Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s positivity!
Isn’t it refreshing?
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A steady stream of good news about Newcastle United with only that odd irrelevant snipe from what’s left of the ‘Ashley Out’ rebel forces. Who, without a shadow of doubt, contributed to almost getting the club relegated last season as they waged war from the terraces and through social media on their pantomime villain club owner, Mike Ashley.
It has to be said, Mike has made a complete pig’s ear out of most things when he has interfered with the football side of things, but few could argue against, the club is financially very strong and if ran by a more football savvy boardroom, the league could be its oyster again.
Alan Pardew, ridiculed for leaving a ‘big club’ to go to a ‘chicken shed’ in London, is enjoying a summer of pre-season training with his new squad and looks typically confident and at his peak of smugness as he watches new signing Yohan Cabaye ping the ball around from deep in the Crystal Palace midfield.
He almost had Coloccini too until the Toon’s new gaffer, McClaren, stepped in and wrapped up a new one year contract extension for the 33 year old veteran.
But whilst Pardew may be showing all the signs of a man who has just taken over at Real Madrid, in his gut, he will be as sick as the proverbial as he watches McClaren land some of Europe’s most sought after young talent . With his old club flashing cash to go with Mike Ashley’s live TV claim that Newcastle United are ready to ‘Strap the horses to the Cart.
It seems Ashley is true to his word though, with nearly £40m spent on European hotshots Aleksandar Mitrovic, Chancel Mbemba and Gini Wilnaldum already and whispers of more to come! He promised horses, and horses are coming, in a brand new Donkey Free Zone approach.
On paper this Newcastle United squad is taking shape and looks very strong. Mike Williamson is still at the club, but with Lascalles, Taylor, Mbemba, Dummett and Satka all competing to play alongside team captain, Coloccini, the chance of ‘Iron Mike’ getting anywhere near the first team must be slim.
Any further defenders would surely hinder the progress of Lascalles, Satka and Dummett, so fans may well have to wait till at least January to see any more new faces on that part of the pitch.
In midfield McClaren should be embarrassed by his options.
Tiote, Sissoko, Colback, Anita and Kemen will fight for the two central positions whilst Cabella, Aarons, Ayoze Perez, Gouffran and Obertan will each be vying for a shirt on each side of either Siem De Jong or new signing, Wijnaldum. Not bad for a team supposedly lacking in options it has to be said!
Whilst there is still talk of Charlie Austin possibly arriving at the club, this would surely only happen if last season’s top scorer, Pappis Cisse, left the club. Austin is a big, strong, barnstorming centre forward, which is exactly the kind of player the club have just signed in Aleksandar Mitrovic.
So with both at the club, one would have to be happy to sit on a black and white leather Recaro most weeks and McClaren hasn’t just chucked £12.5m on a new super-sub.
With De Jong, Cisse, Mitrovic, Riviere and Ayoze all capable of playing a lone frontman role, there would be little point adding another option just yet. Riviere may have struggled last season but he does have all the attributes to come good and whilst failing to hit the net for most of the campaign, his hold up and build up play at times was excellent. With the right coaching, the pacey Frenchman may well turn out to be this season’s wildcard.
There is one position though that definitely needs addressing! At right full-back Newcastle have one of the best players in Europe in Netherlands international, Daryl Janmaat.
One of very few positives from last season was the Dutchman’s contribution on a weekly basis.
Arriving to replace crowd favourite Mathieu Debuchy, Janmaat quickly erased the pain for fans with a seamless transition to the Premier League and fast becoming one of the best in the division. But across the park, young Massadio Haidara has yet to make his mark.
Injuries and suspensions played a part but despite the obvious potential, the young Frenchman has shown a tendency to make rash decisions, either by hacking down his opponent or by being too far up the pitch when the ball is lost.
Haidara is a big, powerful and quick young player and with a bit more experience looks sure to shine but he is the one player in the team who could do with a more experienced player to compete with for at least one season.
That player could well be Ashley Cole and if McClaren isn’t looking at Cole, he probably should be as the former England full-back would be the ideal mentor for Haidara at this stage in his development. Cole is 34 and believed to want a return to English football. It would certainly make sense for Newcastle to consider it.
Lascalles, Mbemba, Coloccini, Taylor, Satka, Dummett, Williamson, Janmaat, Haidara, Cole (?)
Anita, Tiote, Colback, Kemen
Cabella, Aarons, Gouffran, Obertan
Wijnaldum, De Jong, Sissoko
Cisse, Mitrovic, Riviere, Perez
Twenty seven players in the above squad which already needs to be trimmed down. With possible loan moves for Satka and Kemen, and Mike Williamson surely on his way out, the remaining 24 players (should another left-back arrive) are certainly capable of a top ten finish in the Premier League.
McClaren is very well-respected for his ability to get his teams playing good football and with this squad, there is an excellent blend of experience, leadership, pace and power. The horses are bolted on but only time will tell if Steve McClaren is the right man to steer them to success.
With the likes of Mitrovic, De Jong, Wijnaldum, Sissoko, Aarons, Perez and Cisse upfront, there is no excuse for failure now. Credit has to go where credit is due and for all his previous calamities, Mike Ashley has shown he is as good as his word.
It’s now time for the remaining Ashley Out loyalists to get off his back and start concentrating on supporting the team on the pitch. With 52,000 fans in a positive mood, not many teams would come away with points from St James Park!
Howay The Lads!
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