Friday, May 24, 2013

View from the Home End: Where do we go from here?

With the club yesterday confirming their commitment to stability and a collective rolling-up of sleeves to ensure our return to a top ten finish next season, the question for all is what to do over the summer. 

As Ben has already highlighted, last year we opted to stick with what we had, with the sole addition of Vurnon Anita. Evidently that policy, combined with our increased workload, failed to pay dividends. However, without the burden of European football, and following a large influx of players in January, are we likely to add a significant number of employees to the payroll? 

From a playing point of view, Steve Harper and Danny Simpson are off to pastures new. With Rob Elliot firmly established as Tim Krul’s understudy and with Jak Alnwick waiting in the wings, I suspect that we’ll be unlikely to add a like-for-like replacement for Harper. 

Similarly, with Mathieu Debuchy established as our first-choice right-back (and in the expectation that he’ll start to settle down) there is a vacancy for reserve right-back. That hole is one which Perchinho, Vurnon Anita, Davide Santon and James Tavernier are all capable of filling and on that basis I doubt we’ll be in the market for a right-back. 

Assuming Santon stays put, we have left-back cover in the form of Massadio Haidara and Spidermag if necessary (and Shane Ferguson too, although more about him later). 

At centre-half, the big question to resolve is the future of Sideshow Bob. Purely on a playing front, our alarming dip in form when he injured his back last season shows his importance to the team, with Saylor and MYM yet to convince as a pairing. If he is to return to Argentina (and I expect that’s a theme which will run throughout the summer), then we'll need a replacement and one which might require us to go outside our normal recruitment strategy and instead add an experienced head with a reduced resale value. 

On the back-up list, Perchinho is again available to fill in, as is Mike Williamson, although given the latter’s drop down the pecking order I would expect him to be moved on over the summer, probably to one of the newly promoted Premier League teams or a side with ambitions to get promotion from the Championship. If Williamson is to leave, then a further understudy at centre-half would be nice. 

In midfield, the question remains over whether we’ll be able to keep hold of our star players (even if at times last year they didn’t sparkle nearly often enough), and without wishing to be too pessimistic I’ll be very pleasantly surprised if both Dreamboat and HBA remain with us on 1st September.

With Master T and Sylvain Marveaux both, at times, doing much to advance their causes last year our midfield reserves don’t look too bad, although the Silver Fox still needs to find an effective way of deploying them and at times we’ve looked devoid of inspiration. To that end, a new creative player/winger would certainly be a good move to replace the hopefully soon-departing Obertan Kenobi. Equally, time may have run out for Shane Ferguson to show his long-term future lies with the club, and given his erratic performances last year Sammy Ameobi may find he’s also cleared his locker for pastures new before the summer is over. 

Up front, the most important job is undoubtedly to sit Papiss Cisse down and explain the merits of being onside (albeit he was wrongly penalised on a number of occasions last season). Similarly, with Big Lad’s contract entering its last year, and with doubts that it’ll be further extended, he may find he’s on his way. That would leave Goofy and Adam Campbell as back-up for Cisse and as such a new striker (to effectively replace the void left by Demba Ba) is a necessity. If Big Lad does go, then two new strikers wouldn’t go amiss. 

So to summarise, as a minimum I think we need a centre-half, a winger and a striker, although further replacements may be needed if and when players are sold. 

One of the reasons we did so well in 2011-2 was the amount of time the Silver Fox spent drilling the back four. Clearly, the demands of Europe meant that training time was lost last year, and indeed placed a greater burden on his time. As such, I wouldn’t be surprised to see us look to bolster our backroom staff to help share the burden and bring some fresh ideas.

It could be a very busy summer on Tyneside this year. If it's as quiet as last year, then it would suggest lessons haven't been heeded and next year's prognosis could be very grim indeed.




Anonymous Fatash said...

I have decided to stop knocking Pardew and would like to help by recommending the following books to him:- The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Soccer Basics and the Beginners Guide to the English Premier League. I am not buying them for him as he gets a little bit more than my state pension.
I hope he does better than I expect next season.

4:41 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Come on guys. I have gone from an avid fan to a luke warm supporter. Reason? Well they just ain't pretty to watch anymore. What happened to the adage, if you score 3 we'll score 4. Wouldn't you bee turned on by that? Newcastle have just become way too drab to watch, and fat boy Ashley is just in it for business, the only way to succeed in the Premiership these days is to get in a Billionaire, not a fat millionaire looking just to secure his own future!

9:37 pm  

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