Hi all, I’m the guy who claimed and still claims, to be one of the biggest fans of Newcastle United here in Indonesia (a country in South East Asia, fyi).
This is my fourth article on the Mag, if I’m not mistaken.
After a number of years preferring to stay in the silence when Mike Ashley repeatedly wrecked my favourite team’s hope (My last article was four years ago), now I get my enthusiasm back to write this article.
During this summer transfer window, almost every day we can read transfer news about new players linked with our beloved Newcastle squad. Compared to the last few seasons, this is a drastic change of behaviour. The arrival of new owners and the amount of funds made available for doing the transfers surely contribute to this.
At first, I personally felt very eager to read all those rumours of wonderful players linked to Newcastle. These players surely will be an upgrade of our current squad, I thought, but in the last couple of weeks, I got overwhelmed to read those transfer rumours and rather skipped them. My reasoning is that most news publishers didn’t know the reality of the transfer state inside Newcastle. I think most publishers create the news based on assumptions and gossip, since there are no insiders they can use as a reliable source of information. The second reason is that I believe that some agents are trying to use the name of Newcastle United to leverage the value of the player(s) they represent to get a better deal. Remember Ekitike and the last one, Sesko?
The fact is that so far, we get three new wonderful additions in our squad. A solid England international goalkeeper, a proven left full-back, and a potentially world class central defender. If you ask me at the start of last season, are those additions enough, I surely will answer yes, but if you ask me now, my answer will be no.
Why? Before the new owners arrived, my hope for Newcastle is just that we can stay afloat in the league. I am already accustomed to the mocking from those glory hunters. But now, based on our performances from the second half of last season, my optimism grew and I think that with the right addition of players, our squad at least will be able to battle West Ham for the Europa Conference League qualifying position. And after watching our latest friendly matches, coupled with the unwelcome news regarding the injury of Shelvey, and our last league match against Forest, I think we have four positions in the squad which are in need of upgrading.
First, the current squad is still unbalanced in the flanks. Maxi is too dominant in the left and even though Miggy is quite good in his movement and work-rate to ease the defensive burden on Trippier in the right side, I still believe that Miggy’s best position is not in the right wing. He is too one-dimensional and not a dribbler like Maxi, which means we rely too much on Maxi on the left to hold and keep the ball. It seems that Ryan Fraser has lost his acceleration after mostly being used as a benchwarmer in the last couple of seasons. Let’s be honest. Jacob Murphy is not and never will be a premier league level player. He has speed but his positioning and end product is miserable. Matt Ritchie is able to play as right winger, but already lost the acceleration he once had and he isn’t getting any younger.
Second, with the use of 4-3-3 formation, Shelvey injured and Hayden already loaned-out, we are short in the defensive midfield position. If we want to unlock the full potential of Bruno, I do think his best position is in the right of the midfield three. Still remember his assist for Miggy against Palace last season? Also, his body is not strong enough to be a midfield destroyer. His vision and attacking sense will be of more use if we push his position further forward without giving the burden of a defensive midfielder. If the funds needed to be spent for other positions, we can train Sean Longstaff to be our Busquets. He already has the height, stamina and upper-body strength. And his lack of pace won’t be exposed too much if he is repositioned as a defensive midfielder.
Third, Callum Wilson’s injury record is quite alarming, therefore I think we need to add a third central striker. No offence for Wood but he already did his part last season. We need a more mobile central striker with a better finishing and acceleration than Woods if we want to add more goals. Young and already proven in the top five leagues will be welcomed with both hands.
Fourth, Schar’s goal against Forest is already a contender for premier league’s goal of the season, but he is not an agile central defender. If we want to play high line defence to press more, we need to add an agile right-sided central defender. Also, the captain’s performances are declining in the last few seasons and frankly speaking, we need to move him out. We already have Fernandez as benchwarmer. And with his experience, status and behaviour, in my eyes Trippier is more than capable to be installed as a permanent captain to replace Lascelles.
Lastly, I believe with new additions needed, we also have to move out the dead wood in the squad to fulfill the max quota of the registered players. Karl Darlow, Jamaal Lascelles, Javier Manquillo, Jacob Murphy and Matt Ritchie for me fall into this category of players who need to be moved out permanently. And we need to loan out Matty Longstaff and Kell Watts so they can gain more experience, the way Elliot Anderson did last season.
There is still time until September 1st. Let’s hope Eddie Howe, Dan Ashworth, Steve Nickson and the scouting team can add the best players we can get. Howay the Lads.