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Possession football – Or is there a better route for Newcastle United?

6 years ago

Possession football, are we suited?

Like myself, I am sure most of you reading this will agree that there is very little entertainment, and even less success, in the long ball game we seem to default to when games are going against us.

In the past, a more direct game has been somewhat successful when we’ve had big men like Demba Ba and Andy Carroll leading the front line with an on-form Cisse or a poaching Kevin Nolan arriving late in the box.

Now however, we do not have a big man to aim for, nor do we have a powerful midfielder arriving in the box to mop up any chances and Cisse left his form back in 2012.

To my shock, Mike Ca$hley kept his word and allowed the club’s profits in the bank to be dipped into over the transfer market and we spent a very respectable £50m or so. The players brought in are very highly respected in European football with Mitrovic and Wijnaldum being the pick of the bunch.

With the appointment of Steve McClaren there has been a drastic change in the style of play within the team.

McClaren appears to be trying to get the team to play a more possession style, tiki-taka style of football, working the ball into the box rather than pumping it forward in hope.

Whilst I am all for higher quality football and less of the route one lump it, I find myself asking, do we have the squad capable of this style of football.

In short, no. I don’t think we do.

Now my ideal line up, all players being available, would look something like this:

This is what I would consider to be our strongest XI and most suited formation, debateable and I’m sure many of you will disagree with my choice, but if we can ignore that for now and consider the players.


Krul, as a goalkeeper we can ignore for now, although I don’t think he’s very good, he’s the best we’ve got and he does have the odd game where he looks a world beater.

DEFENCE: 1/4 suited

Having a look at that back four, only Coloccini and Janmaat look like they want the ball.

Colo occasionally forgets who/where he is and likes to try something flash but other than that he is quite confortable on the ball. He may be suited to McClaren’s style.

Janmaat however is only any use for bombing forward. Yes it is exciting when he bursts up the wing but his actual ability on the pall in terms of passing is relatively poor.

Mbemba and Haidara, although athletic, sadly they don’t seem to be able to control, dribble or pass a football.

MIDFIELD: 2/4 Suited

The midfield is probably our strongest area on the pitch at the moment but sadly it is again made up of strong athletes rather than strong footballers.

Sissoko again, he has his moments and it is exciting when he drives at a defence and it can create chances. However, he is a terrible footballer. He can’t see a pass, and when he does he does not have the ability to make the pass.

Wijnaldum does look like a good box to box midfielder. He looks very athletic but also like he knows how to play as well. He is only just adjusting at the moment but PSV play a good passing game and he was the heart of their midfield and could be suited.

Jack Colback is not a football player. I appreciate a grafter and he does give 110% every week and I think it is something all midfields need. He’s the little terrier that won’t give you a minute to yourself, constantly nicking at ankles and coming in with the big tackles when required. Not suited to the style but something I believe every midfield needs.

De Jong I have not seen much of in a Newcastle shirt, but Ajax play a very technical game and he was a great success in their system, he could be perfect for McClaren’s style of play.

FORWARDS: 1/2 Suited

Mitrovic looks like a handful. His goals to games record is around one in two and his physical play must give any centre-back second thoughts. He looks like he has a bit more about him than your standard ‘target man’ but is he suited to passing the ball around? I don’t think so.

Ayoze on the other hand looks like he would fit this style perfectly. He works hard and drops deep to get the ball and as we’ve seen his technical ability at times is world class, plus he’s not afraid to be on the ball.

So overall I think four of the outfield ten are suited, or have the ability, to perform under this new passing/possession based style of play.

It’s only early in the season and by the end of it the players might prove me wrong and fit to it like a duck on water. However, what if we tried a different mentality?

Yes we may not have the best footballers in the world but we have some of the best athletes in the Premier League. Why not, instead of playing the long ball game, give Janmaat, Sissoko, Wijnaldum and Perez more freedom to run with the ball?

Fast paced counter-attacking through the middle, with Janmaat on the overlap, Mitrovic in the box and De Jong looking to mop up anything that falls on the edge of the box.

In my opinion, a faster paced more attacking style would best suit the squad we have at the moment  but let’s see first if McClaren can get his possession football to work…

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