Why bother with pre season?
Like any other summer the transfer window dominates our thoughts, which players might be arriving/departing.
This one has been no different for Newcastle fans, with the only possible difference the fact that the club no longer has any players who other clubs are desperate to get their hands on.
The closest was/is probably Moussa Sissoko and with speculation surrounding him, France’s Manager Didier Deschamps warned the Newcastle midfielder earlier this summer, that moving to a Champions League club and not getting regular football, would cost him his place when it comes to France hosting the 2016 Euros.
When it came to incoming transfers, the arrivals of Wijnaldum, Mitrovic and Mbemba were all received with general positivity.
However, there was much debate about the timing of the transfers, as some supporters expressed concern about the readiness for the new season, whilst others said ‘what’s the problem’ and the transfer window doesn’t close until September 1.
I think the first two matches have shown just what a problem it is when new players don’t get a pre season with their new teammates, especially when trading up from a weaker league and adapting to living in a new country.
On the opening day of the season, Chancel Mbemba was thrown in on debut after only 28 minutes of play with his teammates in pre season friendlies. To make it even worse, he was paired with Coloccini who, for whatever reason, hadn’t played at all in the friendlies.
Georginio Wijnaldum at least had a little bit of pre season preparation with his new team, making his debut in a friendly (v Sacramento) three weeks before the Premier League started.
Though Steve McClaren has still referred in interviews to all three of his signings, including Wijnaldum, having all too brief time to integrate.
With Mitrovic, his only start in the friendlies was in a second eleven team that played York City. So it would have been sheer madness to have put him straight in after there had been no preparation for the team as a whole in how to focus their play around a new centre-forward.
The big difference of course being that unlike the defence where Steve McClaren felt he had no option but to put Mbemba straight in, due to the only options being Taylor and/or Williamson. At least up front Papiss Cisse was still here and though you never are quite sure what you will get with him, he is a proven Premier League goalscorer.
I think that in these two matches against Swansea and Southampton, we have got as much as could reasonably be expected out of the three new signings.
Mbemba has done ok in both games, Wijnaldum had a decent game against the Saints and scored a cracking goal, whilst Mitrovic has just been a…cracker.
It is their teammates that have been the letdown, many of them showing the same weaknesses from last season, particularly Coloccini and Haidara in defence.
The three new signings can I believe help produce a better team and indeed bring more out of the other players, but it will take time, realistically you are looking at a couple of months before we have a chance of seeing something close to their potential.
If the three signings had arrived in time for pre season training and the full schedule of seven friendlies, they and the team would be far further down this track.
Why the transfers took so long is open to debate but if they had been pushed through quicker then the benefits are obvious.
Clearly we are desperate for at least another couple of signings but once again, even if they come in this week we are looking at a month or two before they could get up to speed with the Newcastle team.
This of course is with the assumption that signings will be as ever from abroad, if say Charlie Austin or another Premier League experienced player was signed, then you have far more chance of successfully fast-tracking them into the Newcastle team.
Kevin Keegan was a master at forward planning and brought in players mid-season in preparation for the next, with the likes of Sellars, Cole, Fox and Peacock all arriving and integrating.
All four players benefiting from the long lead-up time to the next season.
Back to the present day and Newcastle are once again playing catch-up, players having to hit the ground running as Steve McClaren has little option but to include his new signings.
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