Another week and more rumours of Rafa’s unhappiness with our transfer dealing so far. I image the vast majority of fans agree that we had hoped for more investment, especially in forward areas, by this point of the window. With the season now upon us, just what is the state of the squad?
Newcastle do have some positives in the squad. We lack quality in certain areas but we appear to have good squad togetherness and players with a desire to play to a system and who want to play for Newcastle United. Both our previous relegations we went down with strong squads ‘on paper’. Mercenaries and players you use the club as a stepping stone is dangerous and something Rafa has avoided.
We also have a core of players who will have a point to prove in the top flight. Shelvey will want an England place back and Gayle and Ritchie will want to prove they can deliver in the Premier League this time round.
Young players like Hayden and Lascelles will also need to continue to improve to keep their berth in the starting XI and that challenge will only push their development.
We have had a good pre-season and racked up some good victories. Of course results mean little during the off season but the form shown from the likes of Shelvey and particularly Atsu has been encouraging. We also don’t have any major injuries to be concerned with.
I think we lack two things in the squad at the moment: Premiership knowhow and firepower/goal scorers. Our signings so far do not have a great deal of experience in English football, and if they do it is very limited in the Premier League.
Experience shows that signings from abroad are better value but a gamble. Merino and Lejeune in particular look to be well scouted and good finds but again we are not buying ready-made players; mainly as we are a newly promoted side but also due to Ashley not investing as he promised?
This lack of investment leads us to the main concern most fans have, a lack of goals. Gayle needs to prove he can score at a higher level and has fitness problems. Mitrovic and Perez was the strike force we got relegated with last time. We need a quality striker before the end of August.
In the squad there is scope for some surprise packages. De Jong and Aarons are both back and finally fit; for how long remains to be seen. Aarons pace could be an asset from the bench and De Jong would be a real bonus if he proves to be the player we hoped we signed three years ago. He has undoubted quality, but time will tell if he has the durability to cope with the physical demands of English football.
Manquillo and Atsu have also performed very well in pre-season and may prove to be a better purchase for the squad then we thought – with Manquillo looking set to deputise on Sunday for the injured DeAndre Yedlin.
Deadwood in the squad
Supposedly hindering our attempts to bring new players in is the amount of players we still have on the books. A 25 man squad needs to be submitted for the season and we must have nearly 30 senior players. Of course there is quite a few who are surplus to requirement but are on good wages and need to be shipped out.
The likes of Saivet, Riviere, Hanley and Haidara don’t have futures of the club and many of those are examples of us offering five year deals to players and it backfiring. They don’t want to give up good salaries to move to clubs in lower divisions and on less money and their poor displays have meant strong teams don’t want them either.
Players such as Colback, Lazaar and Krul also appear to be not part of Rafa’s plans either, and the club will be busy facilitating moves for all of the above in order to free up some much needed room for new signings.
Hopefully Charnley and co. can shift out the players Rafa doesn’t want, but expect some late loan deals towards the end of the window with us still contributing towards wages.
What do you think of our current squad?