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Opinion

Is this (lack of) Premier League experience the key killer factor for Newcastle United

1 month ago
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Is Premier League experience essential when putting together a team to succeed, or even just survive?

What kind of added risks, if any, are there if relying to a large extent on untried and untested players.

Especially if they are young and /or coming from weaker overseas leagues.

Well run stable clubs treat new signings with caution, only playing them once they are satisfied they are up to speed and capable of handling the step up to the Premier League.

Newcastle’s history has generally been one of signing players, including untried ones from overseas, then chucking them straight into action on a sink or swim philosophy. A lot of them failing this drastic swimming test.

Rafa Benitez changed that and was prepared whenever necessary to hold playing new signings until they were ready, even if the demands of the team looked relatively serious at the time. A case of short-term pain for long-term gain, the same applying with those players who were coming back from injury.

In this now/new Steve Bruce era, the pressures are great and the need for positive results feels almost overwhelming, even with only two games gone.

Newcastle signed four players from overseas this summer and all of them were in the squad for the opening match. Even though two (ASM and Willems) of them only had a week’s worth of pre-season training and another only a day or two (Krafth).

Looking at the situation overall, this summer saw first team players Diame, Rondon and Perez all leave, the three of them long time Premier League players. Even the departing Joselu had experienced three seasons in the Premier League with 68 appearances.

This isn’t any kind of an argument to suggest Joselu should have stayed BUT you do have to worry at the sheer lack of experience with so many players who you would expect were/are set to be first team regulars this season.

When this 2019/20 season kicked off, this is how many Premier League starts these Newcastle players had previously had:

0 – Joelinton

0 – Emil Krafth

9 – Miguel Almiron

0 – Jetro Willems

8 – Sean Longstaff

0 – Allan Saint-Maximin

We are basically talking half this Newcastle first choice team and pretty much all of the players who we are relying on to supply the attacking threat and hopefully goals – The main attacking trio of Joelinton, ASM and Almiron, the two attacking wing-backs brought in, plus Newcastle’s best chance of goals from central midfield, Sean Longstaff.

These six players starting the season with only 17 Premier League starts between them.

No/little previous experience of the Premier League isn’t an impossible obstacle to overcome but it does surely increase the likelihood of problems early in the season. Especially when none of them has had a proper full pre-season with Newcastle, four overseas signings arriving late in the transfer window, Almiron coming back late after international duty, whilst Sean Longstaff was eased into the friendlies after a bad injury last season.

I think this Newcastle team/squad are potentially capable of showing far better than we have seen so far but it is now a massive early test as to whether they can navigate the early stages of the season without too much damage in terms of results and loss of confidence and belief.

This season is very much in the balance and how quickly these players inexperienced in the Premier League can progress and settle, looks key to how we get on – both short and longer-term.

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