Only 68 days until the new season kicks off and the big question being, which Newcastle players do we want to hang around?
It is a massive bonus that Rafa Benitez and his staff have already had the benefit of a two month rapid education in terms of what they have inherited.
The shambolic running of the club and confused & stunted transfer policy, leaving them with the 38 players below.
When it comes to carving them up into groupings, I have used five.
From those select few players who I believe are desperately needed to stay for a (hopefully) instant return to the Premier League, right down to the numerous ones who are not up to the job in either division.
Categories with players here and then write-up below:
Good enough and also essential for Premier League if get promoted
Chancel Mbemba, Jamaal Lascelles, Jonjo Shelvey, Adam Armstrong, Andros Townsend
Good enough to perform in Championship and maybe keep for Premier League if get promoted
Rob Elliot, Karl Darlow, Rolando Aarons, Daryl Janmaat, Tim Krul, Ayoze Perez, Georginio Wijnaldum, Moussa Sissoko, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Kevin Mbabu
Keep for the Championship but then sell/let go
Cheick Tiote, Paul Dummett, Vurnon Anita, Jack Colback
A bonus if they contribute this coming season
Freddie Woodman, Ivan Toney, Lubomir Satka, Curtis Good, Henri Saivet
Not up to the job
Sammy Ameobi, Haris Vuckic, Gael Bigirimana, Sylvain Marveaux, Emmanuel Riviere, Seydou Doumbia, Steven Taylor, Massadio Haidara, Florian Thauvin, Siem de Jong, Yoan Gouffran, Fabricio Coloccini, Gabriel Obertan, Papiss Cisse
Of those in that first (top) category, I would put Townsend, Mbemba and Lascelles, in that order. Townsend is clearly our most gifted and threatening player,whilst Mbemba is Newcastle’s number one defender. If Lascelles can show longer term what he did at the end of last season then at long long last United could have a real quality centre of defence.
Adam Armstrong is of course still an unknown above League One standard but after 20 goals for Coventry, the 19 year old surely stands every chance of bouncing through the divisions and scoring goals next season in the Championship before having a real go at the top division.
Jonjo Shelvey is a strange one, Rafa Benitez bought him just before he left Liverpool so you can assume he rates him and had him watched, but the Newcastle Manager ended up leaving him out of the relegation run-in.
On an alleged £80,000 a week, Jonjo Shelvey must surely be a certain starter next season or otherwise, a player that would have to leave this summer.
At the other end of the equation, we have already seen the likes of Obertan and Marveaux thrown out before the end of their contracts, whilst Seydou Doumbia has proved yet another disastrous loan deal by Graham Carr.
Of the other ones I have placed in the ‘not up to the job’ category for next season, maybe the more notable are players such as Cisse, de Jong, Thauvin and Coloccini. Yes there is an argument, up to a point, for these and no doubt other players but I just see them as very risky propositions even in the Championship, players who Newcastle need to get out of the club as quickly as possible.
I find it very doubtful whether Henri Saivet is the answer to anything but with so little seen of him I can’t totally write him off, so I would put him with the likes of young players such as Toney and Woodman, where it is a bonus if they contribute anything in the Championship.
On the other hand I think Colback, Tiote, Anita and Dummett can all be decent players next season but if Newcastle did get promoted, then I think it is time for us to move on and aim for higher quality.
Then when it comes to definitely good enough for the Championship but up for debate to stay at Newcastle in the case of getting to the Premier League, I find an awful lot of our players fit that category.
All three keepers are decent but don’t we need something better if then hoping to progress IF in the Premier League. Whilst with others such as Sissoko, Wijnaldum and Janmaat, they clearly have the ability but have they the right attitude, so maybe a case of considering forcing them to stay and them moving them on if promoted?
Whilst the likes of young players such as Aarons and Perez, can they use the Championship to really bring their games on?
As always, more questions than answers.