach…” he clearly isn’t.
    He and the coaching team he has put together are a marked improvement on the previous incumbents and given the tools to do the job in terms of players (initial signs are good) in my opinion, and that’s all we can have at the moment an opinion, we’ll do ok.

  • desree

    thats because there is political motivation in the opinion pieces. I’m sick of being told by the Ashley Out evangelists how I should think or feel about the club owners and management team. Criticism has been well justified in the past. Now we can see that the club has changed direction yet still it goes on.
    The moment Pardew left they went from Pardew out to Ashley out. If we do win a cup who will the mob turn on then.
    I am no fan of Mike Ashley and a lot of his decisions are shocking. Charnley is a muppet but he has signed some good potentially great players. I’m not convinced by Mclaren but I am encouraged by the approach and believe he is trying to do the right thing.
    There is always an element of the fan base that has to spoil it for everyone else. we had violence and pitch invasions in the 80’s, then we had idiots who refused to sit down now we have the ‘resistance’ movement.
    I am a fan, not a fanatic. If people want to attack my character, intelligence or integrity to potentially millions of people, it says more about who they are as a person than it does me.

  • amacdee

    I agree with Notts. As it stands if you looked at NUFC’s squad now, as an outsider, you’d put them above the three promoted teams and possibly Leicester, Mackems, Villa, West Brom and maybe Palace. 

    However in terms of getting results as well as the content of the squad we are below Stoke, West Ham, Everton, Swansea and Southampton and way way behind the likes of Liverpool, Spuds and the top four. 

    If you want to play in the Premier league club year on year you cannot afford to stand still. These three signings wont make a summer but it’s a start. However if Fatman thinks thats enough and takes his ball home with him then the whole vicious cycle starts again.

  • amacdee

    desree “The
    moment Pardew left they went from Pardew out to Ashley out”
    1.Just so the rest of us know. you’d be happy with Pardwho if he was still here ?
    2. Equally happy if the “Ashley out” movement hadnt taken place ?
    3. Despite the “shocking” decisions by Fatman, by and large you’re OK with them ?

  • desree

    amacdee desree

    1. No – Doesn’t mean to say I condone the level of abuse the bloke was given

    2. No – I think that fans not turning up for the spurs game finally got Ashley to take notice – far more than the abuse fans have hurled at the bloke for 7 years

    3. No – I still shake my head in disbelief at Dennis wise, tony Jiminez and JFK (twice). I also shake my head that in 2012 we bought Vurnon Anita and lost Ba.

    That doesn’t mean that I will spend the rest of my life dwelling on it. Even if we won the premiere league there would still be fanatics whining about something.

  • desree

    Fans unfurled a banner saying ‘we don’t demand a team that wins, we demand a club that try’

  • DownUnderMag

    The two new signings would be great additions to an already competent squad. If we had been adding this calibre of player every window then that is what we would have.  Sadly due to the penny pinching we are well below where we need to be just to be competitive and two players in, no matter their quality, won’t be an instant fix.
    One big thing that needs addressing though is the injuries.  Maybe we get injury prone players because they are cheap…but the constant injury crisis season on season has to raise alarm bells that something isn’t being done properly.  
    I point the finger of blame firmly at the style of training, where I feel too much emphasis is put onto being strong and physical rather than just letting players strength develop naturally over time…I suspect Ferguson is a prime example of this (he looked promising when he played but then clearly focused too much on the gym and became injury prone and suffered lack of progress as a result).  Ben Arfa seemed to get too stocky when here and lost agility and speed accordingly.  I think the club need to realise that not all players need to be powerhouses and that sometimes the younger kids coming through will naturally fill out over time.
    If you do too many weights too quickly, then you become slower, you become less flexible. Most gym people will tell you this.  But I also question methods of training to induce so many muscle pulls and knee injuries.  Something needs to be looked at and I for one would be putting more effort into this area than anywhere else as what good is a new player or a good youth academy or recruitment if we never get the benefit because they are always injured?

  • NottsToon

    I’m still dying to know why, up until about 4 weeks ago, none of these suddenly positive posters existed on The Mag. Why did you leave your brother Wor Monga to be the solitary voice for the club?

    It appears that the comments sections are suddenly dominated by 4 or 5 posters who didn’t exist up until a few weeks ago, and who mysteriously all “sing from the same hymn sheet”.

  • NottsToon

    1957 I regard the appointment of a failed lower league manager (his most recent appointment), who by his own admission had turned it down a couple times already as a poor decision by the club.

    I can admit that he has actually impressed me with the way he has conducted himself so far, a vast improvement of the mouth frothing of Carver or the egocentric and delusional Pardew.

    As stated above he does also seem to be implementing a new style of football, which is more than welcome.

    Having said all that, we should have gone for better but it is what it is, and I hope to be proved wrong.

  • NottsToon

    desree How the f**k is anything written on a football forum “politically motivated”? That is blatantly ridiculous, they are opinion pieces from a single fan.

  • desree

    You are quite aggressive notts toon.

  • Andgeo

    It’s not rocket science. We need 2 centre halfs and a fcuking left back. If we signed 3 players in these positions of the calibre of Janmaat and Wijnaldum then we would need to be taken seriously. As things stand 3 of our 4 first choice back four are not premiership standard, and the back up to that i.e. WilliMson, satka, ferguson??, etc are barely championship material. Very worrying.
    If fatso has been prepared to allow the squad to be whittled down to the bones, why would he suddenly change his tune and sign the players we really need?
    Think the summers spending is done?
    If Ashley does not allow our premier league team to start the season with a proper defence then he is not taking us seriously and needs removed.

  • NottsToon

    desree And you are passive-aggressive and patronising. See, everyone can apply labels.

  • desree

    Patronising is writing an article titled the science of assembling a winning team and then just spouting your own opinions with no science at all to back up your claims.
    What next ‘5 things we learned’
    Lee Ryder comes up with better tosh than this.

  • NottsToon

    desree They’re all opinion pieces you blithering simpleton. This is a fan site where fans voice their opinions (shock, horror). It’s not Sky News, we don’t work for the club you know. If you have come here looking for hard hitting journalism then you will be sorely disappointed, and perhaps should look elsewhere.

    Where were you last season ? Where were your insightful comments about how totally awesome everything is then?Were you one of the masses sat on their hands in the stadium creating sod all atmosphere and proudly spouting about “support the team not the regime”?

  • desree

    you don’t seem to take criticism too well notts toon.

  • desree

    and voicing an opinion is one thing, hurling abuse at someone because they disagree with you isn’t what the forum is about notts toon. You seem to have a talent for honouring yourself!

  • NottsToon

    desree You don’t really understand what criticism is either do you? Your petty snipes followed by moral indignation whilst offering nothing of substance is the stuff of the playground. 

    You have no answers or opinions just bland commentary and passive aggressive moral outrage when someone says something you don’t like. It’s extremely dull.

  • NottsToon

    desree You aren’t even disagreeing, you’re saying absolutely nothing of substance and playing the wounded soldier. I’ll ask again, where were your insightful posts last season when we were struggling? What were you doing then? What do you have to back up your (lack of) argument?

    In a very short space of time you have become one of, if not the, most pointless poster here.

  • Hez

    Agreed mate, he throws his toys out the pram and stamps his feet if anyone dares to have a different view to him. If you dare to think different to the “super fan” he does the same every time; insults you usually on the basis of intelligence or loving Ashley, asks where were you last season as if you are new and have never supported NUFC before. Now he is trying to make out people are trying to take over the board, I think he lives a sad and lonely life. If he had any intelligence at all he would discuss NUFC without these sad and depressive measures which belong in a primary school playground and not a public forum. Notice nobody else has these tantrums, I’m surprised he is allowed to contribute

  • Hez

    Says you, you can’t even discuss anything without your little tantrums, how dare you disagree with the “super fan” who has been there through thick and thin, “my dog is called Keegan and cat Shearer, you will all agree with me or I’ll abuse your views and question your loyalty”.

  • Hez

    Conspiracy, it’s Ashley, he has created accounts and is posting to try and generate season tickets, add that to your list from the other day mate

  • NottsToon

    But you don’t debate do you? None of you do, you just claim that you’re sick of negativity and we should all forget the past and move on. That isn’t a debate, that is sticking your fingers in your ears so you can’t hear the alarm bells.

  • NottsToon

    Discuss something with me then, give me your arguments why I should be more positive, tell me why the past should be ignored. Will one of you please make a point without resorting to passive aggression and moral indignation please?

  • NottsToon

    What exactly are you discussing? What is your contribution? Offer me some insight so that we can discuss rather than the wounded soldier routine which seems to be so popular these days. I await your reasoned arguments for positivity and forgiveness.

  • desree

    notts toon were you bullied at school?

  • NottsToon

    You call for reasoned debate and yet offer none. Says it all really, just a none productive gobsh1te.

  • desree

    Thanks Hez, I bet notts toon wouldn’t talk the way he does if we were sat in a pub having this discussion. Not only do I have to put up with awful football being a newcastle fan but have people I’ve never met before hurling abuse and telling me what I should think. Not even mike Ashley treats me that poorly!
    I get fed up, I went to the games from 83 to 2003 and held a season ticket 10 years. I only stopped going because i left the uk, I pay 60 quid a month and get up at 2am on a sunday to watch games live. Even the dross

  • desree

    This is reasoned debate?
    @desree They’re all opinion pieces you blithering simpleton. This is a fan site where fans voice their opinions (shock, horror). It’s not Sky News, we don’t work for the club you know. If you have come here looking for hard hitting journalism then you will be sorely disappointed, and perhaps should look elsewhere.
    Where were you last season ? Where were your insightful comments about how totally awesome everything is then?Were you one of the masses sat on their hands in the stadium creating sod all atmosphere and proudly spouting about “support the team not the regime”?

  • NottsToon

    No, that was an acceptable response to a passive aggressive, fake morally outraged comment. I see you wish to continue this cycle rather than doing what you claimed you wanted. Strange that, almost like you have no actual point to debate.

  • NottsToon

    Still waiting….
    with me then, give me your arguments why I should be more positive, tell me why the past should be ignored. Will one of you please make a point without resorting to passive aggression and moral indignation please?

  • desree

    can we discuss the science of being a total nob?

  • NottsToon

    I’ll defer to your very personal and expert testimony on that subject.

  • 1957

    So given that he is changing things within the club in terms of style of play and players are being bought, albeit not ones you would recommend, is the club not beginning to move forward. If you can accept that, there is a reason to be cautiously optimistic for the future and that is what many people posting here are expressing.
    I know from a previous conversation we’ve had, you don’t respect other people’s views, unless they are the same as yours but you bite far too easily when people disagree with your opinion. You are the only poster of opinion pieces on this site who spends time continually defending your position, don’t react just let it go. Keep your Ashley dislike to one side, don’t forget but look forward you can’t change the past.

  • NottsToon

    I defend what I believe to be right, and this comment section alone simply proves that certain posters have no interest in debate as they have no points to debate.
    Which views am I meant to respect? Those who expect us to trust a proven liar without reason or those who call the truth a negative?
    As I have made abundantly clear there are areas of the club moving forwards, it seems, but I will never forgive, forget or hold the hand of the devil again after all he has done.
    What is happening here is nothing more than window dressing to deflect blame from the owner.
    There is no debate in this comment section because nobody wants it or has the stomach for it. We are all militants just wearing different hats, 6 weeks ago I was in the majority, 2 signings later I am not, does that mean I should change my views with the crowd? Because I won’t.

  • 1957

    No don’t change your views, but don’t keep living in the past, it’s not healthy. Ask yourself why you now feel you’re in the minority. It’s not because everyone else is feckless and are easily conned, it’s because like most people in the world they didn’t need revolution they wanted evolution, and they believe there is light at the end of the tunnel.
    You often make reasonable points but they get lost in the I hate Ashley rhetoric you wrap them in.
    I’ve tried to give you what you asked for, debate, as do most people here but you jump into defensive mode far too easily and the discussions descend into rants, if you become more flexible other people will too.

  • NottsToon

    Like most others my views will soften on some club related things with good signings, and more importantly victories, this is the currency of the football fan.
    My views on the owner will never change, and no amount of debate will alter that I admit. Too much has happened and for too long.