Newcastle United will shortly be announcing a new five year contract for Jamaal Lascelles.
Various media saying they have been informed that a deal is imminent.
Good news, as he is an ok player and has done a decent job captaining Newcastle under Rafa Benitez.
However, this doesn’t change the fact, in my opinion, that he is still only Newcastle’s fourth best centre-back.
Before anybody goes off on one in the belief this is a article slagging off Jamaal Lascelles, it is not.
Just the basic, and obvious (to me) fact, Newcastle also have another three central defenders, who are even better.
In fact, I would say it is difficult to remember when NUFC had such a strong hand when it came to the centre of defence. If Rafa had similar strength in depth (and quality) in every position, then he would be sorted.
If you want the perfect example of just how badly Mike Ashley weakened the squad with lack of investment, look at just how long we had to ‘rely’ on Coloccini, Williamson and Steven Taylor for the centre of defence.
Yes 2011/12 they did very well, as did the rest of the team, but after that you just have to look at the goals conceded every season, with Newcastle in the handful of worst clubs each time.
We have had the odd excellent centre-back, such as obviously Jonathan Woodgate, but even back then he had to play with the likes of Titus Bramble(!) and honest grafter Andy O’Brien.
If I had to rank our current centre-backs, it would be…
Ciaran Clark – Indisputably the best at the club, very very rarely does he have anything like a bad game.
Florian Lejeune – Impressed in pre-season and looked the part alongside Clark, started the season as first choice until injury struck.
Chancel Mbemba – Newcastle’s best defender in the 2015/16 relegation season and still has loads of potential to be even better, like Ciaran Clark he has pace which is something that can’t be coached.
Jamaal Lascelles – Good in the air but lack of pace and ability on the ball will always be weaknesses.
I thought Lascelles did very well on Sunday and had no complaints when he got man of the match from everybody, having stopped a certain goal on the line and scored at the other end (as Ciaran Clark did against West Ham). However, it is a perfect example of the victors writing history as nowhere have I seen it mentioned, that it was actually Jamaal Lascelles at fault when Tammy Abraham ran in behind him, and the Newcastle captain was too slow to read the situation/react. If the Swansea striker had scored (which he should have done) then it is very likely the home side would have gone on to win and the whole agenda would have changed, including Lascelles not being man of the match and in today’s world of extremes, would very probably have been named and shamed as to blame for the defeat.
It just shows the small margins that exist this season between glory and disaster, luckily Newcastle and Jamaal Lascelles came out on the right side of it this time.
Lascelles and Clark are now in possession of the shirts and so I expect them to be first choice in the short to medium term unless disaster strikes.
The big plus for me though is that we now have four centre-backs and whilst I have my own preference as first choice, Clark and Lejeune, I would be comfortable with whichever pairing Rafa chose out of the four candidates. That is something which I don’t think Newcastle have ever had in my time supporting, going back to the seventies.