Sky Sports pundit Matt le Tissier thinks Newcastle United will be ok this season but only if they get the players Rafa Benitez needs in the transfer window.
The former Southampton player has identified a number of positions that need strengthening…
On the shopping list, Matt le Tissier thinks there is a desperate need for a new first choice goalkeeper and centre-forward, along with somebody who can contribute more from midfield.
He picks out the fact that Newcastle’s top scorer has only three goals with more than half the season already behind us, a major reason why five of the last six home games have seen NUFC fail to score.
Interesting looking back (see below) at what Matt le Tissier said before the season started, back on 3 August he was interested to see how Gayle and Shelvey would do when stepping up to the Premier League and picked out Matt Ritchie as a key player this season.
All three have disappointed to varying degrees and prompts the desperation for new signings.
One thing hasn’t changed though, with the Sky Sports pundit picking out Rafa Benitez as the main man, both in August and the present day.
Matt le Tissier talking to Sky Sports:
“I think Newcastle need a centre-forward as Joselu hasn’t really done it and Dwight Gayle is a bit hit and miss, and then, like a few sides, they need more contributions from midfield.
“Their top goalscorers have three goals after 20 (ED:21!) games, which is just shocking.
“Then a top-drawer goalkeeper would help, no disrespect to Rob Elliot and Karl Darlow.
“If Rafael Benitez gets those reinforcements he needs then you would back him to keep them in the Premier League but they are in trouble otherwise.”
Matt Le Tissier talking to Sky Sports – 3 August 2017:
‘What is success for Benitez’s Newcastle?’
“Well I guess for most teams coming up it is just staying up, but Newcastle’s fan base will expect a bit more, so I think 13th or above would be considered a successful stepping stone season.”
‘Which of their players are you most excited about watching?’
“I think it will be interesting to see how Dwight Gayle will cope with being first-choice striker as he’s never really been that in the Premier League.
“I’d also like to see how Jonjo Shelvey, who has always had the ability to dominate games, has developed and matured now he’s got a bit more experience under his belt.”
‘What are the challenges facing the manager this season?’
“The challenges have been trying to bring in quality players who are going to improve the team. There’s not been much movement up there and I’d expect a bit more before the close of the window.
“If you look at the teams who come up, not many survive without improving themselves in the summer.”
‘What are their strengths?’
“The strength is probably the manager.
“If you look at the squad it’s not outstanding.
“I like Matt Ritchie and he will be one of their key men, so him and their manager.”
‘What are their weaknesses?’
“I would say, looking at the squad, in the forward department. Gayle has never really done it in the Premier League and Ayoze Perez and Aleksandar Mitrovic didn’t really deliver either so their weakness is scoring a lot of goals.”
‘Where will they finish this season and why?’
“Just because of Rafa, if he stays there all season, they’ll be somewhere just below mid-table.”