Newcastle missing half the team from 8 months ago – For better or worse?
If we transport ourselves 8 months (to the day) back in time, Newcastle met Southampton at St James Park.
Due to Southampton’s Europa League commitments the match was moved to the Sunday.
Fair to say that the mood was mixed before that opening game of the season, three new signings but only Wijnaldum having any kind of a proper pre-season at St James Park.
Chancel Mbemba and Aleksandar Mitrovic signed late (Florian Thauvin not yet signed…), the Serbian striker starting on the bench and the other two in the first 11.
With near relegation less than three months previous, most of the 49,019 present were wondering whether enough had been done to reverse the downward trend.
After the 90 minutes were up, fair to say that the mood was improved.
A decent performance with United having 56% of the possession, coming back from going behind and leading 2-1, only to tire in the later stages and Southampton equalise with 11 minutes to go.
This is the line-up that day (9 August 2015):
Anita (Tiote 68)
Wijnaldum (de Jong 81)
Cissé (Mitrovic 75)
This afternoon at St. Mary’s, a minimum of five of those players will be missing: a suspended Colback and injuries for Obertan, Coloccini, Haidara and Krul.
Add to that, Anita must surely be dropped today after his showing at Norwich, whilst Cisse could also be at risk of losing his place in the team.
Sticking to those certain to miss from that opening day: Krul, Haidara, Coloccini, Obertan and Colback, their places are likely to be taken by Darlow, Shelvey, Townsend, Mitrovic and Taylor.
On that basis, surely we must think that with the likes of certainly Townsend, Shelvey and Mitrovic, that Newcastle certainly have more talent on the pitch than they had 8 months ago?
In addition, United certainly have a better manager than back in August.
If only belief can be added to this mix then surely Newcastle United should have a better team than they did when the season kicked off?
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