Now first off I realise that writing this article is akin to treading on very shaky ground, mainly because the transfer window is still actually open.
Nonetheless, I was motoring along the M62 earlier (stunning scenery by the way – a rather nice looking lass came and sat on the front seat, which was nice) and my mind started wandering. It wasn’t wandering onto dirty thoughts of deviant acts, but instead I started thinking about Newcastle. Like I do quite often actually…
I was thinking about our transfers thus far and about how they (dare I say it?) could potentially improve our team. It’s kind of linked in with this theory of “one in and one out” transfers aswell as the 25-man squad ruling so perhaps it’s worth pondering.
Anyway, as you’ll have no doubt read, Alan Pardew has basically said what we’ve known all along – that Ashley wants the club to run itself. Call it tight, stingy, business or whatever you like, but the fact is that it is the hand we’ve been dealt by the man at the top so until he changes I guess we just have to roll with it and make the best of it, or raise enough money to buy the club ourselves. Hmm, maybe I’ll chat about that another time…
That kind of leaves us in a difficult position really. To get to the top you have to splash the cash, much like all the teams at the top have done such as Chelsea and Manchester City. They got to the top simply by throwing enough cash at it, and it worked. We tried and failed ,aside from a couple of seasons, but such is life.
Being honest it’s hard to break the top four. In fact I’d say that it’s pretty damn difficult to break the top six which effectively rules out Europe for near on three quarters of the Premier League. It can be done though, with luck admittedly.
Now we aren’t going to be lavishing large cash amounts unfortunately, which means that we aren’t going to drop players that can play in the 25-man squad out of the running when we don’t have to. As shite as Alan Smith is, the fact that he is on £60,000 a week will ensure that he has a place in the squad until he leaves at the end of the season.
To be honest, it’s crap, but it does kind of bring me neatly to my point. My point being that the majority of players who have left have been replaced with what look to be, on paper at least, better players. Here is how I see it.
Yohan Cabaye v Kevin Nolan – Now I don’t think many people will deny that Nolan’s goals were important for us, but if you take them away from the equation (and when Andy Caroll left they were taken out of the equation) you aren’t really left with a lot.
I would hope that Nolan’s goals will be replaced partly by Cabaye, but also partly by other members of the team. Marveaux has an eye for a goal, and Obertan (if he officially signs) likes to have a pop whilst Hatem Ben Arfa will be playing in a more advanced role once he returns. That kind of thing – spread the love, or goals in this case.
What we have in place of Nolan is a player who can chip in with goals AND work for the team. It was the second part of that which Nolan sadly lacked. Personality matters not when you have an opposition midfielder coasting past you on the counter-attack. Secretly I bet Cheik Tiote is pleased that he’ll have some reliable help in the middle of the park.
Sylvain Marveaux v Jonas Gutierrez – I feel bad for this one as I do like Jonas and feel he works hard for the team, plus there is the fact that he hasn’t actually left yet, if he does at all, or even if Marveaux is a replacement for his whilst Jonas shifts to another position.
However it’s his lack of any meaningful and consistent end product that is the most common complaint when people talk about Jonas.
In place of him we have a dedicated left-winger who can beat a man, have a shot or even cross the ball. Isn’t that what you want from a winger? I’m sorry but the argument of winning free-kicks kind of loses its strength when you don’t have anyone on the end of them.
Gabriel Obertan v Wayne Routledge – I’ve read a few people now saying how Obertan is just another Routledge. Wrong. He is far better than Routledge – I’m far better than Routledge for crying out loud! Obertan has the potential to be even better once he gets a run of games under his belt. He wasn’t so highly rated in France for nothing you know!
In terms of position it’s a like for like replacement. Both are right-wingers, both have pace, but the difference is that Obertan can do something with it if given the chance to shine. Again this is based on Obertan completing the formalities and finalising his move from Old Trafford early this week as has been reported.
Demba Ba v Andy Caroll – This is where my argument kid of falls down. To me Andy Carroll was a one-off. Do I think Ba could replicate Carroll’s goalscoring? Well yes, and the stats of his career say that he could. Ultimately a striker is judged on goals, but Carroll was different.
He was more than just a striker. He was a focal point, a worker, but alas I guess it matters not. I’d prefer to have Carroll over Ba in truth but ultimately it just isn’t going to happen. Obviously. What is needed (and we all know this) is another striker to help Ba and make a front pair that can rival what Carroll did for us. Okay maybe not in terms of physical strength and presence, but perhaps in a different, more mobile, more skillful way?
You see to me we’ve largely managed to improve on paper, which is great, but football isn’t played on paper, which is a problem. On the surface we have a better set of individuals, but will we end up with a better team as a result? Maybe eventually, but I wouldn’t put money on it happening straight away and that is where we could have problems as I feel that a poor start to the season will be enough to tip some fans over the edge, or even further over edge in some cases…
Anyway, back to my question. Have we improved?