NUFC’s lack of summer investment – a gamble that is backfiring?

Getting things right?

Lack of investment causing the problems?
There has been a lot of understandable negative reaction from NUFC fans after the Swansea and West Ham defeats.

Two home defeats against opposition we expect to comfortably finish above in the league this season is simply not good enough!

Blame has been placed in many areas, including the ownership, for not having properly invested in the summer transfer window despite our qualification for Europa League. I found myself asking the question, of whether I agree with this sentiment or whether I agree with others who say, that we should be more than capable of beating these teams with the players we do have at our disposal.

After much thought, I find myself leaning towards the former…

1. Investment was not made because the club wish to give the youngsters a chance to progress

At first I thought this may be a good idea, after all, what would the point of the youth system be if these youngsters are left to go stale in the reserves and never get their chance? But having seen the evidence so far, I feel there are better ways to allow the youth to develop.

Players like Shane Ferguson, Sammy Ameobi, James Tavenier and Gael Bigirimana have shown glimpses of great talent whilst making appearances in the first team, but on the whole, in my opinion, just haven’t quite made the grade yet.

Now while further first team game time may eventually see them come good, do we really have the luxury of losing points and vital league positions while they grow into players of consistent Premier League quality? Or are we better off loaning them out to other teams where they can develop and gain confidence without their inexperience costing us vital points?

Solution: Buy players who are ready for Premier League level and allow our youngsters to develop at other clubs. Allowing these players to develop is good, but not when it costs us crucial points when they aren’t quite ready to step up.

2. Weak links consistently dragging down the standard of play

Now, while I think even though we played crap against Swansea, I feel we still played better than we have in previous games where we managed to luck a point or three out of essentially nothing.

There were obvious poor performances from several players, but for me there are two players who consistently drag the others down with them, not through lack of effort, but because of a lack of ability to do the simple things that any player in a side chasing a European position should be able to do.

Those two players (or scapegoats) as some will call them, are Mike Williamson and Danny Simpson. Their weaknesses aren’t really just in their ability to defend but rather to play football.

Game in and game out I watch the two of them lump or chip poorly executed long balls from the back to the opposition, gifting possession away and leaving our midfield and strikers chasing scraps.

When the ball finds either Fabricio Colocini, Davide Santon and to a lesser degree Steven Taylor, we seem to play our way out from the back in a decent and composed manner.

We simply cannot afford to be gifting the ball to teams who have sussed out this weakness and pack their midfield to constantly win secondary balls and pressurize us when we have possession at the back because they know we will hoof the ball back to them.

If Williamson and Simpson aren’t punting long balls, they are passing back to Tim Krul, exposing his biggest weakness which is distribution. Sometimes even these back passes are underhit which puts us under even more pressure.

We have to buy players who allow us to build an attack from defence and then perhaps our midfield and strikers will be far more influential. The midfield seem to have stopped looking for the ball because they know it is just going to go over their heads.

Having two defenders who can’t pass makes us very predictable. While decent enough defenders, Simpson and Willo’sΒ  inability to play football, makes us very one dimensional.

Much the same could be said of our wingers. We are forced to play our no.10 and most influential player in Hatem Ben Arfa on the wing, where his talents are limited and he can be cornered and closed off because we don’t have sufficient creative quality out wide. This is ridiculous for a club aiming to qualify for Europe!

Solution: Buy quality to replace glaring weaknesses. Stop carrying players who the club’s ambitions have outgrown. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

3. Playing two strikers who want to play the exact same game

I think it has become apparent after almost a year of playing together that Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse simply cannot perform as a front two pairing in the centre of a 4-4-2 formation.

Both players are making the same runs, getting into the same positions and neither are the creative or target man type. They are goal getters and therefore both have a selfish attribute that tells them to shoot on sight. So why continue to play both together?

While Shola Ameobi isn’t my favourite player, he is a far better partner to either Ba or Cisse because of his ability to hold the ball up and pass. Unfortunately, his lack of pace and mobility also makes him very easy to mark, which means he is only really effective as an impact player because he rapidly runs out of energy.

Solution: Buy a quality striker who offers something different. Someone who is happy to play out wide in a front three, or someone who can hold up the ball and win aerial duels in a front two when playing 4-4-2. Perhaps someone who is willing to play “in the hole” and create opportunities for finishers like Ba and Cisse. (we already have this in Ben Arfa, which brings me back to the point of why is he being wasted on the wing?).

I suppose in order to do this we need to decide on a formation which suits the players we have. However, no matter what formation I look at, I see a glaring weakness in a least two positions on the field. This clearly tells you we are lacking in quality!

So to answer my original question… Yes! I feel we made a massive mistake in not investing in quality to replace weakness during the summer window. It was a gamble that most certainly hasn’t paid off.

In my view we need four players: a centre back, a right back, an attacking midfielder/winger and a striker, and yet, despite these glaring weaknesses, I can see us being linked to hundreds of players this January, making several “bids”, and at best seeing two cheap signings in and perhaps one out.

I guess time will tell…

95 thoughts on “NUFC’s lack of summer investment – a gamble that is backfiring?

  1. @Sharpy post:58:
    “But the fact is the likes of Cabaye and Cisse can play a lot better than they are now, where as Williamson can’t (IMO) ”

    What carries more weight in debate, stats or opinions? How do we measure opinions to come to a satisfactory conclusion?Surely everyone is allowed to express their opinions but because they are opinions we cannot test them without the use of stats.

    My point is Williamson has not been any worse than the likes of Tiote, Cabaye, STaylor, Jonas, Krul, Coloccini, Simpson, Cisse, yet time and time again everyone seems to fault him.

    We have the excuses that it is Williamson’s fault that Cabaye is not playing well yet the stats prove he is winning his aerial battles the most of any defender in the league, clearances he is doing his fair share.

    Look at the following link he is in the premiership best 11 according to:

    Scroll all the way to the bottom.

    You just make him your ‘escape goat’ πŸ˜† scapegoat when the fact is he is one of best performing players. I am no Williamson fan but I must acknowledge the facts.



    I haven’t had time to read the comments but its a good article JJ and I agree with your views.

    We must try Barfa as a traditional number 10 and persevere with him there.


  3. CC – πŸ˜† πŸ˜† this is what the world has come to man. My 3yr goes to a nursery where everyone gets a good boy sticker, nobody ever looses and they don’t call a misbehaving child naughty. It’s madness!!.
    You have just said he’d be 5TH choice – behind a fit Perch (who is poor at CB as well) – which is clearly acknowledging that he’s not good enough. Yet if people make that point he gets a raw deal.
    He’s just simply not good enough, nowt personal to the lad.

    Newkie – if last Jan is anything to go by then Pards may get around Β£10m to spend. Personally I’d say blow the lot on Yanga if we can get him for that. But I could see us more likely trying to get Debuchy and Douglas with that money instead. I also think Pardew may still have half an eye on Pieters as well though.


  4. Dave-I did mate, but I don’t start til the third of Dec. I’d been working there essentially for free on and off til I could apply internally for a post, stopped the freebie work once they gave me the nod for this and I’ve not had any other bitch work to do recently so here I am… πŸ˜‰


  5. sharpy

    Why exactly is that me acknowledging he isnt good enough ??

    He isnt good enough to start regularly hence why i said he should be 4th or 5th choice but that doesnt mean he isnt good enough to be in and around the squad in a season like this where we are stretched to the limit with injuries and suspensions.


  6. Michael – stats can be manipulated to show whatever you want them to mate. Too many people on this site are stat pissed. Let me just point out that I have never made Williamson my scapegoat – nor have I blamed him for Cabayes poor form. But the FACT is that all of the other players you have mentioned have played better than what they are now.
    In answer to your question, Fact carries most weight in a debate – stats and opinion are probably or equally value. For example, Edin Dzekos goal scoring stats are excellent this season, but it’s Mancinis opinion that Tevez and Aguero are better options – which one do you think Dzeko gives a shit about?.
    As Dave has said already, Williamson passing stat is all well and good if he’s just passing back to Krul. Ariel stats – great, but is he heading it to one of our players?.
    Are you suggesting, based on those stats that when Colo is available again that YOU would play him over Colo or Saylor – based on your stats showing he’s one of the best performing players?


  7. CC – perhaps you’re just not reading my comments fully mate. I have said that Williamson is not good to get us into the top 6 if played regularly. If you are suggesting that he would be 4th or 5th choice, surely that is you agreeing with me that he’s not good enough?!
    In all honestly though mate, I’d like to see Good developed and we have a couple of quality young CBs coming through – Drummett, Streete and Satka in particular seem very promising.
    I don’t know when Williamsons current deal runs to but with those players coming through, I wouldn’t be offering him a new one.


  8. Williamson as a defender is doing his job. Our problem is being creative, creating clear chances for our strikers and getting goals. Ba is our only source of Goals at the MO.

    Goals conceded we are 10th, Goals scored we are 14th. We have conceded the same number of goals as united.

    You cannot blame the defence for our current plight.


  9. I want Pards to start being honest. Grow some balls and speak up on behalf of his squad and the club’s fans. I know it’s a fine balance as this is his bosses we are talking about, but his job is to manage the footballing side of things and do what’s best for the club, not what’s best for Alan Pardew and his bosses. He’s only as good as the tools at his disposal. If he wants top 4 like he said, then he needs to start demanding the finances to get us there.


  10. Michael12@85 – “We have conceded the same number of goals as united.” πŸ™„

    Of course we have. It is self evident that we would have the same number of goals as ourselves πŸ˜‰


  11. Roy Cropper I don’t even need to go to watch them live to agree with that me old bean πŸ˜‰

    Sham @ 87 I can’t see it happen either being honest or demanding the proper tools

    Michael @ 85 thats an interesting stat if it’s manure your referring to maybe you could tell us if the stats say we have scored the same πŸ˜€


  12. I have spent about an hour reading all 90 comments on this blog.
    First, very well thought out article πŸ˜†
    I think there are problems on and off the pitch, from financial input from Mike Ashley… Oh wait, there isn’t none. To players lacking confidence on the pitch.
    I also think Alan Pardew should not be sacked under any circumstances (within reason)
    Relegation, surely not; we have argubly the greatest fans in the league and some high class players, and I’m very surprised some of you are mentioning relegation.
    I think we have struggled all season in all areas, Cisse and Ba obviously cannot play together, so what does Pardew do? Play them game in game out. Something needs to change and that’s a fact.
    Last season was definitely a one season wonder, we had so much luck it was almost unreal, but we weren’t complaining were we?
    Qualifying for Europe last season was an incredible outcome for the club, however because of the appauling investment in the summer its obviously had a bad affect on us. I also disagree with the amount of youngsters who have played in crucial games so early in the season, don’t get me wrong, they are all quality players and will have amazing futures ahead of them, but not in such high profile games, when, even this early in the season, we need 3 points. The last 2 home games have been a disaster to be honest, and I shouldn’t think there’s many who disagree with that.
    At the end of the day, this is all my verdict and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. So, there you have it, there is my verdict.
    Keep your chins up. HOWAY THE LADS! πŸ˜€


  13. NUFC-PROUD some good points there πŸ˜‰ but I would say if we don’t sort our shit out we will be down scrapping at the bottom even if we don’t think we should, we are only 5 pts above the bottom 3 😯


  14. Michael,

    Considering how defensive we play tactically when should never be 10th n goals conceded.

    We play with two, sometimes three defensive midfielders who help out our defense. That’s why we suffer in the final third.

    Also, attacks are built from defense. Its really hard to build an attack when Williamson and Simpson keep kicking it long and losing possession. Or pass back to Krul to kick long and lose possession.

    Its like they don’t trust their own ability to play a measured pass to a team Mayes feet. So they bypass them and hoof (poorly) to the strikers.

    At this level you need defenders who do more than just defend, they need to be able to play a bit of football too.

    Sorry mate, I hear your points I just massively disagree.
    with them.


  15. @JJ. Your desperation to create mitigating circumstances for the players you like is making you look deranged.

    Now it is Williamson’s fault that our creative players Cabaye and HBA are not creating enough opportunities for our strikers? It is Williamson’s and Simpson’s fault that we are not scoring enough goals?

    Get a grip my man!


  16. Michael,
    I could say exactly the same thing for your creation of mitigating circumstances to criticize Cabaye, – which seems to be your mission of late.
    All I’m saying is that quality players cannot perform at optimum level when there are donkeys like Williamson and Simpson hoofing the ball back to the opposition. I only single them out because they are the most consistently poor IMO.
    Whether I look deranged is a matter of opinion, but considering you feel they are better players than Cabaye then I find it hard to respect anything you really have to say on footballing matters, because that alone makes you look silly mate.


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