Assessing the NUFC squad for 2017/18 – strengths, weaknesses and potential surprise packages

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?

Strengths

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.

 

Weaknesses

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.

 

Surprise packages

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?

(Fancy writing for us? Send any articles/ideas over to us at [email protected] & we’ll get back to you!)

About Simon Riddlesden

Lifelong Newcastle United fan and East Stand season ticket holder. Observations from a supporter who has followed NUFC during Champions League participation and through relegation, taking me from Milan to Scunthorpe.

137 thoughts on “Assessing the NUFC squad for 2017/18 – strengths, weaknesses and potential surprise packages

  1. TDS – The same reason Abramovitich bought Chelsea – Ego! Or the same reason Abu Dhabi bought Man City. To project their country on to the world.

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  2. kim

    Not really mate. Not when you consider the value of the product and the huge media deals based on what fans globally are willing to spend.

    Consider the amount that singers and actors get paid. Also what about sportsmen in the American sports (American football, baseball, basketball especially).

    I don’t blame footballers for wanting their piece of the pie. Without them, there wouldn’t be a product for the clubs and leagues to sell.

    The testing time was when gate prices and merchandise prices started to rise and fans kept paying for it…then the TV deals started and fans lapped up the Sky packages.

    The soul has gone out of football in many ways, but I think that boat has sailed. Want to see good, old fashioned working class football? Look to non-league. I’ve been to a few Woking FC games down here.

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  3. Stuart

    Yes mate. But both of those people knew that with their billions, they could quickly overtake the incumbent clubs in the top 4, because they couldn’t match that financial power. Putting in the same amount of money now would not guarantee we could get into the top 4, because the financial competition is so much higher.

    If a billionaire wants to get recognition for being in the CL, better to invest in a top club in another league in my opinion.

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  4. kimtoon:
    Agree, he simply isn’t wealthy or ambitious enough to own us any longer. Sad that you need so much money to compete now .

    kim, not really Rafa needs a lot of money. A net spending of $40M will be more than enough for him. He really did not ask for that much.

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  5. Billionaires are richer now than they were ten years. It’s all relative.

    Regards his interview – it’s so uninspiring and it is just damping down expectations (if we ever had any!) It shows Ashley’s complete and lack of ambition for the club. Rafa and the fans have the ambition – the owner doesn’t. That’s really sad but not unexpected. Ashley ownership has been one pathetic and uninspiring tenure

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  6. To be fair he could have given some reassurance that he is working hard on securing investment and growing the club’s brand etc. But there was nothing. Definitely needs to sell up and ship out.

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  7. Yeah. Uninspiring is correct. But that’s just who the man is. He’s never been suited to this club because he simply doesn’t connect to the passion that the fans have for this club. That’s not necessarily a criticism of the man, Freddie Shepherd was suited to the club, but I think he was a shit Chairman who made lots of stupid decisions .

    Ashley is practical, money driven and boring in my view. No passion, no excitement…he probably wanks off when his share price goes up but can’t get it up for a beautiful woman…

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  8. He is useless as an owner, zero ambition for the club. Why employ a top coach and not back him with the funds to carry out the job. No fan expects £25m strikers but for around £13-14m we could of secured someone decent. I know wages would be high as in the case of Pea for instance but all I’m hearing today is that footballers are entitled to big pay . If he can’t fund us and make us progress then he needs to sell to someone who will.

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  9. Why is he talking about competing with City and writing cheques for £200m ? What fans have suggested that, no one I know expects us to do that. He making the fans out to have unrealistic expectations and is as bad as the bloody pundits and press.
    Is it really so much to ask that we get a goalscorer around the £13m mark to enable us to survive.

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  10. kimtoon:
    He is useless as an owner, zero ambition for the club. Why employ a top coach and not back him with the funds to carry out the job. No fan expects £25m strikers but for around £13-14m we could of secured someone decent. I know wages would be high as in the case of Pea for instance but all I’m hearing today is that footballers are entitled to big pay . If he can’t fund us and make us progress then he needs to sell to someone who will.

    Kim – the thing for me is putting Ashley aside for a moment, if I were the owner of a club outside the top 4-5, I think I would be wondering what’s the point as well.
    Even if he DID go and spend £25-30m on a forward, we still wouldn’t be close to competing – hell City spent double that on a full back – twice!!.
    There are only 3 domestic trophies to go for and if the top 4 don’t win them it’s seen as a bad season for them – there is on tin pot trophy anymore.

    I know Everton have spent big this summer and good for them – but does anyone honestly see them finishing any higher than 6th – maybe 5th?!.

    I have a little saying ‘is the juice worth the squeeze’, and if I had £100m while others were spending £500m, I’d fancy I’d be wasting £100m personally.

    I know that leads to well then what the point – and I agree with that too. I’m just saying from both sides.
    The reality is we will only ever be what none of us want – a mediocre mid table team.

    Unless these elite teams break off and create a Europe or World super league – and I see that happening after the Quatar World Cup.

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  11. Sharpy, forget mediocre mid table mate if he doesn’t spend on a decent goal scorer we won’t even survive.

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  12. I still reckon we will get the players in to survive comfortably. Just boring thinking there is no ambition to grow the club from the man up top.

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  13. kimtoon: what’s happened Ice

    one player in training got a knock so rafa asked him to fill in,he said no,so rafa sent to train somewhere else with kids i think

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  14. icedog: one player in training got a knock so rafa asked him to fill in,he said no,so rafa sent to train somewhere else with kids i think

    Wow, that’s him finished then

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  15. Well I listened to Arsenal v Leicester on 5live. Sounded like a great game. It’s nice to take an interest in PL games again, even if we are destined for years of dross until a new owner with a passion for the game and deep pockets takes over.

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  16. Bizarrely I have always wanted to know how good the so called “world class managers” are – we’re about to find out. Can anyone remember a time when a great manager has had comparatively no funds and he’s been left with what he has?

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  17. Stuart79:
    Bizarrely I have always wanted to know how good the so called “world class managers” are – we’re about to find out. Can anyone remember a time when a great manager has had comparatively no funds and he’s been left with what he has?

    Bobby Robson in his first year at NUFC. I think he was allowed 1 signing. Forgot his name, short and Scottish.

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  18. Not sure why people are saying this season is Benitez’ first relegation battle in 20 years. He had one a season and a half ago, when he had 10 games (over a quarter of a season) to get out of the drop zone. At the time we were only 1 point from safety with a game in hand. He did well, but not well enough. Difference this time is that by and large, he has his own squad, more time and an even playing ground to start with (everyone starts on zero points and there is no run of bad form). But still, he had a relegation battle in recent times and lost.

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  19. Drawing to the Scum and then losing to Norwich was what dropped us. However, I see us skinning 1 or 2 of the top sides this year and finishing comfortably mid table, provided we get a striker in at the very least, but preferably a playmaker as well.

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  20. Stuart79:
    Slightly different times, Eric – plus he didn’t have a newly promoted team to deal with.

    Kevin Gallacher.

    I know Stuart 🙂 We had Shearer, Rob Lee, Gary Speed etc. Still Guillet managed to fall out with 2 of those 3. Ruud is a pretty good pundit BTW, he’s on over here sometimes.

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  21. shamrock:
    Drawing to the Scum and then losing to Norwich was what dropped us. However, I see us skinning 1 or 2 of the top sides this year and finishing comfortably mid table, provided we get a striker in at the very least, but preferably a playmaker as well.

    That Norwich game was a bit of a farce. A clear handball in extra time led to their winner.

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  22. Why the hell are Arse thinking of selling Giroud? We should buy both him and Perez but Fatman says he’s skint.

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  23. I’ve been sitting on the last thread for ages wondering why nobody was posting…. 😡

    I sent in an article for consideration a few days ago… not heard anything back on it… maybe it was crap but would be good to at least get a “thanks but no thanks” 😳

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  24. Dubai later I will email you. Send it tobme and. I will publish it for you if I still have admin access.

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  25. Icedog:
    SHARPY you enjoying hols mate? warm enough for you

    Ice – it’s cracking mate. I don’t know if you know where that Popeye place is but we are basically 100m away from that – the bay opposite.
    What a beautiful place and the hotel is class – everything we need & more for the lad. Got the trip booked for Gozo & the blue lagoon & me seat reserved in the sports bar for Sunday 😉 – yes mate, it’s a good life.

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  26. Dubai Toon:
    I’ve been sitting on the last thread for ages wondering why nobody was posting….

    I sent in an article for consideration a few days ago… not heard anything back on it… maybe it was crap but would be good to at least get a “thanks but no thanks”

    look forward to it mate, nice to read varied viewpoints .

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  27. Sharpy17: Ice – it’s cracking mate.I don’t know if you know where that Popeye place is but we are basically 100m away from that – the bay opposite.
    What a beautiful place and the hotel is class – everything we need & more for the lad.Got the trip booked for Gozo & the blue lagoon & me seat reserved in the sports bar for Sunday – yes mate, it’s a good life.

    blue lagoon, sports bar, sunshine, now I’m really jealous. 🙂 enjoy it mate

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  28. shamrock:
    Sharpy is there still spaces on Olly’s league? If so, whats the code? 23801-826078 is TDS’ one.

    Sham – sorry mate, I don’t know what Ollys is. I think there’s 61 teams so far but not sure what the max is – if there is one?!.
    I did ask Olly where all these people were commenting on the blog – but I didn’t get an answer 🤷🏼‍♂️

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  29. kimtoon: blue lagoon, sports bar, sunshine, now I’m really jealous. enjoy it mate

    Kim – I’d highly recommend this place like – if that wasn’t already obvious 😂.

    I get your point about the striker too and totally agree. It’s horrible to think that a club like ours is thinking of recruitment just to stay afloat.

    I watched the Leicester game last night though and you don’t need world class players. I’m not talking about winning leagues – that was freak. But competing in this league, they of course have some really good players, but they are also players who nearly went down with Pearson.
    But we need someone who will get us goals. I think Gayle will, but his fitness isn’t great & we can’t depend solely on him.

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  30. Stuart79:
    Bizarrely I have always wanted to know how good the so called “world class managers” are – we’re about to find out. Can anyone remember a time when a great manager has had comparatively no funds and he’s been left with what he has?

    Stu – by that definition does that make Fat Sam a great manager?

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  31. Sharpy, I do think Gayle will bag us goals but his hamstrings really worry me or rather his mental issue with them does.

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  32. Mark Douglas‏Verified account @MsiDouglas · 17h17 hours ago

     More

    Mark Douglas Retweeted mark b

    Don’t have a problem with him doing interviews. But timing’s lousy IMO. His priority should be resolving Rafa frustration

    exactly, spot on.

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  33. kimtoon:
    Mark Douglas‏Verified account @MsiDouglas · 17h17 hours ago

     More

    Mark Douglas Retweeted mark b

    Don’t have a problem with him doing interviews. But timing’s lousy IMO. His priority should be resolving Rafa frustration

    exactly, spot on.

    Kim – I’m going to disagree on this one. Douglas being a bit of a dick there I think. We all want Ashley to be more engaging & transparent – so his interview is a good thing. Speaking with SS for 30 mins or whatever it was doesn’t mean he’s not working on Rafas problem – sorry Newcastles problem – coz if we don’t have the goals to stay in the league it’s as much Ashley’s problem as it is Rafas – more, coz Rafa can walk, Ashley is possibly facing a third relegation.

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  34. Stuart79:
    Big Sam has never won the CL, or cups and titles in different countries.

    Stu – and Rafa ain’t winning any of those things with us mate.
    But if we stay up a lot of people will put that down to the brilliance of Rafa.

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  35. shamrock:
    Dubai later I will email you. Send it tobme and. I will publish it for you if I still have admin access.

    Thanks Shamrock. I emailed it to the email address just under the articles. I can send it to you again if you send an email address. Not sure it’s much good like… 😳

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  36. Have to say that I’m not very happy with these Sunday matches.. I work on Sundays so if it is early game icon Sunday I usually miss it. Tomorrow I have meetings all afternoon so well pissed off that I’m going to miss it. Bein sports has been reinstated now too so all games are on TV. 😡

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  37. That’s kind of my point, Sharpy. Everyone always asks if the like of Rafa, Jose, Pep or Ancellotti could do anything on a crap budget – well we’re about to find out. I don’t mean winning the CL obviously. But we will find out how much of a difference these managers actually make. Generally these managers have big budgets when they win things so how much is down to them or the money?

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  38. Sharpy17: Ice – it’s cracking mate.I don’t know if you know where that Popeye place is but we are basically 100m away from that – the bay opposite.
    What a beautiful place and the hotel is class – everything we need & more for the lad.Got the trip booked for Gozo & the blue lagoon & me seat reserved in the sports bar for Sunday – yes mate, it’s a good life.

    great to hear you are liking it mate,i know 99% of places after 25 plus years of going there i should plus family there told you it was a good hotel you can get cracking deals there in winter time,some people dont like it but thats because they dont pick the right area to go to like any country

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  39. after hearing jabba speach it would make most clubs think well why bother spending all the money to get to the PL if we have no chance of doing anything and maybe getting their club into deep shit,to me jabba has put a real downer on clubs and fans,its six club world you cannot join as you will go broke trying

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  40. Stuart79:
    That’s kind of my point, Sharpy. Everyone always asks if the like of Rafa, Jose, Pep or Ancellotti could do anything on a crap budget – well we’re about to find out. I don’t mean winning the CL obviously. But we will find out how much of a difference these managers actually make. Generally these managers have big budgets when they win things so how much is down to them or the money?

    its always been said by some in the game that good players win games not managers i dont think its that easy,players these days are bloody fickle and petty,a good manager knows how to deal with that side of the game,not like the old days these guys today are mega rich and a diff kettle of fish

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  41. Stuart79:
    That’s kind of my point, Sharpy. Everyone always asks if the like of Rafa, Jose, Pep or Ancellotti could do anything on a crap budget – well we’re about to find out. I don’t mean winning the CL obviously. But we will find out how much of a difference these managers actually make. Generally these managers have big budgets when they win things so how much is down to them or the money?

    Stu – get ya mate, I suppose I’m thinking the opposite – could Fat Sam do it at a club with endless wealth.
    I honestly think we will be just fine with Rafa – he’s said he’s 100% committed so we have to take him at his word. I listened to Ashley’s interview this morning and whilst it’s not what we want to hear – the guy is being honest. His wealth is tied up in shares.
    But as for Rafa, imo he’s a tactical genius. He knows the game inside out. He’s directing the players from the touch line the whole game.
    I think he has the players who will follow his instruction and is looking to shift those that can’t/won’t follow his instruction.

    I think there will be 3 teams worse than us this season, and if Swansea loose the likes of Gylfi & Llorente as it looks very likely they will – then they are seriously in the mix too.
    Brighton, Huddersfield, Burnley, Swansea I see being down there – and probably us just above them.

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  42. I don’t disagree when it comes to Rafa, Sharpy and I don’t doubt his words. But we will have a major problem on our hands if/when a more ambition club comes in for Rafa. If Bilic has a bad start they’ll come calling and lets be honest, West Ham it seems have more ambition and clout than we do. That’s just one example.

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  43. icedog: its always been said by some in the game that good players win games not managers i dont think its that easy,players these days are bloody fickle and petty,a good manager knows how to deal with that side of the game,not like the old days these guys today are mega rich and a diff kettle of fish

    Ice – I think Leicester are a prime example of that mate, a good manager/coach in Shakespeare is able to make average players into an excellent unit. B’mth and Eddie Howe the same. If you aren’t world class but you’re ready to fight for your team – that can go along way as well.

    In Rafa we trust 👍🏻

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  44. I’d add Stoke to that list too. Hughes is stagnating Stoke after 4 midtable years. Boring man.

    Re the Ashley interview. Tied up in shares? Like when you bought a helicopter or wasted millions in casinos every week? Or prevented NUFC getting stadium advertising with your tatty branding? Man spouts rubbish every time he speaks to the media. I can live with him as an owner but really don’t want to know what he thinks we should hear.

    The market and money is insane now and maybe we’re well out of it anyway. Rafa will keep us up and then we can join in the madness next season 😳

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