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Opinion

Newcastle United and their 30 something team for 2021/22

5 days ago
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Newcastle United have been run in a totally shambolic way under Mike Ashley.

That is not exactly headline news but I want to concentrate on one particular shambles under this owner.

Under Ashley’s orders, as he waited hopefully for a takeover to happen, the club ended up with countless players set to be out of contract, indeed the majority of the first team squad.

Having neglected the issue for so long and letting a desperate situation build up, with no takeover set to happen in the short-term, Mike Ashley then looked for a short-term solution.

Instead of having a proper refreshing of the Newcastle United first team squad, Ashley instead has given the go ahead for countless players to be given contract extensions. Having waited so long and ending up in such a dangerous position, it has meant many of those older players have been able to negotiate longer contracts than were ideal for the football club.

It has meant a very much ageing squad is in place at St James Park AND many of them with a decent number of years still to go.

What does Mike Ashley care though? He no doubt is pinning everything on getting a Saudi deal done, bank the higher than true value of the club cash, then the ageing squad on too long contracts will be somebody’s else’s mess to sort out.

We have also seen new signings contribute to the worsening problem of an ageing squad, once again Mike Ashley willing to do whatever it takes to get through short-term, as he is counting on not being here medium or long-term. Ashley has gone from telling his minions that only young players with potential future higher resale value can be signed, to now welcoming many older signings, often on free transfers but higher wages.

I am not claiming that zimmer frames will be the new fashion next season on the pitch at St James Park….but it isn’t ideal by any stretch of the imagination.

This is a potential team Newcastle United could put out next season, with their ages in brackets of how old they will be by the end of the 2021/22 season:

Dubravka (33)

Schar (30)

Fernandez (33)

Clark (32)

Lejeune (30)

Dummett (30)

Ritchie (30)

Shelvey (30)

Hendrick (30)

Wilson (30)

Gayle (33)

There were also alternative 30 something options to play in goal with Darlow (31) and Gillespie (30),.

This is of course slightly improved due to the imminent departure of Atsu who would have turned 30 next season, Saivet would have been 32 and Carroll 33. Although we are awaiting confirmation still from the club that Carroll is indeed definitely leaving.

Similarly, whilst the media claim extensions are now in place for Schar, Dummett, Fernandez and Gayle (and Murphy as well), nothing said at all by the club yet to confirm or deny.

Obviously, whilst having so many older players in your team / squad doesn’t exactly suggest you will have a speedy team on the pitch, off it, it also is common sense that having so many older players in your squad brings the value of the squad right down, in terms of assets you might potentially sell in order to finance players you do want to bring in.

This point is especially pertinent at the moment, with various media claims that Mike Ashley will only allow around £10m-£12m to be spent on signings this summer, unless extra money is raised through sales…

Interesting to also look at what the ages will be of the rest of the current Newcastle United squad by the end of the 2021/22 season:

29 Muto

28 Lascelles, Manquillo, Fraser, Almiron

27 Hayden, Krafth, Murphy

25 Woodman, Joelinton, ASM

24 Sean Longstaff, Jamal Lewis

22 Matty Longstaff

19 Elliot Anderson

Looking at the younger players in the Newcastle United squad, Anderson is set to be loaned out and Matty Longstaff probably too, the younger Longstaff not going to be under first team consideration by Steve Bruce anyway.

So realistically that leaves the youngest part of the squad as the likes of Jamal Lewis and Sean Longstaff, both set to turn 24, neither set to be first choice next season I feel.

After that we are looking at ASM and Joelinton as the only two outfield players who will be under 27 by the end of next season. Freddie Woodman set to be elsewhere next season, either on another loan hopefully, or sold to generate cash.

To be honest, when you look at the entire Newcastle United squad, there are very very few players who you would be able to generate even half decent cash for, never mind major funds that could help transform the team / squad significantly.

It has been a bit like my wife and diets, Mike Ashley constantly looking for the miracle solution.

Newcastle United have had their French era, then there was buying young players from various European leagues in the hope they would increase in value, now it appears the buzz word for Mike Ashley is ‘Experience’…

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