Football is not a complex game; if you play your best 11 players on a consistent basis in their correct positions, and they show the required determination and passion to succeed, you will get results and pick up points.
As Pavel Srnicek pointed out in the Chronicle over the weekend, Steve McClaren should know his best players and best Newcastle team by now and should play them regularly together in training and matches, so they can learn and understand their games better.
January is a long way off, so McClaren must make do with the players at his disposal, but if each and every player in Newcastle’s squad is fit, this is Newcastle best team in my opinion for the reasons I lay out below:
Krul: The most experienced keeper at the club and outstanding on his day, but still prone to the odd concentration lapse at crucial moments and letting in too many soft goals from outside the box at the minute.
Mbemba/Janmaat: Personally, I would play Mbemba ahead of Janmaat for the simple reason that he is a much better defender and he would give Newcastle more cover in the air from opposition corners.
Janmaat poses an attacking threat, but if you have to rely on your full back to provide forward momentum, you are in trouble.
Defensively, Janmaat is extremely inconsistent and constantly gets caught out at his back post. Mbemba has proven to be a consistent defender and has shown ability on the ball, so he gets the nod at full back in my opinion.
Coloccini: Until we find a replacement, he is still Newcastle’s best defender so he is an automatic choice.
Taylor: Although prone to the odd howler, when fit he is a solid, dependable and committed performer at the back. It is no surprise that one of Newcastle’s best performances this season, Manchester United away, coincided with a solid performance from Taylor. He seems to bring out the best in Coloccini as well, taking on the role of vocal on field organizer so Coloccini can focus on playing and leading by example.
Dummett: Never going to be a superstar, but the most dependable left back we currently have at the club, so he starts.
Tiote: Although he currently looks less fit than a Sunday league pub team player, when he is fit and ready there is no one better at Newcastle for breaking up opposition play and providing defensive cover for the back four than Tiote.
His passing is poor and he occasionally gets caught doing too much in dangerous positions in our own half, but Newcastle look a stronger outfit with him in the side.
Wijnaldum: Appears to be coming to terms with the Premier League and should only get better. A roaming position on the left appears to suit him as he adapts to the league and as long as he continues to work defensively he should remain in this position.
Coback/de Jong: DeJong is unquestionably more technically gifted than Colback, but he seems more one paced and uncommitted than his pea-hearted brother, Luuk.
If he is fully fit and can raise his game to what is required in terms of Premier League energy and commitment levels then he should be a starter. If not, then Colback plays as he is a solid performer and freed a little more from defensive duties by Tiote he might develop more as a player.
Sissoko: A player of his stature and physical presence should be dominating midfield battles and driving the game for Newcastle from the middle of the field and not the right wing.
If he wants a Champions League club he needs to start performing consistently and showing less fear and mental strength.
If there was anyone better, I would have dropped him long ago, but unfortunately there is not, so he starts in the middle of the park with license to get forward and support the front man.
Perez: Newcastle’s most talented and committed performer. If all players had this kid’s desire and passion, Newcastle would not be struggling so badly. He starts on the right with freedom to roam.
Mitrovic: An automatic starter after proving a strong physical presence, a goal threat and adapted quickly to what is required in the Premier League.
This team not only contains Newcastle’s best players currently in the squad, but seems to strike a nice balance between attack and defensive cover.
Furthermore, it has a Geordie backbone and you can always rely on players such as Taylor, Dummett and Colback to put in a committed shift and drive the team on when times get tough.
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