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.

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  • Simon Ritter

    I saw Lascelles make his debut in defeat at Watford two seasons ago, when he scored a goal similar to the winner at Swansea. Yes, he has his shortcomings, but nobody knows how much his injury in the second half of last season hindered his performances. Well, nobody except Lascelles himself. As for there being no mention of his initial mistake in the Tammy Abraham incident, Lascelles in post-match interviews told the world he was at fault. He seems to be a born leader, a quality lacking in many Newcastle United players. More power to his elbow, though not in the Mitro style!

  • Paul Patterson

    It’s all about opinions and you’re certainly entitled to yours Dean, however your comment ‘Before anybody goes off on one in the belief this is a article slagging off Jamaal Lascelles, it is not.’

    Well, why say anything at all then? Surely your point about having a good crop of centre backs was all that was needed?

    After the game at Swansea, I remarked to a friend that the display from Lascelles was reminiscent of displays from John Terry at Chelsea in the past and that opinion still stands. You remark ‘ Good in the air but lack of pace and ability on the ball will always be weaknesses’.
    I don’t recall John Terry being quick or brilliant ‘on the ball’, especially at 23, but what he did he did well, even at 23.
    One swallow doesn’t make a summer, Jamaal will no doubt make mistakes, but if he improves and doesn’t become another Steven Taylor, then we will have a solid captain for the next 10 years. Now that would be positive news.

    • Damon Horner

      He’s like one of these pundits that thinks the sharper his tone the more attention he gets.

  • Oldgeordie

    Not sure where some of these people originate. Woodgate was an earlier version of Owen, more on the treatment table than the pitch. He did nothing after leaving “The Smoggies”. Difficult to assess a player after a few pre-season games and 20 mins. against Spurs but for sure he looks good. For me Mbemba looks better at left back than in the middle and has to be better than Dummet.
    Who cares who is best, second, third, fourth anyway? Good to have a crop of decent central defenders at last.

    • Oooh bobbi fleckman

      Woodgate was the best centre half we’ve had in my time watching nufc. Few players could read the game like him, he was immense at Leeds and Tootenham but for injuries, would have been England’s main man, had far more than Rio & Terry

      • Oldgeordie

        Never said he wasn’t good, just always injured. Same when he went to Spain.

        • Mal

          Agreed. He was brilliant when fit. It was always a mystery to me how he passed the medical to go to Spain.

  • Wor Lass

    Dean, the whole tenor of your headline is telling us that you`re going to be slagging off Lascelles, although – in fact – your article is actually quite fair. But I must say that you`re jumping the gun a bit. I did think Mbemba was our best player two seasons ago – but things have improved immensely in our defence since then. Clark is a classy player and quite solid but he also makes mistakes now and again. As for Lejeune, he looks a class act but he`s only played a bit of a game so far so it`s a bit early to be lauding him as our top man. Lascelles is a refreshingly honest young lad, very good in the air, whole-hearted, willing to learn and indisputably the leader of the pack. If the rest of the squad are happy with him as their captain then that`s good enough for me. Let`s just enjoy the fact that our defence now seems quite solid and that the manager has good options available to him and judge who`s who after a reasonable amount of games.

  • Billy Vinton

    This is just typical unnecessary negativity. We are on the back of two good wins. He’s played great in the last game. You think that this is the perfect time to point out you think he’s the fourth best defender and has plenty shortcomings. Although there may be others who agree with you. Who wants to hear it? and what is the point of bringing it up. You could have wrote that in a positive way and still got your point across. Just totally pointless. He’s young, improving, and has much more honesty than any captain I’ve seen in a long time. I hope he continues to improve and long may it continue.

  • Steve Smith

    Is Lascelles one of Llambias’, sorry, Charnley’s “purples” then?

  • Oooh bobbi fleckman

    The thing with defence is the centre halfs need to complement each other, Lascelles is strong and a good header if the ball plus he’s an organiser so he is good with Clark and mbemba. How he and Lejeune go together remains to be seen as both will want to dominate.

    Central defenders are the most prone to sending off and yellow cards, as the game gets more card happy, having depth is important and these 4 with Dummett is quite a luxury that will mean we’ll do ok.

    • Damon Horner

      I don’t think Lejeune would want to dominate too much, he plays with the ball at his feet and is a competent header of the ball, I think Lascelles would still be the go to man though with headed clearances.

      • Oooh bobbi fleckman

        I wasn’t very clear, I meant dominate as being the organiser. Clark and Mbemba don;t seem to mind being told what to do as neither see too vocal. Lejeune on the other hand appears to like a shout and a point as much as Lacelles does.

        as the article points out, it’s nice to have 4 players who can play without weakening the side. I just hope none of them get itchy feet. I suspect Rafa favours 2 of Lejeune, Clark & Lacelles in that order.

    • Mark Potter

      Has he been sent off? I don’t even remember him picking up yellows very often. It’s one of the good points about his ( and Clark’s) games, that they don’t give away pens and stupid fouls round the box.

      I agree with you about the organiser – he talks to the defence and keeper, and the players in from of him, and keeps things tight. That ability alone deserves him a starting position over Mbemba for instance.

      But in away games (and even home), where Rafa likes to keep things controlled, and is happy to concede possession, our two best weapons are break aways, and set pieces. Both centre halves have already scored this season, and it isn’t a surprise given the number they scored last year. Compare Lascelles’ record with Williamson and Collocini (a class player at his peak, but rare goal scorer). Mbemba has played alot more Prem games than Lascelles, but has yet to hit the back of the net IIRC.

  • goggsy

    So if they had of scored and we didn’t they would have won? Fascinating. Pretty sure Lascelles put his hands up immediately after the game to say,Abraham shouldn’t have even got the chance and it was his fault that he did.

  • Steve Pearce

    He was man of the match and gave a stunning display of football at both ends of the pitch. That makes him one of our best defenders and I honestly think that he deserves to get in the England squad. But i get your point about how our defence has improved and I can still remember commentators going on about “schoolboy defending” when we use to get torn apart by opposing strikers and midfielders.

  • Grahame Johnson

    2 clean sheets with only one alleged first choice defender is pretty good going, plus all our new players seem to have settled, Hadrian’s wall and the beach on your day off how nice to see

  • hetonmag

    It’s far too early after 4 games to say who’s best and who’s worst, Jammal is our Captain and look’s potentially to have a good future ahead of him so good luck to the boy.

  • TheFatController

    Given Dummett, Hayden and apparently even Merino can play CB, I doubt we’ll ever have to worry about the position all season…

  • ghostrider

    All this 4th best CB is not quite a truth, is it?
    Jamaal Lascelles is part of a 4 man crew of trusted CB’S that we’ve been missing for long enough.
    He’s captain which should be a massive nudge for those who think he’s 4th best.
    Let’s just say we have 4 extremely capable Centre backs.
    A massive plus for any team but even more so for a team that’s getting on its feet and building from the back.

    • Paul Busby

      Agreed, With the exception of highlighting that Clark is the best at the moment, I don’t see the benefit in trying to rank the rest of them.

      • ghostrider

        I have to admit, Clark is my favourite CB at the minute. No nonsense, all action, fully appreciative and a decent footballer to boot.

  • Mayor Vaughn

    I doubt anyone has seen enough of Lejuene to rank him above our captain just yet. Lets just revel in having a squad with 4 very capable centre backs, i can’t remember a time in the last 20 years when we have been so well off in that position. They will all be needed in the next 9 months that’s for sure.

  • Mal

    Oh good. We’ve won our last two games. Our captain has just given a MOM display and is to be given a 5 year contract. I know – let’s write a negative article about him. You say it wasn’t mentioned anywhere about him letting Abrahams in before he cleared off the line – you obviously didn’t see his post match interview where he admitted it himself before anyone had even mentioned it. He also played 6 months of last season with an injury for the good of the team. I’m not necessarily saying he’s top class (yet) but he’s improving. I just can’t understand why you pen such an article at this particular time.

  • Leicester Mag

    Happily badge myself as a malcontent in respect to our rotund patriarch, but this? Why look to rate players in this way? Many would argue this one area where we are well equipped and Lascelles is a key player in that respect. Not the best article ever!

  • Damon Horner

    Amazing. When we had Colo, Taylor and Williamson he was considered fourth best then too and the selection mirrored that yet we had a shocking record especially when the pressure was on.

    Now we have him as a regular starter with an excellent defensive start to the season and he is still considered as such.

    He isn’t the worlds best defender but howay man, give the lad a break.

  • Mike

    pointless article

  • Soldier

    Lejuene has played 30mins & already he`s better than Lascelles and Mbemba,
    in the same vein Merino has played a couple of games & some fans are writing off Shelvey, come back when they have 20 games under their belt
    you couldn`t make it up

    • Steve Smith

      Lascelles hasn’t started 20 Premier League games yet but apparently warrants a 5 year contract.

      • TheNutJob

        He wants, or Penfold wants. I wouldn’t give anyone a contract exceeding 3 years

        • Steve Smith

          Me neither, it’s absurd the way the happy clappers are going on like it’s some sort of triumph.

          It’s like Llambias and his purples all over again. We’ll be told how great the club is doing keeping wages below 60% of revenue next.

          • Damon Horner

            It’s just a contract extension for the club captain… Seriously people moan about anything.

            3 or 5 years, does it make that much of a difference to you?

  • Peter Stabler

    Without doubt the strongest I have seen with Dummy as back up, form and injury will see to it that they all get a game at some point, the first centre back pairing I saw was Moncur and McNamee!

  • Natturner26

    Agreed. Surprised folks in the comments don’t buy that you aren’t being negative. It is good news we have such depth at CB. My favorite player in the squad is Mbemba but I do think Clark and Lejeune are the two best at the moment.

  • Rob Brown

    I’d hazard a guess and say that’s why Rafa Benitez is our manager and not Dean Wilkins

  • Toonrobbybobson

    Ok… have we or have we not just had 2 cleansheets?

  • Toonrobbybobson

    Absolute prat clearly the author.

    Hes earned this contract from whats hes done in the past 18 months. Tell me what player has gone from nowhere in a relegated team he wasnt part of the relegation really to captain a championship winning side and get 2 cleansheets in half games since promotion…. aye clearly he doesnt deserve a new contract like some of the wasters weve dished them out to in the past.

    We have some moronic fans who actually think they are clever. Haha! Give over. They cant see the wood for the trees most of the time.

    Tell me what young central defenders are out there. John Stones is having a lull in his development, another young defender who cost £50m before the inflation this summer.

    If as a fan you cant see (obvious as the author it) what you have right in front of you then best retire your writing career and concentrate on the football better.

    I was always taught keep your mouth shut and let people think you are an idiot than open it and let them know for sure. His principle should be applied at the mag more often than not.

    Lascelles is one of our best young players end of with the bonus that he actually cares. Clearly you must know better than Rafa…

  • ToonNL

    Lejuene played 22 mins of Pl football and i already better? Doylum you

  • Martin Rooney

    If Tammy Abraham’s had scored Jamaal may well have scored two. All hypothetical scatterbrain tosh from someone who just needs to be heard. Florian Lejuene better than Bob Moncur ya kna said the five year old. Won’t be long till ya telling us he’s pap.