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Opinion

‘Even at 35, Newcastle’s former midfield playmaker would walk into this moribund team’

4 weeks ago
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Well, after our latest defeat on Tuesday night we have reached a crucial point of the season.

With the transfer window set to snap shut on Monday and the club’s unwillingness / inability to spend any money on improving the team, we have hit a crossroads.

We have now seen the team, hopelessly mismanaged by Steve Bruce and his band of merry misfits, consistently stink out the Premier League and reach an incredible 11 defeats out of the first 20 games this season. Just read that back – ELEVEN defeats out of TWENTY. He’s overseen five wins so far this season so that means he has now reached the unenviable position of having lost more than double the amount of games he has won.

We can point to the defence being leaky when once it was nigh on watertight.

We can say our attack is pitiful and doesn’t score enough goals.

Both statements are true but the problem in the team itself at least, lies heavily in midfield.

Put simply, we create nothing.

We have Jonjo Shelvey coasting around as if he were doing 18 holes on the golf course, both Matty and Sean Longstaff deteriorating by the week, whilst we have the “ghost” that is Jeff Hendrick missing in action week after week.

Only Isaac Hayden can be classed as a decent midfield man and even he can’t be expected to create attacks while defending all the time and that’s when he’s not being deployed at various positions in the back line.

I’ve said before that Mike Ashley’s decisions never make any sense from both a footballing point of view nor a financial one. On one hand you can often level that he’s too tight, other times you can say he wastes money in the wrong areas. Hiring Steve Bruce was a case in point. Paying Sheffield Wednesday £4m for a serial failure and then saddling him with a £43m carthorse in Joelinton has to rank up there with the stupidest of stupid decisions.

Upsetting the apple cart in June 2019 when allowing competence and security to leave the club and bringing in total incompetence and gross negligence has found us at this very point where relegation isn’t so much a roll of the dice as nailed on if results and current form persist.

It’s quite telling that we’ve just played our best 45 minutes of football arguably since Bruce came to the club and we still lost, plus I’m not confident that it was Bruce’s decision to play that way in the second half last night against Leeds.

To temporarily solve both problems, at least until the summer, requires an outside of the box piece of thinking and business.

Forget bringing in Graeme Jones for a reported £250k – deck chairs and Titanic spring to mind. The solution requires an influx into the team as much as the dugout.

I remarked to someone earlier today that you could do no worse than making a phone call to France and get Yohan Cabaye, who is currently a free agent, in until the end of the season.

Offer him £1m until the end of the season and get some creativity back into our midfield and drop Jonjo Shelvey and Jeff Hendrick. I was only HALF joking when I said it.

Even at 35, our former midfield playmaker would walk into this moribund team.

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