3 into 1 doesn’t go in this Newcastle United team
The first couple of matches have thrown up as many theories as there are Newcastle United fans, in terms of what has got wrong and the best way to fix it.
With no further signings since the season kicked off at Fulham 12 days ago, Rafa Benitez has the same squad of players as he had in the build up to that match at Craven Cottage.
Whilst individual errors have led to goals conceded, I do think there is an overall consensus that the biggest issue has been the inability to create chances and get the ball into players who are in potential goalscoring positions.
The most glaring issue for me is in the middle of the pitch.
Quite simply, Rafa has three players and can only play one of the trio, otherwise the formation is simply far too negative and creates major problems for the side as we have seen already in the three hours of football.
The Newcastle United boss can play no more than one of these three players: Vurnon Anita, Isaac Hayden and Jack Colback. They will not create or score goals and playing two or more makes the team far too negative, especially when you are facing teams who will defend in numbers themselves.
Rafa selected all three of them at Fulham, two against Huddersfield, and I have everything crossed that this is reduced to one tonight against Reading.
Of the three, it looks obvious that he has to go with Isaac Hayden, whilst he may not have been great against Fulham & Huddersfield, the former Arsenal player looks to have more about him than the other two and is taller, stronger, quicker than Colback & Anita.
Injury to Diame has further complicated team selection against Reading and I know that other than Ritchie nobody in the front six has covered themselves in glory…but please, no more sightings of Anita playing as some kind of playmaker (at Fulham) or even worse, a winger (v Huddersfield)!
So Jonjo Shelvey and Isaac Hayden surely have to play along with Matt Ritchie, then just a case of picking two other players in that front six who can support Dwight Gayle and hopefully create/score goals themselves. Maybe even bring Jesus Gamez into a back three and push Daryl Janmaat, one of Newcastle’s few attacking threats so far, up on the right and use another wing-back on the left.
Not asking for/demanding Keegan style attack, attack, attack but an isolated Dwight Gayle does nobody any favours with players such as Colback and Anita watching idly by.
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