Fantasy football – A discussion about tactics, squad strength, and transfers.

Hatem Ben Arfa.

Hatem Ben Arfa.
Benny could be an important player for us.
This is a guest ‘blog from Premandup which I think will create a good debate. Basically it takes a look at what our best team is, and how to employ those players effectively. It also takes a cheeky look at transfer targets that we could look at during the summer. Here goes…

Well the transfer window has shut and now we know what our squad will be for the remainder of the season.

As it stands, our best XI players, in my opinion, look to be:

Steve Harper, Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini, Jose Enrique, Cheik Tiote, Joey Barton, Jonas Gutierrez, Kevin Nolan, Hatem Ben Arfa and Shola Ameobi.

Obviously there are some people who would prefer Steven Taylor to either Simpson or Williamson, but that is down to personal preference I guess. Stephen Ireland has not been included as he is yet to earn a place, and obviously Shola is now out for the forseeable future.

For me, the first question is how to get the best out of them? The defensive unit pretty much picks itself with regard to formation as it’s likely that we will play a flat back four with Tiote playing the central defensive midfield holding role. Agreed? Now we just have to try and get the best out of the front five.

The problem as I see it is that there is only one striker, no wingers and one natural left-footed player in there. Playing with a conventional 4-4-2 with Jonas Gutierrez and Joey Barton on the flanks, Kevin Nolan in the middle and Hatem Ben Arfa hanging off the striker leaves only one player playing in their natural position. This just doesn’t make sense.

A potential solution? Well we could play with a diamond midfield that will see Gutierrez and Barton play a bit narrower with a licence to roam out wide if they need/want to. That will mean that Kevin Nolan plays a more advanced role, which seems to suit him better and allows him to pop up and score his goals. This looks a bit more interesting.

You can add to it aswell. Take Hatem Ben Arfa and package him as the second striker, but withdraw him to a deeper role near where Kevin Nolan is, and you have two attacking midfielders supporting the lone striker, whether that be Leon Best, Nile Ranger, or Peter Lovenkrands.

This would then allow the centre of midfield to be dominated by three more defensively minded midfielders, or box-to-box type midfielders which would give the back four the protection they need and would mean we would line up with a 4-3-2-1 formation, or 4-1-2-2-1 formation if you like. Whatever it is, it’s similar to what Arsenal and Chelsea both play.

Now we need to take a look at back-up players. Does our very limited squad have cover for every position? Let’s have a look.

Goalkeeper: Tim Krul, Ole Soderberg and Fraser Forster. Granted the latter is on loan at Celtic currently, but I think we are alright here. Does Alan Pardew though?

Defence: James Perch, Steven Taylor (Simpson or Williamson), Sol Campbell, Tamas Kadar. We could perhaps do with a left-back in the summer.

Midfield: Danny Guthrie, Dan Gosling, Haris Vuckic and perhaps Shane Ferguson? Can he play on the left wing? Perhaps we could do with a new player there in the summer.

Attack: Leon Best for Shola Ameobi? Nile Ranger for Kevin Nolan? Peter Lovenkrands for Hatem Ben Arfa? Maybe Stephen Iremand for Ben Arfa?

I think with that we have a squad that will last us through to the summer and secure us survival, but we do need to strengthen in the summer if we are to avoid another season of struggle next year. Who would you sign though? I’d go for:

Cheikh M’Bengue – A left-back from Toulouse.
Ozan Ipek – A left winger/inside left midfielder from Bursaspor.
Yousef El-Arabi – A right sided attacking midfielder/forward from Caen.
Yevhen Seleznyov – A striker from Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk.

If we sign all of those it would cost roughly Β£20 million which would leave us a lot of room for wages and roughly cost what Alan Pardew says our budget is for the summer.

What do you think?

66 thoughts on “Fantasy football – A discussion about tactics, squad strength, and transfers.

  1. Does anyone else think we should just get rid of all our strikers baring Ranger and get three new ones in?

    I don’t think they inspire much now, and they’re hardly the future of the club are they? Get rid, get some more young and hungry lads in. Connar Wickham is a name that screams out


  2. What about a couple of names we have heard battered about…Ricky Van Wolfswinkel and Ola Toivonen? Didn’t hear much about them in the transfer window, not that I actively follow either of them (try Ed Harrison for that)
    Both young hungry strikers, Ola in particular is supposedly pretty good in the air.


  3. I think he already has Hitman. My mate today really did make me come round to your way of thinking-Ashley’s final finger to the fans could well be him walking off into the sunset with the 35 mill in his pocket.


  4. ILM

    Lovenkrands is the only one I would get rid of in the summer, along with Xisco of course, (fingers crossed). There’s no point getting rid of Shola and Best. We aint gonna buy 3 strikers, the price of the buggers these days. One really good one to complement what we’ve got would suit me. Along with that French winger and a Campbell replacement. I would like to see how Kadar does at Huddersfield before we start throwing money at a reserve LB.


  5. I Love Mike
    Posted February 4, 2011 at 2:32 PM
    Does anyone else think we should just get rid of all our strikers baring Ranger and get three new ones in?


    Yes. πŸ™‚


  6. I think best n mclovin will go ilm and two new strikers will be brought in , Yeah wickham would be a good shout , also that dutch fella van winlke ( i think ) saw him play against cespool in the europa league n looked good and we were linked with him before.

    I think a few players will go in the summer. Think campbell smith xisco raylor best mclovin could all potentially leave . maybe not all of them but i think a few of them will.

    Im hoping a few of our acadmey players will be able to step up to the 1st team squad. Hopefully the likes of vuvkic and frguson come through.

    A new right back n a new winger is a must also for me.


  7. Agreed John. Wickham and VWW or similar player would be good additions.

    Then a young LB,
    Young holding MF
    RM- ready to play from day one
    And possibly make Ireland permanent if he works out


  8. If he walks off with Β£35 million he’ll still be Β£100 million out of pocket πŸ˜‰

    Unless he can fond another idiot who’ll rush into a deal and buy the club for nigh on Β£300 million?


  9. A lad on Mad (as you all know I spend some time on there πŸ˜‰ ) who gets things right quite often reckons the Carroll deal includes….

    Β£30 million up front
    Β£6 million in 12 months time
    Β£5 million various add-on’s
    25% sell on clause.

    If that is true it would mean Carroll would be worth Β£41 million, and if he gets sold for that from Liverpool, another Β£10 million.

    £51 million 😯 😯 😯


  10. Sorry read the wrong post. 50% sell on fee 😯 😯

    But he did say that any chance of a sale is unlikely at that level.


  11. Does that then mean if we buy him back we would get a hefty discount?
    We could try get him in the summer and pay his real value of Β£15 million, thenget 25% off which would bring it down to Β£11.25 million.

    Lets hope Carroll knocks out Stevie Gerrard and is forced to move on πŸ™‚

    Would you all have him back in a few months?


  12. Royston Drenthe- Real Madrid

    Kyle Naughton- Spurms

    Ricardo Quaresma- Besiktas

    Yanick Djalo- Sporting Lisbon

    Connor Wickham- Ipswich

    I would also like to tie up Ireland but i doubt any of these will come off, Expect Reo Coker, Carlton Cole and Nicky Shorey… πŸ™„


  13. Moreno – Would I have Carroll back here? Nope. Not now.

    B&W – Right, if Ashley was to walk off with the Β£35 million or whatever, then he would have to find a buyer that would be willing to pay for the club, and for his loan. The total of that is nearly Β£300 million (Β£284 million I think?).

    When he bought the club it was a solid Premier League team. Forget the financial mess as that was unknown by many at the time. The price back then was Β£135 million.

    Now we are no longer a stable PL team. We are just another team trying to survive this season in the eyes of investors, but we do have potential which would cost a lot capital to realise.

    Ask yourself this: If you bought a car 3 years ago for Β£5,000, and that car had a load of breakdowns whilst you had it which cost you another Β£5,000, then you tried to sell it, do you reckon you would get Β£10,000 for it?

    Basically, Ashley would need to find someone who will pay miles and miles over the value of the club to enable him to clear all of his debt so he can walk with Β£35 million.

    It ain’t going to happen, unless there is a romantic Geordie oil tycoon out there?


  14. Two things.

    1. Anyone else hear the rumour that we’ve been looking at Hulk (Givanildo Vieira de Souza) as an AC replacement?

    2. Word in London is that the Rooskie is planning a summer sell-off. Who would you buy from Chelsea?


  15. I’d buy quite a few of them, but they would never come. Partly due to location and partly doe to the fact that they have been on such extravagant wages at Chelsea that I doubt we’d be able to come anywhere near close to them.


  16. CC I doubt Pardew would buy anybody from that list, maybe Connor Wickham…..

    I expect Pardew to buy mostly English players and doubt he will buy too many foreign players as formation and the team setup suits English players (as was also pointed out by Carlos Tevez)…

    The problem with English players is that there are very few who are good and those who are good, they would cost millions….

    And the list of expected players that Pardew might look to buy, but Ashley wont give him money for those players ;-)…. So in a way I am not worried about Pardew buying PL rejects….

    We really need someone to buy players for Pardew, coz I am not sure whether he is a good scout or not πŸ™


  17. Not sure Toonsy, I was just going back over that article and those links to see myself. He has put in 268 million that he would obviously want back.

    But as this mate of mine was saying, he was facing down the barrel a year or so ago, of losing 100-150 million. Now he may well just want to get out alive, and not make a loss and may be a bit of profit 20-30 million.

    The club now is in a much better situation than it was last time out, much lower wage bill, more streamlined, with a good youth system up and running and most players now on longish contracts, an ongoing fan base and TV revenue, with no hidden debts. This means it can potentially make money going forward.

    That, it was suggested to me, is a very viable business option to people who have got 200-300 million, it is a business that can now make money, and they would be able to sell it for the same or more in 5-10 years time. Or even better if it is play thing for some super rich bloke, it is an easy one to pick up and run with.

    And that I am told is the cold hearted reality.


  18. i think we should raid the lower english leagues and the dutch/french leagues. There are a lot of gems in those leagues dying to get to the prem and won’t demand a ton of wages or big fee. It served us well so far with Tiote and Ben Arfa, and before that Bassong.


  19. Moreno
    Posted February 4, 2011 at 3:38 PM


    What you smoking like? He’s a joke, runs around trying to impersonate a footballer, and he doesn’t even do a good impression!

    I would have Anelka, no probs. Experience with some youth.

    Van Wolfswinkle


  20. From a business perspective, and we’ve got to think that is how Ashley is running it, then it was suggested to me again that there is absolutely no reason for Ashley continue owning us any longer. And that for sure this time any sales pitch/ portfolio will be of a much higher standard than last time. That is when he really does want to sell it. πŸ˜‰


  21. Given the monumental mistakes that “Laural & Hardy” make on a regular basis.Who would want to join this shambles.Even more important who of those we have got will want to stay?
    Not a large omission. Where is R Taylor in your piece?


  22. To be honest, I reckon Pardew will be sticking to the English market this summer. It’s all well and good throwing out names of young foreign talents, but most I’ve seen so far are only doing well in overseas lower leagues. Bit of a gamble. We don’t have money very often these days, and now that we might get a bit, we should spend it on proven goods.

    There are a few current English based players I reckon could do a job for us. I won’t speculate on price or budget, just the players…

    Johan Elmander
    Charles N’Zogbia (I’d take him back!)
    Seb Larsson
    John Carew
    Stephen N’Zonzi
    Matt Phillips
    Chung Yong-Lee
    Salomon Kalou
    Seamus Coleman
    Clint Dempsey
    Martin Kelly
    Micah Richards
    Michael Johnson
    Niko Kranjcar
    Roman Pavlyuchenko
    Chris Brunt
    Gianni Zuiverloon
    Gary O’Neil
    Matt Jarvis
    Jamie O’Hara

    A long list I know, apologies. None of them stand out as spectacular. But… all of them we have a fairly realistic shout of getting, either because they aren’t getting enough game time (Kranjcar, Pavlyuchenko, Richards, Kalou) or because they are at ‘lesser’ clubs or could be going down. All available for less than 10 million probably as well, and are all solid, good Premier League players, couple of younger ones in there too. I think getting a couple of names in off that list would make our squad a hell of a lot healthier looking.

    We should keep looking elsewhere too, but for every Tiote/Ben Arfa there’s three Luque/Gonzalez/Guivarch types floating around as well!!!

    Let me know any thoughts…


  23. B&W – Thing is well two things,, and this is the inherent flaw in your mates logic, is that rich people don’t get rich by buying things that they will make a loss on.

    Β£300 million would value us at the same as Liverpool, and their income is double, if not more than ours…..

    Also, and this is opinion only, I think the days of bankrolling clubs will end under those new financial rules. Obviously it depends how they work and how effective they are, but that is the plan anyway.


  24. Kalou,

    23 apps in league and FA cup combined with 10 goals and a few assists.

    bear in mind he hardly ever starts a game and is mainly used as a sub…..our strikers are really smashing the 10 goals mark aren’t they?

    Oh wait…no they aren’t……


  25. shinjou, but finally wouldnt it be Pardew taking the decision :-(.
    In Jan we were mostly linked with English players, the kind of players Pardew likes.
    Though, I would be happy to be proved wrong.


  26. Ryan Taylor, yes heard that name somewhere.? Footballer?


    Also could have included those out on loan or more of the youngsters, but more interested in looking at how to get the best out of our best 11.

    Having sorted our formation who are the back-ups, and thereby identifying a few weaknesses which need to be addressed in the summer.


  27. Been in West Ham today talking to a guy I know about our relative luck with the transfer windows, and the chat got round to Pardew. His opinion was that he’s a good manager, better than Curbs, but has his problems with a few players, refusing to play them eg Konchelskis.


  28. Perhaps now AC is gone and with Ben Arfa Gosling and Ireland We may start playing the ball more on the ground.I’m sure this would suit Best and Ranger more.It could all be a blessing in disguise πŸ˜€


  29. Basically fair enough Toonsy, but he reckons Ashley got into it thinking he could make quite a few million out of us and enjoy a bit of football. It all went pear shaped and was facing a big loss, that loss has been turned around and he isn’t likely to make much more out of us in the next year or so.

    So, in that sense he says wealthy people, like gamblers, have got to know when to get out. So, even if he makes a small profit, breaks even or takes a small hit, it is better than what he was facing and so it may well be the time to cut his losses. Plus, in the football context if he doesn’t spend all that money next window his personal life could get a whole lot worse. There is no real reason to hang around.

    Rich people know when to get out. So, the question is will anybody buy for around 200-220 million then? Or packaged another way can Ashley’s debt be refinanced to be a club liability again and then sold for not much, then with a debt that could be steadily managed.

    Possible I would say. Anyway, the other discussion going on here is more fun, we’ll see what happens. Cheers Toonsy.


  30. We should keep looking elsewhere too, but for every Tiote/Ben Arfa there’s three Luque/Gonzalez/Guivarch types floating around as well!!!
    True, but there are plenty of english players that dissappoint as well. Just becuase a player does well at one club, in a particular system, with a certain supporting cast doesn’t mean he will have the same success elsewhere.

    I don’t think there is any doubt that Ben Arfa, Tiote and Bassong are the best bits of business the club has made over the past couple of years. And all much cheaper than their english equivalents would have cost. I’m not saying don’t buy english, just saying that the best deals seem to be elsewhere


  31. Some canny shouts being made and some players that I’d love to see at the toon but, most of the players that I’ve seen named I’ve also seen rated between 12 and 20 mil. I think the days of Ashley sanctioning a 10+ mil transfer are gone.


  32. All this talk is irrelevant really…if we get relegated!!! Maybe we could persuade Marlon Harewood to come back


  33. 2strikers,2wingers,1RB is all we need in Summer transfer window.

    1striker+1 winger must be marquee signing to “appease” the NUFC fans.

    Roman Pavlyuchenko can be one of the Marquee signing striker.

    Udinese winger Alexis will be leaving the club in the summer, according to his agent, leaving Europe’s top clubs on high alert.

    Sanchez can be another marquee signing winger.He may cause lots of money. But we got enough. πŸ™‚


  34. Yeah, I know we aren’t going down….
    How can you take a comment asking Marlon Harewood to come back seriously? Actually striking options really are that bad! Lol.

    One thing you or your mate hasn’t considered China, mobile tv revenue. Soon the major mobile operators are going to be streaming games to next generation handsets which will be worth millions (more than AC) to each club involved. It’s going to be a serious deal apparantly for PL clubs though it’s certainly not immenint. Ashley is aware of this and won’t want to miss out on a slice of that pie, the greedy f@ck@


  35. One thing I’ve never understood is whyNewcastle haven’t got their own TV station? Look at the money it makes. It would be a no-brainer for me….


  36. Toonsy… why’ve I got an email asking if I wanna play naked twister 😯 ❓ …………………….ah got it, it’s addressed to Jersey G πŸ˜†


  37. Rich – You should have known it wasn’t for you. I know Pop-up pirate with pork swords is more your game πŸ˜‰

    Match preview up πŸ™‚

    JG – I’ll resend it.


  38. Fookin ran ootta papers for me route like n now ahm sittin on me arse, with nowt do.. drank aal me ‘shine too, kna. Got pissed n now ah reckon ahm gannin ower the watta to pay a visit to them dorty bindippers like, n knock Judas’s mincey little bollox off.. πŸ‘Ώ


  39. You may well be right Moreno, Ashley certainly won’t want to miss a big earning trick. Where as I certainly get a bit out of my depth when the talk goes business centric.

    However, just not sure what he’s in it for anymore, but if he’s going to hang around he is going to have to start putting some money where Lame Arse’s mouth is, or there really will be a mass exodus of season ticket holders and players. We’ll see.

    And yeah Newcastle tv out here in China would be bloody great.


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