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The 2016/17 and 2021/22 Newcastle United Championship squads look kind of similar…

4 months ago
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The international break has given us the opportunity of a…break, from Steve Bruce and his relentless efforts to set new records at Newcastle United.

The NUFC Head Coach is so devoted to this quest, he has repeatedly said that no matter how many matches he loses / fails to win, there is no way he is resigning (and missing out on a £4m pay-off).

Mike Ashley is refusing to sack Steve Bruce (and pay him the £4m) and indeed has no intention whatsoever of sacking Bruce with his contract still having over 15 months to run and Steve Bruce having shown his ‘loyalty’ to him (Mike Ashley).

So it now looks like every chance that the season will end with Steve Bruce on a remarkable run of two wins in the last twenty nine matches.

Then heading into the Championship, Steve Bruce remaining to see out his final year of the the three year deal.

The club are feeding stories into the local media saying that with money tight due to the virus impact, Newcastle fans shouldn’t expect much, if any, money spent on new players this summer AND that is if NUFC avoid relegation!

So, fair to say that if relegated, we can expect a major sell-off of anything Mike Ashley gets a half decent offer for, leaving us with…

Well, actually, I think what we could be left with in terms of a Newcastle United Championship squad for 2021/22, would look very familiar…

These are the 14 Newcastle United players who made most starts in that 2016/17 promotion season (number of starts in brackets):

44 Dummett

41 Lascelles

40 Ritchie

38 Shelvey

34 Clark

34 Darlow

28 Hayden

27 Diame

26 Gayle

25 Perez

24 Colback , Anita

21 Yedlin

15 Atsu

As you can see, nine of the fourteen with most 2016/17 Championship appearances are still at Newcastle United, it would have been ten if Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce hadn’t insisted on giving Yedlin away, in the middle of a relegation battle. Indeed the seven with the very most starts in 2016/17 are all still in this Newcastle United team / squad.

Back in 2016/17, Newcastle United scored an impressive 85 goals in 46 Championship games, this is who scored them:

23 Gayle

12 Ritchie

9 Perez

5 Atsu, Shelvey, Daryl Murphy, Gouffran

4 Mitrovic,

3 Clark, Lascelles, Diame

2 Hayden

1 Yedlin, Mbemba, Hanley

There were also three own goals but of the 82 actually scored by Newcastle United players, remarkably 53 of them were scored by players still at NUFC now.

This is all pretty remarkable really, it is five years since that 2016/17 Championship season kicked off and I can’t believe there has been any other club that has been promoted and then stayed in the Premier League, which has changed so little.

It is almost as though Newcastle United under Mike Ashley is a team / club going absolutely nowhere, drifting along and players sticking around because it is easier for club and players to just crawl along without ambition and just making up numbers in the top tier.

If the worst happens and we are left with Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce still here, fair to say I / we can’t expect too many, if any, progressive moves in revamping / rebuilding the squad, especially if relegated and in the Championship.

This is the current Newcastle United squad (well on the club’s books, not including Willock who is on loan) and how old they will have turned by the end of next (2021/22) season:

33 Fernandez, Dubravka, Carroll

32 Clark, Ritchie

31 Gayle, Darlow

30 Dummett, Shelvey, Atsu, Gillespie, Lejeune, Hendrick, Wilson, Schar

29 Muto

28 Lascelles, Almiron, Fraser, Manquillo

27 Hayden, Murphy, Krafth

25 ASM, Woodman, Joelinton

24 Lewis, Sean Longstaff

22 Matty Longstaff

19 Elliot Anderson

CONCLUSIONS

What I take from the above, is that if Newcastle United are playing in the Championship next season, the basis of the team and squad will be players who were involved five years earlier in the previous second tier season.

I can quite imagine that if relegated, Mike Ashley will be keen then to give new deals to keep the likes of Gayle, Carroll, Fernandez, Atsu, Schar and Murphy at St James Park for at least one more season.

I think it is obvious though that players such as ASM, Almiron and Joelinton will be sold, with probably a few surprises leaving as well, such as possibly Hayden and Lascelles.

What we would be left with, is a very experienced / old Newcastle United squad and difficult to see that the class of 2016/17 would be anywhere as effective five years later, especially the likes of Gayle, Ritchie, Atsu and Shelvey, who between them scored over half of the Championship goals in that last promotion campaign.

These problems have been stacking up for years, with Mike Ashley completely undermining and refusing to properly support Rafa Benitez in the transfer market, then bringing in Steve Bruce who has been a disaster. A squad that has stagnated in many ways / areas, even though Mike Ashley has allowed over £100m in net spending on players since Bruce arrived.

Problems not dealt with and indeed then becoming even bigger ones the following year(s).

Just imagine then if Newcastle United got promoted with an ageing squad decreasing in quality as I have outlined above, just think of how much work would need to be done and changes made to give a chance back in the Premier League.

Very challenging times ahead and disastrous times a real possibility if Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce continue at Newcastle United.

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