Two huge things strike me about this Newcastle team v Hibernian – Can’t be ignored
Not long before 7pm tonight the Newcastle team v Hibernian was named.
The fourth friendly of the pre-season as Newcastle fans hope for some positivity after a dreadful summer.
Only 12 days to go until the season kicks off and nine day before the transfer window closes.
With just the one other friendly (St Etienne at home on Saturday) to go, tonight’s team is very different from the friendlies so far.
Steve Bruce starting with:
Darlow, Manquillo, Schar, Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie, Hayden, Shelvey, (S) Longstaff, Amniron, Joelinton
I looked at that team a good few times and do you know what, I think it looks pretty decent, at least on paper.
It needs a lot of things to come together and still looks desperately short of goals but there is potential there.
As I say a lot of ifs and buts with a desperate need for the front two to click very quickly.
Joelinton has to be a success, no question, if this season is going to go ok. Whilst Almiron needs to add goals to is promise of last season.
Shelvey has to prove to be the good one that we saw in the final few months of the 2017/18 season which led to so many of us thinking e was cheated not to go to Russia for the World Cup. Also, obviously Sean Longstaff showed loads of promise last season but it was still just a handful of games, so he has to show that was no beginners luck.
We all know Manquillo isn’t really a Premier League player but did ok towards the end of last season at wing-back, so I think we can get away with him.
The only massive worry with this team is the absence of Martin Dubravka, just like the Wolves and Preston matches he is not even in the squad. He played the full game against West Ham but I am finding it hard to swallow this idea of giving the other two keepers a full game so close to the season with Dubravka not even part of the squad. I do fear Ashley is going to sell him.
Which brings me to the not so good news.
I look at our bench and we have pretty much nothing.
If the season started on Saturday and tonight’s team and subs were playing in the Premier League, we couldn’t afford to have anybody injured whatsoever.
These are tonight’s subs:
Woodman, Sterry, Clark, Fernández, Ki, (M) Longstaff, Aarons, Murphy, Muto
I think Woodman could be a PL keeper one day but not yet, whilst to be honest, I don’t think Darlow is PL standard either.
Ki, Clark and Fernandez can all do a job but only up to a point and all three would weaken the team. As for the rest, none of them are capable of performing at PL level, although Matty Longstaff has time to get there in the future.
I look at who else is missing tonight, presumably through injury.
The likes of Colback, Lazaar, Atsu, Saivet, Elliot…all need to find new clubs.
The only one who is definitely PL class is Florian Lejeune and he is a big miss. Gayle I do like and Yedlin is no better or worse than Manquillo I think we have found out over time.
So summing it all up, Newcastle’s squad strength is non-existent.
Mike Ashley appears to be totally deluded and believes that despite such a lack of investment allowed in the team/squad these past two years, that magically we aren’t desperate for both quality and quantity.
We lost three first team players in Rondon, Perez and Diame.
We lost another three of the first team squad in Joselu, Kenedy and Barreca.
To only sign Joelinton is crazy, the squad needed at least another five or six players added this summer and they should be on the pitch or sitting on the bench tonight.
I don’t want to tempt fate but imagine if Dubravka, Joelinton and Almiron picked up injuries ahead of the season, along with one or two of the likes of Ritchie and Hayden, NUFC would be in serious trouble. Not that we aren’t already because already we are gambling on so many players hitting form with absolutely no alternatives in so many positions.
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