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If you put an infinite number of monkeys in a room…

5 years ago

Dear Messrs Ashley, Charnley and Carr,

After your recent cack-handed efforts at conducting transfer window business, you can hardly blame us for having expected another comical display of ineptitude this time around.

At the moment, however, it almost looks as if somebody there might know what they’re doing.

But this is NUFC and we know that if it can go wrong, it probably will.

We also know the philosophical proposition that if you put an infinite number of blind monkeys in a room, with an infinite number of typewriters, for an infinite period of time, eventually one of them is going to come up with the Complete Works of Shakespeare

The point being that if you take a group of people who have no idea what they are doing, and give them enough chances, they’re likely to come up with something good eventually.

So just in case your efforts this time round are more a result of luck than judgement, here are some simple principles which might help.

First, you need a decent manager/head coach and a decent coaching staff. Now, things haven’t been too good on that front in recent years. And for the last half of last season….well, you would have been better off picking some punter out of the Strawberry an hour before kick-off and asking him to pick the team and give a full tactical briefing.

But the bunch you’ve appointed this time – well, I’m optimistic about them – I think they look all right. I know a lot of people didn’t fancy McClaren, mainly because he came across as a bit of a pillock when he was England manager. But, hey – Bobby Robson and Our Kev both got pilloried when they were England manager, so I’m not going to hold that against him.

Second, you need to have at least two good players for every position. It’s no good having eleven ‘purples’ if the rest of the squad are complete divots. We’re know we’re not rolling in petro-dollars like Chelsea or Man City, so we can’t just stockpile umpteen players on the off-chance that we might use them one day. But players do get injured. And Newcastle players get injured a lot. So, at least two players for every position.

Third, those two players for every position shouldn’t include untried youngsters, or any of the group of players at the club who we all know aren’t good enough.

Now, we all have our likes and dislikes when it comes to players.

Some people don’t rate Cisse, some do.

Some don’t rate Coloccini or Tiote any more, some do.

Some don’t rate Dummett or Steven Taylor, and some do.

But (to the best of my knowledge) nobody rates Williamson, Anita, Gouffran, Obertan or Riviere.  We all know they aren’t good enough for a decent Premiership team.

But we’re probably lumbered with them. You hear people say we should just get rid of someone like Williamson. But that’s like saying we should just get rid of nuclear waste – it’s easier said than done, because nobody else with their head screwed on is going to want it.

So we may be stuck with them – but really it would be best for everyone if they were given something else to do around the place. I don’t know, a bit of painting and decorating around the ground, or maybe they could help with the catering.

But just something to keep them away from the football pitch would probably be best.

So, there you are – a decent coach, and two good players for every position.

Where does that leave us now?

Well we’re probably alright in goal – Krul and Darlow/Elliot(?).

In defence we look alright at left back – Haidara and Dummett. But we’ve got a potential problem at right back – what happens if Janmaat gets injured for 6 months? Who covers for him?

At centre-back, we’ve got Coloccini, Taylor, Mbemba and Dummett. I won’t count Lascelles because he’s an untried youngster – if he comes good it’s a bonus but we shouldn’t be relying on him. Now that’s 4 players for 2 positions, which on the face of it looks ok. But Steven Taylor tends to get injured a lot; and Dummett might be covering for left-back. So we’re potentially a bit light there.

Midfield – now it gets a bit complicated if you start thinking about how many defensive mids/left-sided/right-sided, etc. So to keep it nice and simple – let’s assume 4-4-2, or something like it most of the time. So we want 8 good midfield players.

Leaving aside the undisputed duffers, what have we got? Colback, Tiote, Abeid, Sissoko, Wijnaldum, Cabella, de Jong – that’s 7. Aarons might still be an unproven youngster – but in my book he’s a good enough prospect to count as the 8th midfielder.

Forwards – let’s assume two spots. We’ve got – Cisse, Perez, Mitrovic. De Jong might be a 4th – I haven’t seen enough of him to know what his best position might be in the Premiership, but let’s say he’s an attacking midfield player. So we’re still 1 good striker short (especially given Cisse’s injury problems).

It’s quite possible that the new coaching team will see something in one or two fringe players and bring them back into the mainstream.

So, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that we might see someone like Bigirimana or Marveaux brought back into the fold. But failing that, my idiot’s guide to recruitment suggests that we’re still short of:

  • Cover for Janmaat at right back
  • Cover at centre back
  • One more striker
  • Plus, of course, replacements for any good players who leave

Get that sorted out before the end of the transfer window and we may begin to believe there is intelligent life behind the scenes at St James’s Park after all.


Travis Bickle

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