In the heat of battle!

Well, where do we start?

Well, where do we start?
Who is our leader?
I must admit it has been a little while since I have tried to put fingers to keyboard to knock out an article.

With so much focus on player transfers over the past months and with the start of this new season, I haven’t given much thought to doing this type of thing at all.

However, things have settled down somewhat (by NUFC standards) so I thought I’d give it another go.

The subject matter for this article has been bouncing around in the vast spaces of my mind for many weeks and now that it has come time to write it all down, I am struggling to find a good angle to run with. So I will lead it off with a hypothetical scenario and see where it takes me…

You are a Newcastle United player, sitting in the change room before kick-off, knowing that you are about to play the toughest game you could imagine. If you could, from our current squad, who would you choose to stand alongside you in the heat of battle? Who, would stand tall next to you and fight to the very end of the 90 minutes of play? Who would not hide when things got tough? Who would bleed for the cause?

O.K., bleed for the cause might be a bit dramatic but I want you to ponder the scenario and the questions posed.

From my perspective the pickings are very slim when it comes to players that tick all the boxes. If you pose these questions against many of our first team regulars, how many would make the grade? Remember this is not about technical ability or “class”. This is about leadership, heart and the desire to overcome adversity on the field of play!

In my opinion, the group below are players that drift in and out of games and seem a little disinterested if things get too tough.

Hatem Ben Arfa – Silvain Marveaux – Papiss Cisse – Yohan Cabaye – Yoan Gouffran – Davide Santon – Moussa Sissoko – Shola Ameobi

As you can see there are some big names on that list and some others that could quite easily be on there as well. A worrying concern is that nearly all of them are our play making midfielders and forwards. Games are won and lost in the middle of the park and we really have a number of players that turtle up when things get really tough. Tiote and Jonas for all the criticisms they receive at least will put their hand up and fight to the end. Anita tries hard and seems to be a player that knows he is playing for a regular spot in the starting eleven. A few of his team mates could well do with having the same pressure put on their starting positions.

I haven’t named many defenders because by their very nature and the job they do, they have to get stuck in and fight tooth and nail on the last line of defence. They simply can’t let a player ghost past them and hope someone else will tackle them. However, as our captain, I would like to see Coloccini lead from the front more often. I am not asking him to be a loud mouth centre half but he needs set the tone for the rest of the team to follow.

When you look at the balance of our starting eleven, we have too many players that drift in and out of games. I know that no team can dominate another team for a full 90 minutes. There will be times during the game when the ascendency will be with the opposition but it is how you react during these times that count. No team in the Premier League can afford to have passengers on the park but unfortunately we seem to have more than our share.

Maybe it is a case of too many players feeling safe with their position within the team. This could be because Pardew shows them too much favour or we simply do not have enough quality cover to replace them?

We really need to add some steel to our team when (if) we get a chance to sign players in January. We need on field leaders that will stand tall under pressure and lead the way in tough games.

So in conclusion, if I were sitting in that change room, there would only be a couple of players that I would feel safe going in that game with and that is a pretty sad reflection as to where we are at currently.

However, maybe the French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre sums it up the best!

“In football everything is complicated by the presence of the opposite team.”

Let me know what you think!

By Aussie Magpie Fan

90 thoughts on “In the heat of battle!

  1. We do need to make the effort in the cup BB. It’s important to the supporters at this point after last season especially.


  2. BB, yep ,agree ,this is Evertons first loss of the season ,it had to come but I was really hoping it would be against us 🙄 .

    G2@74 ,agree mate ,bit of rotation needed ,so we’re fresh for the toffees.


  3. I’m not convinced changing 85% of the team for a cup game is right.
    Especially after the last performance.
    What if the ‘new’ team put in a sparkling performance against Leeds ❓
    Do they then deserve to be dropped against Everton. Particularly for players who ‘seem’ like they cant be arsed, and will most likely get beat.
    How will that affect the spirit in the squad.
    Tough call for pardum


  4. BB, yeah it’s a tough call ,I guess it comes down to how Pards feels about the cup really . He’s obviously gonna pay it lip service but I wouldn’t be surprised if deep down he finds it a pain in the arse for disrupting his league game prep. God forbid we should win the bloody thing ,that would really put the cat amongst the pidgeons , Christ ,Jabba wouldn’t buy any more players for another year at least if we won a cup, he’d be thinking we are well strong enough. 🙄


  5. I bit of a personal dimension here, but one generally (heh heh, that’s a pun, which won’t become obvious until the end) related to the article.

    In my time in competitive football, especially the latter part of it. I was club captain – not because I said a lot or because I was tactically astute, but because I always took the fight to the opposition – sometimes literally. I played it hard and gave it everything. The players always responded to my lead. It also helped that I was a terrific player 😆 😆

    The actual talking on the field was done by 2 other guys. We called them marshals (get the pun now?)

    The thing is, a team is made up of many sorts of people – not just skill-wise but personality-wise and roll-wise (person-to-person-wise) – but not Dennis Wise.

    I don’t think we have the required variety in the Newcastle first team atm. And like any team (sporting or work), if all functions aren’t being filled, there are likely to be times when the whole group crashes.

    So is it steel we need, or silicone? 😉


  6. Vegas, a very humble post! 😯 😆
    I came up with the basis of the article from my playing days.. There were times when I was in the change room and would look around at the guys in my team and I knew you were going to win a game. You had the hard guys, the skillful guys and the leave nothing on the field guys. You drew confidence from the guys alongside you.
    Unfortunately there were also times when I looked around at my team mates and though “f*ck, we are in trouble today” 😆
    I spent most of my carreer playing against and with ex pat Poms, Scots, Irish, Italian and Eastern block players. So we had an eclectic mix in our teams. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it was a powder keg. There were lots of fights at training but at least it showed that we had passion 😆 😆


  7. Yeah, being in the outer western suburbs of Sydney our team was chocabloc with migrants. But you couldn’t ever pick the kind of player by nationality. We had a Scot who was soft as clarts and a Thai guy who was a little brick shithouse (and a Geordie with silky smooth ball skills 😎 ).

    Aye, memories. Wish I was in my 20s again. Although I could do without the poverty and the emotional upheaval that went with it.

    All in all, back on topic, I think I’d prefer a team that was pliable, adaptable, creative, totally footballed, than one with a steel and iron core.


  8. Give me the steel and iron core Vegas and we would kick the pretty out of your bunch of daisy picking fairies 😆 😆


  9. I don’t for one minute think, that the lads we have playing for NUFC this season, have gotten to where they are, without having shown that they have passion for the game and a desire to be the best. They will have seen other lads with great talents, be cast off from the route to the top.
    I am quite certain that they were playing with flair and passion and with a win at all costs mentality at their previous clubs too.
    But something happens when they come to Newcastle and the EPL, that strips them of all that.
    It must have something to do with the club, the training, and the change of lifestyle.
    It beggars belief how lazy, complacent and passionless they become in such a short time.
    Perhaps some of them are resting on their laurels, having achieved or even exceeded their potential and cant get any better.
    I find it hard to believe tho. But where has the desire to WIN gone ❓


  10. Bris – don’t you think our recruitment policy restricts us getting ‘that’ type of player in though mate.
    At the moment we won’t recruit players over 27-28 or whatever it is, but alot of players that age or older have that leadership quality. Older players develop that with experience and understand of the game either because they have to, or want to. They have to because they’ve lost something from their own game -ie that yard of pace. Or they want to because they are taking their coaching badges and thereby seeing things from a coaching perspective rather than solely a playing one.


  11. That’s a good point Sharpy.
    But you would also hope the club would look to retain players as they develop rather than always looking to sell to make a profit 👿


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