The reason I’d like to bring this subject up is because of the Alan Pardew’s insistence that he has been tasked with a few challenges this season by the board.
The first thing that Pardew must do is guide the team to a top half Premier League finish. The second, a rarity at Newcastle, is to have a fairly decent cup run.
How realistic are these challenges? Do we have a squad capable of competing on all fronts? In my humble opinion I feel we have enough to get a top ten place especially as we were minutes away from it last season. However a decent cup run is never easy as we all know and don’t really need reminding of. Ahem, Stevenage. Sorry!
To have a decent cup run you need a decent squad and a decent balance between the squad so that you can shuffle the team but still keep the same brand of football and team spirit and commitment that would be needed, say, in a Premier League game.
This got me thinking; we are involved in the Premier League, FA Cup and still in the Carling Cup this year. Normally that is the order of importance to most top flight clubs. But do we have the squad to compete in all of them?
Now this is where I was interested to see how ‘deep’ our squad is and the results are actually quite surprising.
I have split the squad into three teams; one each for the Premier League, FA Cup and Carling Cup. I know that these teams will chop and change and it is likely we will use 25 players for the three teams, but I wanted to highlight that, if needed, we could call upon lesser experienced ones. The 4-4-2 formation seems to be prevalent at the moment so I’ve stuck with that for the time being.
Premier League: Tim Krul, Danny Simpson, Fabricio Colocinni, Steven Taylor, Davide Santon, Gabriel Obertan, Cheik Tiote, Yohan Cabaye, Jonas Gutierrez, Hatem Ben Arfa, Demba Ba
FA Cup: Steve Harper, Tamas Kadar, Mike Williamson, James Perch, Ryan Taylor, Sylvain Marveux, Dan Gosling, Danny Guthrie, Shane Ferguson, Leon Best, Shola Ameobi
Carling Cup: Rob Elliott, James Tavenier, Steven Folan, Tamas Kadar, Paul Dummett, Peter Lovenkrands, Haris Vuckic, Mehdi Abeid, Michael Richardson, Sammy Ameobi, Nile Ranger
Food for thought isn’t it? This is without loanees such as Kazenga LuaLua and Fraser Forster, but generally I feel that this is the best 33 in the club. As you can tell the Carling Cup team will probably not get to far and arguably the FA Cup side would struggle against tougher opposition but, this made me realise that we have a squad packed not only full of promise but youth and talent. I have even left out a full Faroe Islands international and an England u-19 international. Exciting times surely?
Back to whether we can really challenge for a cup… We will no doubt mix and match the Premier League team and FA Cup team together and I honestly feel that our best chance of silverware is the Carling Cup. If Birmingham can do it then why can’t we? We have the depth of squad to compete in the FA Cup at the moment but once injuries strike we may find it harder and harder especially as the bigger teams seem to want to win the FA Cup more than ever.
If we managed to achieve a Carling Cup trophy and finish 10th that would be a very good season indeed. We have to be realistic in our attempts this season but looking at the way we can potentially play there is no doubt that a Carling Cup challenge is viable one. FA Cup perhaps not so much, but we could always reach the quarters or semis and with a bit of luck, who knows?
As ever we are full of hope but for the first time I actually feel we will take the chance to get silverware seriously and there is no reason why it should be beyond our reach.
What do you think?
Thanks to Liam Southern Toon for sending this in for us to discuss.