Do you recall those four January signings Newcastle brought in, you know, the ones who were going to save United by helping the team to stop conceding so many goals and to score a load more?
If you’re struggling to remember, they were Jonjo Shelvey, Henri Saivet, Andros Townsend and Seydou Doumbia.
Since the January transfer window opened, Newcastle have played eight Premier League matches and these four new signings have made 10 starts between them – five of them by Shelvey.
Wednesday night saw things reach a new low when it comes to evaluating what impact these four January signings have had and why exactly they were brought in.
Henri Saivet has played one minute of Premier League football (injury time sub v West Brom) since being dragged off in the feeble display and defeat at Everton.
Seydou Doumbia has now racked up 26 (TWENTY SIX) minutes of Premier League football, including the six minutes against Stoke as a desperation substitute after going one down.
Andros Townsend went down with a mystery ailment which is now claimed to be a hamstring problem, though he may also have had shellshock after that drubbing at Chelsea, as well as panic attacks now he has realised what a mad mad club he has joined.
As for Jonjo Shelvey, despite only being here five minutes and having no experience of captaining previously in the Premier League, was handed the extra pressure of the Captain’s armband at Stoke – remember this is the player brought in to pull the strings in midfield and get the team playing.
When the team was announced against Stoke, Jack Colback came straight back in to replace the injured Cheick Tiote, with Henri Saivet once again overlooked. So fair to say that in the central midfield area, Saivet is ranked at the very least behind Shelvey, Tiote and Colback, with Vurnon Anita yet another possibility as he is fit again.
Aleksandar Mitrovic lumbered around the pitch on Wednesday, yes he had a thankless job with negative tactics and no/little support but then when we found out afterwards that he’d been brought back when not 100%…just what is going on.
Then with 16 minutes to go, the total liability that is Yoan Gouffran was at last removed from the field of play as Newcastle hopefully looked for a winner against an out of sorts Stoke City. However, instead of Seydou Doumbia (bucket load of goals in Russia and the Champions league) instead we get ‘one Premier League goal in 20 months’ Emmanuel Riviere. Unbelievable.
With Jonjo Shelvey, yes he was on the pitch and yes he was Captain, but what the hell was going on?
These remarks about ‘quarterback’ Jonjo Shelvey and his long range passing have obviously totally frazzled McClaren’s brain because often on Wednesday night, the midfielder was ending up even deeper than the centre-backs as he picked up the ball.
The player we need as far up the pitch as possible in the hope of creating something, instead keeping Rob Elliot company.
It was telling that when Newcastle undeservedly almost got something from the match in injury time, it was January signings Seydou Doumbia and Jonjo Shelvey combining.
Newcastle’s first proper attempt on goal saw Shelvey in the final third of the pitch for just about the first time, he powered down the left hand side of the 18 yard box before cutting the ball back with his weaker left foot, only for then Doumbia’s snapshot to be brilliantly saved by Jack Butland.
I have no faith at all that Steve McClaren knows what he is doing and his (lack of) use of the January signings suggests strongly to me that he still has zero say on which players are brought in.
You bring in new players to try and save a desperate situation and yet they are left idle whilst the likes of Gouffran and Riviere get on the pitch – mental.
To a slightly lesser extent I have to say the same with playing the so so limited Jack Colback ahead of Saivet, plus a less than totally fit (which we are still yet to see!) Aleksandar Mitrovic.
As for Andros Townsend, having not played a full Premier League match for around two years, little wonder he is feeling the effects of having to play left wing and covering left-back.
Bringing in players mid-season is always fraught with problems and usually the choice of desperate clubs such as Newcastle (8 of the biggest 9 fees paid by Premier League clubs in January were by ones fighting relegation).
As usual Newcastle making things up as they go along, the January signings just yet another manifestation of that.
It would be nice to have a five minute plan never mind a five year one…
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