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Opinion

With four top England superstars how are Newcastle United in this mess?

1 year ago
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With this array of England talent, just how can Newcastle United end up in this position?

It is just baffling isn’t it?

Not only are Newcastle second bottom of the Premier League but the quality of football is terrible, a total lack of goal threat and defending for pretty much the whole 90 minutes every week.

With four top quality England players in the squad, it makes the thing even more puzzling…

I jest of course.

The problem is though for many Newcastle fans, that they get far too carried away on far too little.

The media play a big part in fuelling this of course, particularly the local journalists, who will go to any over the top lengths to get those extras clicks.

The bottom line is that nobody in this Newcastle squad is anywhere remotely close to the England team, or even the squad.

Our top England stars are Jamaal Lascelles, Isaac Hayden, Sean Longstaff and Jonjo Shelvey.

I find it quite astounding that even this season, there have been calls from many Newcastle fans and local media, outrage even, claiming the first three of these should have made it into Southgate’s squad.

It is totally bizarre and deluded.

It doesn’t mean that all four of these Newcastle players are rubbish but suggestions they should be in the England squad are (rubbish).

Jamaal Lascelles is a steady away defender usually but isn’t an England player. In a back five his lack of pace and lack of ability on the ball don’t usually get so exposed (which was a big reason for Rafa switching to three centre-backs I reckon). He does a decent job for Newcastle most days but for me is way behind Schar and Lejeune in terms of quality.

The outrage last season when Declan Rice was seen as a better choice for England ahead of Sean Longstaff was embarrassing. The Geordie midfielder did well but he had only played a handful of games. Anybody who believes Man Utd were trying to buy him for £50m need their heads looking at. Undoubtedly a Mike Ashley people pushed story (‘Ashley refuses to sell best young Newcastle talent for £50m’), plus he was out injured recovering from an operation.  Indeed that is undoubtedly impacting Longstaff this season, still not 100% but needed to play due to Newcastle’s poor other options, too much expectation/responsibility on someone so inexperienced.

As for Jonjo Shelvey, yes he can pass the ball really well but how often do we see it and how many decent games does he have? He had that little purple patch for a few month in February-April 2018 like many other players but apart from that what else have we seen in almost three years of Premier League football at Newcastle?

Isaac Hayden has shown the most of this quartet in 2019 but in truth, hasn’t been very good this season. That may be a lot down to the clueless head coach but whilst Hayden did well in the second half of last season, he is still somebody with sizeable limitations in his game, especially when talking about being an international.

Once again, I’m not saying these are all poor players.

What I am saying though is that it is a problem when Newcastle fans get so carried away on so little.

I often hear Newcastle fans saying how can NUFC be struggling when we have players such as those listed above.

Sean Longstaff has time on his side of course and carries our hopes but both he and Hayden at best normally just mainly do the basics well, it isn’t as though they are scoring and creating goals every other week.

Rafa Benitez made so many of our players look so much better than they probably are as individuals because he has the ability to set up a team where they are capable of then performing at their pretty much highest potential.

Of the current squad, I think Dubravka and Schar are the only two real quality players Newcastle have, maybe Lejeune as well if e can successfully come back from this second tough operation.

Under Steve Bruce they are increasingly looking like a poor collection of individuals who don’t really know what their jobs are and how this team is supposed to function.

We hope for better in the future but we won’t see the best of any player, or team, so long as this head coach remains at St James Park.

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