Squad Improvement – A Tricky Business

Can the team pull through?

Can Newcastle make the step up this summer?
The low point of relegation seems now a distant memory with Newcastle going from strength to strength ever since, but we still find ourselves a bit light in terms of quality in depth.

As with any club, accumulated injuries over course of a season mean the squad is as important as your first eleven, and although we have some decent players as back-up, some are realistically not good enough to continue our progression in the future.

Even the most optimistic of supporters will admit our league position has exceeded all expectations and with a strong finish we could well be in the mix for a European place, but personally I want that to be the case every season, not just when we have a hot season.

For this to be a realistic ambition every season, we do need a stronger squad, and hopefully we see more Graham Carr gems and quality signings come in over the summer to replace those who move to pastures new, but strengthening a squad can be a tricky business.

Unless you are a Man City or Chelsea, with money burn and wage bills through the roof, it can be difficult to keep players happy while they sit on the fringes of the first team waiting for their opportunity. In some positions, injuries mean they get decent game time, but in others they may not see much at all, and even those that do may get a taste for it and become unhappy with warming the bench again.

Danny Guthrie is a good example of this. No doubt the lad is a decent player but the taste of first team football along with his age means he is not willing to slope back into the shadows and could well leave in the summer to be an ever-present in a Premier League side.

So without offering huge wages or the guarantee of Champions League football and the push for two domestic cups, opportunities for those on the fringes may be somewhat limited until we find ourselves in a position to excel in four competitions.

This can make life difficult to significantly strengthen and more often than not teams can find themselves replacing rather than improving, much like Everton and Aston Villa have done during the years they found themselves finishing under the Champions League contenders.

Newcastle’s steady progression could be halted somewhat by the same situation and we could find ourselves simply paying out to replace the likes of a Danny Guthrie and others of similar standard to those they replace rather than making that next step up and becoming a genuine Champions League contender.

Hopefully this is not the case and Graham Carr can work his magic again. The confirmed positive for the summer is Mike Ashley’s intention to invest heavily in the reserve and academy set-up so we should gain more quality in depth in that regard, but whether these players would be ready to come into a Premier League side if needed is not a certainty. Time will tell.

The level of investment in the first team could depend on attaining a European position and if achieved will also make life a lot easier in terms of ability to sign quality players, but if Europe is not achieved this season, could we see Newcastle’s progression stall?

Some of the signings we made over the past couple of years would suggest not, but we have relied heavily on Graham Carr and his team unearthing diamonds in the rough. To improve to Champions League standard, we will need a healthy mix of players like that and proven names, and I’m not so sure we can compete with the competition just yet.

Certain players have been linked, the most recent and well known of which being Jan Vertonghen. Other players on the Newcastle radar would be the likes of Douglas Teixeira, Junior Hoilett, Mapou Mbiwa and Benjamin Corgnet. By no means proven world class as yet and I would expect we would have a chance of signing any of the aforementioned, but we will have competition.

If we did sign players of that standard, would they be guaranteed first team football? Would they want that guarantee? If so, would we lose players who become back-up? On the latter, I would like to think not but I expect we would.

Scouring the globe for the next big thing is obviously a great thing for the club and buying younger players means they will be content to come in, develop and await their chance, but anyone coming into their mid-twenties or anyone with a growing name in football will no doubt want significant playing time.

I pray for Europe and subsequent investment to make life a whole lot easier on Newcastle and help take us to the next level but if it is not achieved, I hope we can still attract players of quality in a summer that could be littered with big team signings.

Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs will all want to improve significantly on this season. Man City will no doubt spend to solidify their position as Premier League and Champions League contenders and in-turn Man Utd will have to improve to keep pace.

Newcastle have barely put a foot wrong since returning to the Premier League and it is exciting times for supporters, but I think the rejuvination project has come to a pivotal crossroads now, and really hope we don’t go the way of Everton or Aston Villa.

Interested in what others think. Can we compete for big name signings? Can we hold on to players? Or will it be a case of replacing rather than improving for the next few seasons?

62 thoughts on “Squad Improvement – A Tricky Business

  1. must always be careful that when strengthening the squad we don’t lose the spirit of the team when players are replaced, thats why its taken man city a while to become good cus the players didn’t connect and thats also why they were easily knocked out of the CL where team spirit can mean everything, look at barca for example (not a the mo though as they’re a shit) the majority of the team grow up together throughout the youth academy, they are friends and so connect when it comes to football.


  2. Getting into europe is essential imo ,we have no chance of attracting proven quality without it. We may be lucky and get some decent raw talent curtesy of Carr like in previous windows if the European dream eludes us ,but that’s always gonna be a long term prospect rather than an immediate slot in. With regard to players being happy to sit on the bench.I don’t see it as a problem if we are offering European or poss CL in the future, as if they leave us are they anymore likely to feature as first teamers at another club in Europe/CL. Don’t forget if we can offer European football and what with our huge fanbase and fantastic stadium why would a player want to leave, money would be the only factor really and if they are that way inclined then there’s not alot you can do .


  3. Andy -Not bad bit frustrated to be honest. Having a time of it trying to get a code for my Almera car radio . Changed the battery and lost it πŸ™ Nissan want Β£75 to strip the dash and retrieve the code(it’s not a pop out but fixed) aargh.I’m selling it in a month as i got to get a feckin Fiat Doblo to take my lads wheelchair .His new one don’t fold up, and i’m loath to spend the cash. I love my car never ever let me down in 8 years, gutted i got to sell and really really hate Fiats πŸ™


  4. I would rather have quality over quantity everytime!!

    Arsenal are a prime example, they’ve 2/3 class players then a lot that aren’t quite good enough for that top level.

    I would rather have 11 good players than 22 OK players, also with no European football to offer/use people in, we can’t a)attract them b)afford them to come and warm the bench.


  5. Also, the FA have come out and shown why we have been charged..

    That dirty MaClean tackle that was far too OTT has caused us BOTH to be charged!


  6. Kimtoon – check Sky Sports/Chron mate, they’ve charged both teams and cited the MacClean tackle specifically.


  7. not fair that they’d be charging us as well, danny was just annoyed that he’d been sledgehammered so told him that he was a dirty so and so, krul intervened to prevent confrontation, but it was mclean who wanted to get into it, so only he should be in trouble.


  8. Keith very interesting points made there, we need big improvments and we need Euro footie, to try to convince players that we are moving in the right direction πŸ˜‰


  9. i think..
    4th – arse on 73 points
    5th – chelski on 64 points
    6th – liverpool on 61 points
    7th – us on 56 points

    at end of season.


  10. Andy @14 -Your’e telling me πŸ˜† I’m assured the Doblo actually being a van is very good ,it’s the cars that are crap. Here in Bristol all the taxi drivers drive the Doblo so they must be fairly reliable ,just look shite πŸ˜† . What iwill not do is buy a red one ,else i may as well stick a black ‘n’ white cat on the front dash πŸ˜‰
    Toonarmy87@12- Man that sucks ,bloody MacClean and his dirty tricks ,and still MON reckons they wern’t the provocative side. 😯


  11. kimtoon
    you could buy a red one but you should never paint white pinstripes on it other wise it’ll just be a black cat 😯


  12. Andymag@18- Aargh ,god no ,never . It looks good in white mind ,maybe some black stripes could work πŸ˜€


  13. The owners don’t want to compete for big names transfer fee and wage too high. So the best thing is to try to keep our best players (Europe will help to keep it) ans second try to improve with some strategic transfer in the key places. For me Simpson need a replacement or put Santon at right back and buy a good left back, a centre back with PACE will be crucial, Marveaux will be back next year but we need a winger to.
    And I wanna a good striker with other carcateristics than Ba and Cisse, I wanna a guy of the style of Aguero upfront who can play alone upfront. Me I will sell BA in the summer If a club is ready to pay a big amount of money like 20 million and more because I’m sure next year he will score much less goals this year He was really on fire and we have a guy like Cisse who has almost the same caracteristics.


  14. Hba39 ;

    Yanga-Mbiwa to replace Simpson

    Oussama Assaidi to play as a winger

    Bas Dost to play as a striker.

    Sorted !


  15. If we can hold onto all of our current starting 11 then I would defo want quality cover for Tiote, Ba and Cisse. We just never looked convincing with them out of the team (more so Ba and Toite as Cisse wasn’t with us, but you know what I mean). Particularly Tiote because as hard as Perch tried he just didn’t offer quite enough cover in midfield.
    I think we need to clear some of the fringe players and allow the likes of Tav, Streete and other younger players the chance to prove themselves


  16. defo defence needs a fair bit of work imo,there was a fair bit of talk of pieters covering c/h,lb,well from what i saw of him last wk he pulled up nee trees for me i know it was only one game but it was a showpiece game
    expected a lot more of him 😑


  17. I’d maybe consider a bid for Messi – as long as he understands that he’d not be guaranteed a start! 😯 πŸ˜†


  18. Batty – he’s quicker in slow motion than I am really time and seems to keep control of the ball as well which is not an easy thing to do like


  19. The starting 11 needs a LB, assuming 4-3-3
    Santon, Saylor, Colo, LB
    Jonas, Tiote, Cabaye
    HBA, Cisse, Ba

    The bench needs more game changers
    GK, M’Baiwa, Douglas, Marveaux, Vuckic, Shola, Striker

    Squad depth more prospects please. Plus a surprise.


  20. i feel like a right bellend now after stating earlier that barca are shit at the mo 😳 something about messi being the greatest player is on itv4 at 10. :mrgreen:


  21. Messi scored 5…holy crap. May be watching this game tonight if they re-show it.

    ANDY, it’s ok…everyone knows that Barca are just lucky and rig the games…they aren’t really that good…uhhhh…


  22. For Next Season, I’d Love to have that Team:
    Debuchy Saylor Coloccini Santon
    Barnetta Cabaye TiotΓ© Jonas
    Ben Arfa
    Demba Ba

    Bench: New GK-Douglas-Raylor-Guthrie-Hoilett-Vuckic-CissΓ©


  23. I know we are not man u or Chelsea or whatever, but wouldn’t it be nice to have the cover they have that allows them to give players like giggs / carrick / Hernandez etc the weekend off, especially when there is a midweek game coming up. The top teams have sufficient quality of cover to allow this to happen whereby at the minute we just can’t do this. Our version is like leaving smith out the squad and having perch on the bench as replacement – no offence but it’s just not in the same league. Problem is, we don’t have (at the minute) a strong enough first team in every position never mind squad. Desperate for jonas to have a rest, he is quality, always puts a solid shift in but looks out on his feet after two minutes


  24. Andymag if you don’t like to watch Barca demolish teams who do you like to watch mate? Messi is unstoppable when in form like today. His ball control is unmatched. I know you’re joking mate but this lad is 1 of the top 3 or 4 players of all time. By the end of his career probably the best to have ever played. I thought Best and Cruyff were fantastic but this boy is setting new levels of excellence every season. Pele may have matched him in his prime but that’s about it. πŸ˜‰


  25. Hmm dunno about that like. The one huge difference between Cruyff, Pele, Maradona and all the other greats with Messi is that the true greats done it on the biggest stage of them all – a World Cup.


  26. Toonsy, what prevents me from being able to post a link? I’ve been trying to submit a link to the Telegragh article regarding Newcastle turning a profit. But I am unable to. Is it me or the site…or both?



  27. I dont know if you have to subscribe to the Telegraph which would probably prevent you linking it on here.

    Messi needs to do it at a WC, but Pele and Maradona also had great teams behind them and they were the focal points of those teams, and perhaps made them look great. Messi has that at Barca, but the Argies arent all that great at the moment. So does that stiffle him, or does Barca flatter him? You can do what you want with stats but 50 goals already this season isnt too shabby. Would like to see him try the EPL though. La Liga is far too slow and easy in a 2 team league for him to shine. Would he do as well for Chelski, or Man City?


  28. Messi is the best ever IMO .

    Can you imagine him on cocaine like Maradona had to take to perform. ? 😯

    It makes you wonder if Maradona took sports enhancing drugs throughout his career.

    Messi is not as powerful as Marodona, probably cos of the above, so some of Maradona’s goals were more explosive, but Messi is equally as skilful if not better.

    Beardsley for me though. πŸ˜†


  29. I’m doing a collection for the graffiti artist who was fined Β£100 for scrawling st James back on the walls of the ground.

    Anyone interested in donating please?


  30. NorCal Toonfan
    March 8, 2012 at 00:11
    Toonsy, what prevents me from being able to post a link?……….technical ability? πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜†


  31. Nobby

    I was talking to Messi last week in the Peregrine.

    Some stars get in there like.

    There was a whole host of characters there.

    Not only Mr Messy but Mr Arrogant, Mr loud and Mr Treat.

    I was well at home. πŸ˜†


  32. Barry @28
    He looks a terrible player mate. In an entire highlights package he had no goals no assists. Never made a decent pass. He just put his head down and dribbled.


  33. @JJ

    Who’s Barry 😯

    He looks a class player Batty.

    So JJ, would you still sell Barfa in the summer like I seem to recall you saying?


  34. We add just three or four to the equation to what we have already would make such a difference….


  35. Strategically, I think we’re going to see a big shift from the club now, although an unexpected European place may change it a bit.

    I don’t think we’ll see many – or any – 1st-teamers bought except as replacements. This emphasis on the academy is likely to be instead of that approach, which was fine while we needed to stabilise prem status, but won’t get you into the CL while solvent. If we’re in Europe, it does mean you need a handful of extra top-quality players for depth, so perhaps they’ll continue for another season.

    From what I can gather, they’re looking to ‘widen the funnel’ by upping the capacity of the youth system, dropping more talent in at the top so we get more 1st-teamers out of the bottom. For me, that’s much more satisfying than just buying the talent in. It’s also likely to see more local lads in black and white, which I’m all for.


  36. agreed sharpy17, tav new rb next season simmo on bench …. but i feel young street is 2 seasons away yet needs to do a stint in confrence to see how he handles competetive football. if so a season long loan at a league club would be great.


  37. I could handle a deal for Carrick, straight swop with Guthrie ?
    He was by far there best player at sjp this season.


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