Do we have more squad depth than it appears? (Part one)

Out with the old and in with the new.

The heart of our defence, but is it enough?
With the transfer window beginning to get into full swing, we seem to have some fans developing a sense of panic as to whether Newcastle United’s board are going to bring in the quality additions needed to continue the progress shown by the club over the past few seasons.

There has been a lot of media furore around the possibility of Andy Carroll potentially coming back, the need for defensive strengthening, with some saying our squad is far too thin in quality and numbers, but just how much strengthening to we really need?

Well I’m going to take a look at it and see, as you may have guessed by the title, whether we we have more depth in our squad than at it may appear we have at first glance. It’ll take me more than one article to get through the whole squad, but here is the first one which is going to focus on our goalkeepers, defence and defensive midfielders,. Basically everything we need to stay solid at the back and give those up front the platform needed to go and win a game.

In goal: Tim Krul, Steve Harper, Rob Elliot

Tim Krul was outstanding for Newcastle last season. Finally given the number one jersey, he proved his skill becoming one of our best players. During pre-season many felt that he wasn’t quite ready, but it took those few starts and a run of games to give him to confidence to show what he is capable of. I believe he will get better with time.

As backup, we have a very experienced Steve Harper, who despite getting on in years, still looks more than adequate when needed, and Rob Elliot who Alan Pardew has much faith in.

All in all, we are looking well covered in goal.

Right back: Danny Simpson, Ryan Taylor, James Tavernier, James Perch, Davide Santon and potentially Mathieu Debuchy.

The hope amongst most supporters is that Debuchy will sign on with the Toon before then end of the month. He impressed at the European Championships for France, looks a real handful in attack and will offer us a right back who can overlap and be far more assertive in possession than Danny Simpson.

What I cannot do however, is complain about having Danny Simpson in the squad. Defensively he is very sound and statistically was one of the best right backs in the league last season. If he could work on his skills on passing and ball possession I believe he could even be challenging Debuchy for a start.

Ryan Taylor isn’t the best defensively in my opinion, but he is a decent option as cover and has some good weaponry in a quality delivery and good long throw depending on the tactics we deploy. James Tavernier is a youngster who has done his time in the reserves, impressed while gaining first team experience on loan and now needs to get his chance in the first team at Newcastle.

Not forgetting that Santon can play at right back, and so can Jonas if needed, with six good options and a potentially class international signing looking likely, I’m confident the we will be well covered at right back this season.

Left back: Davide Santon, Ryan Taylor, Shane Ferguson, James Perch, Jonas Gutierrez

Davide Santon had a rough start in his first season in the Premier League, but began to blossom as he adapted towards the end of the season. He looked adequate defensively and excellent in attack. While perhaps lacking a bit of confidence, Ryan Taylor filled in at left back, and while he never really filled me with confidence, the statistics of our defence record of which he was part of the back four were there for all to see. He did alright in defence and offered something going forward. He also chipped in with some crucial goals.

Jonas found himself playing at left fullback for much of the season, covering for Santon and Taylor. He certainly didn’t disgrace himself and he seems happy to play there when needed which bodes well for the team and squad depth.

Again a youngster coming through the ranks, Shane Ferguson has done a decent job when giving a chance at a first team appearance. He may seem a bit light weight but never pulled out of a tackle and looked very energetic of decent going forward. James Perch, who is our “Mr Versatile” could really cover any position in the back four, and is other option on the left or right of defence.

That’s five fairly decent options.

Centre-back: Fabricio Coloccini, Steven Taylor, Mike Williamson, James Perch

Captain Coloccini was named as one of the best two centre backs in the league last year. A quality player, that reads the game superbly and mops up everything. Steven Taylor’s passion and determination and power has proved a perfect foil as together they were the best defensive pairing last season until Taylor’s injury. In which lies the problem. Will he stay fit?

Mike Williamson is a brute in the air and very useful in the squad when playing teams like Stoke that will bombard you with long balls. However should he find himself first choice due to an injury against a top pacey passing team like Arsenal or Man City, he could be a serious liability. James Perch is an option in this case and he did have some brilliant performances, but I still feel it is crucial we bring in quality in the centre back position.

This for me though, is by far the area which needs strengthening the most, both in depth and quality.

Defensive midfield: Chiek Tiote, Yohan Cabaye, Medhi Abied, Jonas, Gael Bigirimana, Dan Gosling, James Perch

There has been mention of Newcastle looking to add Vernon Anita to strength in this area, but for me, we are looking good already and should maybe think about strengthening other areas first.

Cheik Tiote is our main man. He shields the back four better than most in the league. Sometimes, however, we may play with two in front of the back four, in which case Cabaye, Abied, Jonas, Gosling and Bigi are all perfect foils. They have great energy, are strong in the tackle and can pass well from the back.

I also believe should Chiek get injured that James Perch has proved to be excellent at putting his foot in and breaking up the play. However, all six players are capable of performing the role. I believe we are very strong here, and we have a perfect mix of experience and youth.

Looking at our defence, it is clear that we need to add a quality centre back. However, for me, the left back position is also an area I feel needs some stronger competition. It would be even more preferable if that person could play a role at left back if needed to cover the lack in quality of depth. Eric Pieters, Mamadou Sakho someone in their mould. Would be perfect.

In summary, we probably need to bring in two players. A quality attacking right back or left back which Santon playing on the other side, and a quality centre back, that can fill in at fullback if necessary. What I also feel is crucial, is that we don’t overload these positions with quality experienced cover. This may not seem to make sense, but I feel it is more beneficial to have a quality starter, with versatile cover, and then a potentially quality youngster coming through.

In order for him to be given a fair chance to grow in skill and confidence, he will need to be playing and therefore should be at least second or third choice for the position in question.

Are we covered in the department?

Centre back: No. We don’t have one which would make someone like Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa (23) or Mamadou Sakho (22) ideal options< Left back: Yes. Davide Santon (21) and Shane Ferguson (21).
Right back: Yes. Davide Santon (21) and James Tavernier (20).
Defensive midfield: Yes. Medhi Abied (19), Dan Gosling (22) and Gael Bigirimana (18)

So, do you agree that defensively, two quality additions would be enough to see us looking very strong?

93 thoughts on “Do we have more squad depth than it appears? (Part one)

  1. Or was it one sending off that was the equivalent of 3/4 red cards? Not sure really, just what i heard


  2. Fans @71 He got sent off for violent conduct and ended up punching the ref and stuff , I think you can get it up on you tube.


  3. …he pushed 3 people and they all went down like pussies. Reminded me of Di Canio and Alcock in 1998.


  4. To be fair, he had a good right to go off it, that first fecker was rolling about for feck all…..maybe Douglas took it a bit far like 😆


  5. Rodz….That’s right up there with Fawlty Towers, Porridge and Only Fools… as one of the old time comedy classics 😆


  6. FANS, Aye ,but what stops you? Your common sense that’s what. If you look at what Di canio did it was nothing really but it was wrong and got him a long ban and affected his club as he was a top player. That’s the thing you need the common sense to go with the desire to win, controlled aggression and all that stuff, no loose canons. 😉


  7. Yeah, Willo, Colo, Taylor and Tiote can lose their heads, we don’t want to add to that surely 😆

    Still, part and parcel of defending I suppose…


  8. Good point Kim@85 – I suppose a foul’s a foul, and discipline is key – whether violent or not.


  9. All the comments by Stuart and Kimtoon are valid but you can only become a premiership player by playing in the premiership and if the youngsters are never given a chance isn’t that going to ruin their confidence too. We frequently brought Smith on and Butt when surely some of the youngsters would have done no worse. What are the reserves for?


  10. We are going to be playing a lot of matches this season – 2 cups, the league and Europe.
    The way to give the youngsters experience is to field a team of youngsters in the league cup matches, say.
    We don’t want to be having to rely on them in important matches for long spells if we get big injuries to first teamers such as what happened to Taylor last season. That’s daft. If they do make the grade its fine, but if they don’t it could badly effect our season.


  11. Been out to pull up the weeds in frustration at the lack of signings ,now that’s controlled aggression. 😀


  12. hey guys… Long time since posting.

    I see you all think that we will continue playing our 4-3-3 system in the new season.. Is their a reason for this?

    I really dont think Pards will go out with same tactics as last year and if we dont get a striker in this window it is a clear sign of how we are gonna play i think.

    I will prefer a 4-1-3-1-1 now.
    If debuchy arrives it is clear that our attack will come from the backs and we will have no need for wings.
    Tiote will be even more defensive and cabaye will have a more ball distrubution role.
    The last midfielder will work defensively like Tiote and support when needed going forward.

    barfa will play behind the attacker, maybe even get a free role.

    Think it makes sense . . . I think Marv also can play off the attacker like barfa.
    Fuck orbetan…


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