It’s been a while since the last one in the series but this next instalment, as you may have guessed, is a look at the left back spot and what the future holds for a position most see as the weakest in our squad.
The reason for the individual articles for every position is not an attempt to drag it out but rather an interest in what people have to say about specific positions rather than having a general view on the squad and certain players futures.
As well as opinion on who is here in the now and who may go in the future I think it will open up some debate on targets for specific positions as the rumour mill has been starting to kick into gear over the last couple of weeks. Anyway, mini-rant over, lets get back to it.
The left back spot has been one filled to date by Ryan Taylor with many people seeing Davide Santon as the man to eventually take the spot full time. As you can probably tell from the last instalment, I don`t believe that to be the case.
I can see Ryan Taylor moving on in the next couple of years along with Danny Simpson going even sooner than that, leaving Santon as the undisputed number one choice for right back, but where does this leave us at left back?
Slim pickings to say the least in terms of proven players. In fact we currently do not have any recognisable left back at the club. This would pass the baton to emerging talent and with Paul Dummett still with a lot to learn that leaves former left winger Shane Ferguson as the only choice.
Personally I have a lot of faith in Ferguson but it is based on the little I have seen of him and his performances for the reserves which in truth is a completely different level. There is no doubt however if he keeps progressing as he is he will be a real talent in the future.
As mentioned Paul Dummett is another promising left sided defender, able to play at full back or in the centre. The fact that Pardew gave him the opportunity to go to America when we got injuries says enough about the lad to suggest he has the potential to make the step up some day, but not just yet.
The only other option worth mentioning for the immediate future is Tamas Kadar. Strangely left without a squad number at the start of the season but since staying fit and becoming Captain of the reserves it is obvious Tamas seems to be turning it around although you have to wonder why he couldn’t break into the team during our recent defensive injury crisis. After all he is seen as a centre back more than a left full back.
So where does this leave us? Go with Shane Ferguson? I think it is a bit too soon. The transition from left winger to defender takes time and chances are he would be left wanting defensively until he gains more experience. That leaves only one option as far as I can see, go into the transfer market.
I think all in sundry will agree that we fully expected a left back in the summer and Eric Pieters seemed to be the prime candidate to fill the void left by Jose Enrique. Obviously that deal didn’t materialize before deadline day much to our, and I think his, dismay.
Logic dictates with Pieters coming into the last six months of a contract if we go back in January we could get him on a cut price deal and worst case scenario agree a pre-agreed contract to take him to Tyneside for free in the summer.
Pieters seems to be the most probable but there have been one or two others linked whose names we may see crop up over the coming month or so. Liam Ridgewell has already been linked and with Birmingham in a financial mess despite good form chances are he will leave by the summer.
The fee being banded about for Ridgewell is in the region of only £1 million, which definitely sounds like a bargain, but does he fit the bill for Newcastle? Able to play at both left back and centre, a definite plus but at 27 I can`t see him being bought as any more than a back up in defence to be honest.
To my knowledge only two more links of substance came from the summer regarding left backs, those being promising French talents in Cheikh M’Bengue and Aly Cissokho. To my knowledge both are playing relatively well this season and definitely fit the bill of what we look for in a player. Whether they are still being looked at or open to a move I don’t know.
I haven’t had the chance to watch much French football or keep up with the contract situations on either since the summer. Maybe someone more in the know could fill me in on the latest. One thing is for certain, I would expect a left back in January and if not most definitely by the summer. It all depends what kindof defender we are looking at? A versatile one or specialised ones.
What that will mean for the future? Further improvement to our defence and very promising back up in Shane Ferguson and Paul Dummett.
Next instalment, the one I have been dreading, a look at our options at centre back!