Having made a few recent appearances for the Toon, the spotlight beams down on 22-year-old Dan Gosling. The former Plymouth Argyle and Everton talent has reached somewhat of a crossroads in his Newcastle United career, so lets have a little look at him.
Back in March, Gosling’s Gateshead-born agent David Hodgson suggested the reason Gosling has so far failed to break into the side is because he ‘tries too hard’ to impress. He claims Gosling has struggled with injury problems and relocating from Merseyside and as a result has tried too hard to impress manager Alan Pardew with his all-round game instead of concentrating on his strenths – his movement and scoring prowess around the opposition box. Hodgson described Gosling as a potential David Platt type player and stated that Newcastle would be mad to let him go.
Since then Gosling has had pretty much his 1st full pre-season since joining the Toon and impressed during our 1-1 draw with Fenerbahce. This term he has started 4 games, 3 in Europe and 1 against Manchester United in the League Cup recently. He has played in attacking midfield, central midfield and defensive midfield during those games. He has also made the bench for 3 Premier League games, but has not graced the pitch with his presence.
It could be argued that his performances so far have been nothing special, but then that could well be a reflection of the football that has been played by our squad as a whole so far, however If the lad is not consistently playing in his favoured position, then it will be hard for him to show what his best form actually looks like.
Another issue is his injury record. Considering young Dan signed for the Toon in good time for the 2010/2011 season, he has only 22 first team appearances to his name. His knees are not as strong as they ought to be and he seems to suffer niggling injuries as a result of this core area weakness. Of all his appearances in a Black & White shirt so far, he has only 1 goal and zero assists to his name.
Now I know there is much more to football than goals and assists, but considering his agent is selling the lad as the next David Platt – should we not expect to see a bit more attacking intent from him?
Well, his injuries have not helped. He sat out pretty much his entire debut season with us due to injury. The only exception being the 1-1 draw with our arch rivals Sunderland. Since then has had to settle for scraps in the first team around niggling injuries, lack of match practice and simply being stuck behind an impressive 1st team trio of Cabaye, Ben Arfa and Tiote in the pecking order. Add to that the fact the games he has played has seen him feature in just about every conceivable midfield position apart from left winger and you begin to understand just how hard it must be for him to build up form.
Peronsally, I agree he plays best as an attacking midfielder. He’s not full of tricks like our Benny, but he has a powerful stride, gets into good positions in the box and knows how to strike the ball around the periphery of the opposition area. The trouble is getting him into those positions regularly. Pardew’s preferred 4-4-2 system does not appear to cater for a dedicated attacking midfielder. This explains why Ben Arfa has ben stuck out on the wing and Gosling has been stuck on the bench.
We have so far been lucky with results thanks in large to Demba Ba finding form. However, with large sections of fans clearly not convinced that Cisse and Ba can form a successful partnership together in this system and performances looking ropey I have to pose the question – Why does Pardew persist with 4-4-2? Many onlookers commenting on this fansite highlight the lack of goalscoring input from our midfield, but the reality is the manager’s system does not seem to allow it.
If the formation was changed, or at least made a bit more fluid then maybe that would give Ben Arfa and Gosling the freedom to get into dangerous positions and influence games more often. However, until that happems then I cannot see how Dan Gosling can ever make an impact in Toon colours. With Gael Bigirimana now steaking a claim in the central role, spaces in the traditional midfield sense are limited. With the press beginning to link clubs such as Aston Villa with his name I think Gosling will find himself with a decision to make on his future before long.
As always with these articles there will be a pole on the subject, but asides from that I’m keen to read in the comments section your thoughts on why Dan Gosling is not reaching the levels touted for him when he signed. Is it simply a lack of ability or is there a clear link between his so-so performances and Pardew’s team set-up?