The harsh reality hit even Mike Ashley, only six Newcastle players are Premier League top half of the table quality.
Whoever finally made the owner realise what a mess the Newcastle United squad is, deserves a medal.
You can rule out Lee Charnley and Graham Carr as they have presided over year after year of this crisis building up, compounding Mike Ashley’s reckless running of the club, rather than trying to mitigate the damage he was doing with his decisions – especially on transfer strategy.
Maybe rather than just picking the team as was made clear before and after he arrived, Steve McClaren is actually being listened to by Mike Ashley.
Or alternatively, yet another hidden individual amongst Ashley’s entourage is flavour of the month with the owner and has pointed out where the club was heading without decisive action in this mid-season transfer window.
This is how the squad looked before the arrival of Jonjo Shelvey, Henri Saivet and Andros Townsend:
Players who have shown they are good enough to be top half of the Premier League (and still are):
Tim Krul, Georginio Wijnaldum, Moussa Sissoko, Ayoze Pérez, Chancel Mbemba, Daryl Janmaat
Players who look good enough to do a job at least until May:
Fabricio Coloccini, Rob Elliot, Aleksandar Mitrovic
Players good enough to do a job if they find their best form and stay fit (and don’t leave):
Steven Taylor, Cheick Tiote, Papiss Cisse, Jack Colback
Players to call on in an emergency who have very rare decent games:
Paul Dummett, Vurnon Anita, Massadio Haïdara
Players where totally unknown whether they will be good enough, now or in the future:
Curtis Good, Lubomir Satka, Adam Armstrong, Ivan Toney, Rolando Aarons, Karl Darlow, Jamaal Lascelles, Florian Thauvin, Freddie Woodman, Siem de Jong, Freddie Woodman, Kevin Mbabu
Players shown to be not good enough:
Mike Williamson, Yoan Gouffran, Gabriel Obertan, Emmanuel Rivière, Sylvain Marveaux, Shane Ferguson, Gael Bigirimana
(The players above were the ones contracted to Newcastle at the start of January and now some have left, others confirmed on loan at other clubs until May, whilst some are injured)
The massively good news, is that of the very top group (good enough to be top ten), only Tim Krul is injured and that has been the case all season, with the other five hardly missing a Premier League between them.
A similar case with the next group (good enough to do a job), with Coloccini, Mitrovic and Rob Elliot all being available when needed, apart from the odd game.
So we are up to eight fit players (Wijnaldum, Mbemba, Perez, Sissoko, Janmaat, Coloccini, Mitrovic and Elliot) who I believe are good enough to be involved in tackling the relegation fight.
After that, we are/were in the hands of the gods, with the likes of Taylor, Tiote, Colback and Cisse sometimes looking the part, then Dummett, Anita and Haidara able to do a decent job on very rare occasions.
After that you are looking at totally unknown quantities (apart from the very bottom group (Gouffran, Riviere etc) who we have seen more than enough of to know they aren’t good enough.
In the unknown quantities group you have players such as Siem de Jong and Florian Thauvin who you hope might show one day why we signed them, then you have a decent number of young players such as Armstrong, Woodman, Aarons, Lascelles and Toney who may progress and be stars of the future, fingers crossed.
However, this relegation battle is right now and with only 15 matches remaining the need for players who are good enough is now.
Whilst Henri Saivet is very much an unknown, Shelvey and Townsend are players who have performed well in the Premier League and now have the opportunity to put behind them problems at their previous clubs.
Talk of also bringing in one or two experienced players on loan (I am far too realistic/pessimistic to think we’ll buy), with a striker and left-back rumoured to be on their way.
Sunderland, Bournemouth, Swansea, Villa and Norwich are all buying players this window as well, so it was a no-brainer Newcastle had to.
Let’s just hope it is going to be enough…
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