Earlier in the week, an article on The Mag discussed the limitations of Vurnon Anita and particularly Jack Colback, calling for investment in a new centre midfielder. I argue that this is not the case and that Jack Colback still has an important role to play at Newcastle United.
Colback excelled in his first season for a failing Newcastle side, arguably our player of the season, with Daryl Janmaat probably edging him for top spot.
He shook off the initial monkey on his back, showing that he was good enough, despite questions from fans following his controversial move from rivals Sunderland. Having shone last season, McClaren’s new signings have highlighted Jack Colback’s shortcomings and raised questions about his place in the team.
It’s clear that Colback does not have the attacking quality that new man Gini Wijnaldum does when in possession of the ball, but there are two sides to the game. Could Wijnaldum do the defensive work that Colback does? Probably not.
To allow our attacking players to flourish, there must be a balance in midfield.
With teams more and more willingly playing a ‘number ten’ rather than two strikers, the role of the defensive midfielder has increased. Colback’s endeavour in front of the defence is just as important as Wijnaldum’s passing range and ability to penetrate the opposition.
Considering McClaren’s style of football, Colback should prove to be a very important and pivotal player once again. Colback may not be the most adventurous passer of a football, but one of his biggest assets is his retention of possession. His passes are rarely killer, but not every pass can split a defence.
If this Newcastle team was competing for Champions League football, then Colback would not be good enough, but the fact is we’re on the back of nearly being relegated.
Since the Premier League began, Newcastle have only had ten top half finishes. I have heard many say ‘in an ideal world, Colback would only be a squad player’. These aren’t the days of Kevin Keegan where we were challenging for the title, these are the days of Steve McClaren, who is trying to fix a broken club who narrowly avoided dropping to the second tier of football for the second time since being relegated in 2009.
Four games into the new season and we are yet to set the world alight.
Having failed to pick up a win, there are still signs of promise being shown by the team, and that team must include Jack Colback for the time being.
You can follow James on Twitter @jrutherford11
(To feature like James, send in your articles for our website to [email protected] – all views those of the author etc etc)