After positive injury/fitness update this needs to be the Newcastle team v Tottenham
All eyes are now on the Newcastle team v Tottenham.
After the opening defeats home and away, fair to say that nobody is feeling very positive.
However, I think Sunday is an ideal time to start turning this around.
A big positive for me in terms of the approach to this game, is that nobody, least of all Newcastle fans, expect the Magpies to get anything from this game.
Indeed, after Saturday in particular, I think anything other than a heavy loss would be a surprise for most.
For me, what is clear for starters is that the same players with the same attitude can’t be allowed to repeat what we saw at Norwich.
Everything looked wrong from the start: the team selection, the tactics, the body language of the players.
Inviting the opposition to constantly attack and with no real attacking threat of your own, will only lead to one outcome. That was Norwich.
Ultra defensive tactics that left a Newcastle midfield standing on the toes of the NUFC defence and two thirds of the pitch seeing a yawning gap between Joelinton and Almiron, then an even bigger gap back to the rest of the team.
We desperately need more pace and mobility in this team and at the same time get back to the defensive solidity from the past two seasons.
At the back I would keep the three/five man defence but make one change.
I thought it was just plain stupidity when Steve Bruce put Krafth in after only a week, he ended up being largely at fault for the second and third goals at Norwich and was very poor overall.
Manquillo has done well in the later stages of last season and in the summer, did ok against Arsenal. We know he is not a world beater but bringing him back in is a no-brainer on Sunday. He knows the system and has played in this back five any number of times, we need that organisation desperately at the moment, to give a solid base.
The three in central midfield is a nonsense for me, it isn’t getting the best out of any of those players and is having a knock-on detrimental effect elsewhere.
Get back to a central midfield pair and especially in a tough away game like this, we need the legs of Hayden and Longstaff to get around and break up the opposition play. Shelvey simply can’t do it, or at least not as effectively as those two.
The positive news on the injury front is that Joelinton and Allan Saint-Maximin are reported to be ok now for the Tottenham match.
Let’s get back to an attacking trio and with the pace of ASM and Almiron I don’t see how in any way that weakens Newcastle defensively, as they have the legs to get up and down.
Even if we are defending for long periods, having this attacking trio will still give Newcastle an attacking edge, rather than the isolated Almiron and Joelinton we saw at Norwich.
No guarantees this line-up will get a result but I think it can/will give it a good go.
Joelinton and Almiron would stay up front but I would sacrifice one of the three central midfielders and bring in ASM on the wing in a 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 formation.
The trouble is that none of Shelvey, Hayden and Longstaff really get into the box and Almiron tends to do most of his best work outside the box as well.
Joelinton was usually the only one in the box whenever a ball was delivered.
I think Hayden is first choice in the middle and would maybe chop and change between Shelvey and Longstaff. Shelvey doesn’t have the greatest stamina anyway and Steve Bruce could tell him to give it everything against Norwich for an hour or so and then bring Longstaff on.
As we saw on Sunday, ASM was very direct and full of tricks and dribbling ability, looking to get in the box as much as possible, so surely in a team that has so few goals in it, he has to be included. Plus I think he and Ritchie can swap wings when needed and give Norwich different problems.
Which gives me this Newcastle team v Tottenham, that could surprise:
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