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