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Is this where and why it is going wrong up front for Newcastle United?

11 months ago

The simple answer to the above question is to blame the ludicrous Newcastle United transfer policy that has left the side with a serial crock (Andy Carroll) a Championship standard striker (Dwight Gayle) and two players that are simply NOT strikers (Joelinton and Yoshinori Muto).

If you add Saturday’s no show for the forward line to the many cases for the prosecution this season, it doesn’t take a genius to see that the summer’s transfer business is the main fault and cause for our current striking failings.

While not taking up the Salomon Rondon option was as criminal as allowing Ayoze Perez to leave without a fight, surely things could be far better with what we have?

The team needs it’s most creative and effective players in it and crucially for Head Coach Steve Bruce, it needs players that are underperforming for Newcastle United to be dropped from the starting line up.

This week CIES Football Observatory highlighted that Allan Saint Maximin is Newcastle United’s Most Valuable Player and whilst he is a spark, that is all he is at present, a spark in a pretty ineffectual and dull forward line.

Surely it can’t just be that which has brought him to their attention? If that were the case then surely Miguel Almiron would be just as valuable?

When I saw the CIES findings I did find it amusing as much as stupid. What did they base the result on?

Ciaran Clark and Federico Fernandez have both scored two goals, Jetro Willems has also done that, what about him?

If you look closer, the fact that Allan Saint Maximin has played in the games where we’ve picked up the most points can’t be ignored but surely that would go for a number of players as well, including the most consistent player this season, goalkeeper Martin Dubravka who has kept us in a few games as well.

But for me our most valuable player has been one that has come good in recent weeks and he’s one I’ve never particularly rated. He’s pretty one dimensional, can’t tackle and up until recently doesn’t score or create much.

That player is Jonjo Shelvey.

He scored in the draw against Manchester City and the wins over Sheffield United and Southampton. He had a hand in the first goal against Bournemouth, scored one and helped create the other two in a 3-2 win down at West Ham. In total he has five goals this season while helping create many more either directly or indirectly.

Like I said earlier, a team needs it’s most effective players IN the starting line up and since Bruce has belatedly added Shelvey back into a misfiring team, goals have arrived from both team and individual player.

When everyone is fully fit, this is the side I would be starting with:

It’s blatantly obvious that we are best set up with a back five, as the flat back four is a recipe for disaster.

Paul Dummett and DeAndre Yedlin offer a variety of defence and attack as the wing-backs but to be honest, you could switch each for Javier Manquillo or Jetro Willems on their respective sides and still have a good balance. You can pick any of our centre backs for the middle three but I feel Jamaal Lascelles, Fabian Schar and Florien Lejeune are our best trio.

But one thing is for sure, while he remains in this rich vein of form, Jonjo Shelvey must play. Alongside Isaac Hayden we could have a good mix in there, which unfortunately means it’s hard luck for the Longstaff brothers. If anyone in the middle of the park dips in form or work rate, then either Matty or Sean will be bang in there.

As ever, it’s up front where the priorities lie.

If Andy Carroll can last long enough, I feel it would be silly and negligent on the Head Coach’s behalf to NOT play both Andy Carroll AND Dwight Gayle. Saint-Maximin does get in as well behind them but if he doesn’t improve then either Matt or Sean will be bang in there. With both of them up top and Saint Maximin just behind, it may just enhance our chances and pay dividends.

It certainly can’t be less productive than what has gone on so far this season, in the name of that ‘front foot’ football that Steve Bruce has said he was going to implement at Newcastle United but has yet to materialise.


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