Where do you start with squad strengthening in January?

Strengthening required.
Strengthening required.
Underwhelming is a word I would use to describe our season so far. In fact I could probably choose a lot of others to add to that list…

Alan Pardew has to shoulder a portion of the blame for that, as do the players and the ownership. Combine all that with a bit of bad luck with injuries and you end up where we are now.

Pretty much everyone agreed that it was a bad move not to add numbers over the summer, especially with the Europa league to contend with, and for me that failure to strengthen the squad sufficiently is what is causing most of the problems now. There is no cover for certain positions and no competition for spaces. Compare that even to last season where we had players like Ryan Taylor and Leon Best trying to prove a point and you can sort of see what I’m getting about.

It wasn’t about spending millions in the summer and it wasn’t about buying a world class player for each position but there were certain areas of the squad which needed beefing up and we failed to do that. That is the fault of Derek Llambias and Mike Ashley for me as they hold the purse strings, and those who seem to believe that Alan Pardew is just a puppet should go along with that as it would contradict their argument if they didn’t.

Now with January just around the corner the issue of strengthening will crop up once again. We’re already being linked with lots of players but I don’t expect to see a flurry of activity during the next transfer window. We don’t need a flurry of activity in fairness, we just need what should have been done in the summer. Thing is, where do you start?


Personally I think we’re alright here. Tim Krul has had his shaky moments but overall he is still our number one and to be fair he has decent backup underneath him. I wasn;t sold on Rob Elliot but fair play to the lad, he has done well when called upon in the Europa League. We also have Steve Harper in the background so we’re fine here.


This is one area that needed strengthening over the summer, especially in the heart of the defence. When fit we have just three central defenders which is not enough when you consider one of them tends to spend half a season sat in the stands watching games with this or that injury.

Fabricio Coloccini will always get in the team because he is a class act. He’s made some gaffes but he’s also put in some masterclass performances. He’s also the captain so will get the nod barring a serious drop in form.

Where we struggle is who to pair him with. I’m of the opinion that Mike Williamson is one of those players that has become a scapegoat for fans. He’ll carry the can for errors both he and others make in the eyes of some and any good work he does will get overlooked. He’s not without limitations, but with a lack of another central defender to replace him due to injury what options does Alan Pardew have?

Then there are the full-back positions. Davide Santon has been much improved this term and appears to be finding his feet in the Premier League. Maybe it’s to do with the Geordie lass who is feeding him up these days? Behind him we have Shane Ferguson who can be called upon and even Jonas Gutierrez who has operated that left-back role at times so I think we’re fine there.

At right-back it’s different though. We have Danny Simpson who again I don’t think is as bad as some make him out to be although again I do concede he has limitations. After that we’re looking at James Tavernier who, whilst promising, is yet to really mount a challenge for a spot in a Premier League side. Pretty weak if you ask me and certainly an area for improvement.


Much of this part of the discussion will depend on formation and perception of roles, but I think we’re actually fine in the heart of midfield. We have Yohan Cabaye and Cheik Tiote who are the first choice pairing and it’s a shame they have only played three times together this season.

We then have an improving Vurnon Anita with young players like Gael Bigirimana and Mehdi Abeid supplemented by the likes of Romain Amalfitano and Dan Gosling so we do have numbers.

Out wide we do have numbers but unfortunately not many of them have exactly been lighting up the pitch. Jonas Gutierrez appears to have lost something while Sylvain Marveaux has been hit and mainly miss. Gabriel Obertan is in the same boat as Marveaux. In fact the only one who has contributed has been Hatem Ben Arfa and I don’t think he’s really what you would call a wide man.

Maybe this is something we need to address in the next transfer window? We are lacking a supply from out wide which will lead me on to my next area for interrogation.


This is where we’re really struggling right now. We have one striker who is not exactly firing on all cylinders, another who is but may well be off in January anyway, and then there is Shola…

Again it was a position that needed strengthening in the summer but again it was ignored, although this was despite some rather public interest in former number nine Andy Carroll. However, the exact intensity of such interest remains questionable as does the fitness and form of a player who has played just nine games and scored one goal since the end of August.

The problem here is there are very few options to call upon, options which may well be depleted further in January should Shola answer the call for Nigeria and disappear to the African Cup of Nations and should Demba Ba decide to activate his release clause leaving just Papiss Cisse who is yet another who is attracting his fair share of criticism for “not doing anything” when he isn’t scoring or not being able to “trap a ball” even though the stats show that Cisse is the second highest creator of chances in the team with 16 from open play, and despite the fact that Demba Ba has a higher percentage of wayward first touches…

Having said that we definitely need our forward line added to.


I think you can split our strengthening into two categories. Both are important but some are more important than others. Having a wide attacking player who can provide assists would be great, but is the need for a player of such attribute ahead of another defender or striker? Depends on opinion I suppose.

I very much doubt everything will be addressed in one transfer window but I’d like to hope that the squad is added to. Perhaps we could start with a central defender and a striker to ease the shortage of number in both departments?

Then perhaps we can look at improving on Danny Simpson or other players we already have who can at least do a job in the shorter term?

What do you think

About toonsy

A lifelong Newcastle fan and current webmaster of this very 'blog who has the sole aim of creating a place by Newcastle United fans, for Newcastle United fans.

141 thoughts on “Where do you start with squad strengthening in January?

  1. How can Ashley not see what an anchor around our necks owlheed is? Surely he cares about his investment. My guess is he will blow his stack in the new year if we are in the bottom 4 or 5 but it will be Pardew who will receive the blast and get sacked. I can just see Ashley after sacking Pardew with us in 17th place:
    MA: so Derek you’ve been in the game for several seasons now. Who do you recommend we bring in now?
    DL: well Mike I haven’t given it a lot of thought but what is Joe Kinnear doing these days? The supporters were really warming up to him as I recall. If he hadn’t had that heart problem he would probably still be with us.
    MA: excellent idea Derek and I’m sure I can get him to sign a long term contract. Let’s phone him right away!


  2. BB@72, that Geronimo move from Wenger wouldn’t surprise me one bit… ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

    Just back to yesterdays game, the turning point of the game was Nasri going off injured. If he had of stayed on we would have lost 1-6 ๐Ÿ™„ He was the prime tormentor on the left side…. still hate the bloke though… ๐Ÿ‘ฟ


  3. “Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas has no plans to let Michael Dawson and Scott Parker join QPR in January.”….

    Hmm for the life of me, why cannot we sign a seasoned PL player on loan ? It would get us through this slump for sure…


  4. MM – because there is no value to be had in a loan deal apparently ๐Ÿ˜•
    In saying that, if we cant get the players we “targeted” because they wont come to a relegation threatened team,we may have no choice.
    Good call ๐Ÿ˜‰


  5. BB I think we need seasoned pros with PL experience to steady the ship until the end of this season, and keep us in the PL. Why our lot seem so intent on looking at the foreign market for untried players is beyond me. This time round, because of the predicament we are in, we need another type of player, and why shouldn’t they be loan players until the end of the season.

    I for one wouldn’t be unhappy to see those two Spuds players at the toon for the last months of the season.


  6. Axel – is Douglas the Brazilian Bramble?!

    Andymag – I suggested Schieber, not that I thought we would actually get him, but just coz he’s a player I think is going to be class


  7. Sharpy
    He’s good in the air from what I’ve seen but for the passing game we want to (hopefully) play, he wouldn’t be the best option especially with Dortmund knowing his ability.
    Reckon Regato Augusto or Schรผrle would work.


  8. Andymag howay mukka…. Bayer Leberkusen rejected a 25 mill euro bid for Andre Schรผrle…. ๐Ÿ™„ ๐Ÿ™„ Wor lot are way down the pecking order …

    Andre Scรผrle is mint by the way, not far behind your mate at Dortmund Marco Reus…

    Renato Agosto has come and gone, has his best times behind him, a bit like that other waster Tranquillo Barnetta…. we dodged a bullet there like, he cannot get anywhere near the FC Schalke 04 first team, and they are so gash they have just fired Huub Stevens, despite reaching the next round of the Champs League… ๐Ÿ˜†


  9. I reckon Anita should have a word in Pardew’s shell-like and get some of those good Ajax cloggy’s brought over.

    We have alove affair with the French League, but unfortunately we are 5 years behind the times, cos the French League aint what it was.

    We should look in the Balkan area imo… there are a load of great Serbs / Croats, Albanians etc etc etc playing in the Bundesliga.


  10. I don’t agree that striker is a great need. If we are wanting to play 4-3-3 it’s winger/forward types we need.
    we can’t fit 2 strikers in as it is.
    I know they are similar but then Pardew either needs to sell one or work out a system to accommodate them successfully.


  11. MM
    Aye I knew Schรผrle was class but didn’t hear about that bid. Tbh I couldn’t remember where Augusto went, just remember that he was good a season or so ago. Guess I’m not the transfer guru anymore ๐Ÿ˜† .
    Just sold Lewandowski on FIFA for ยฃ33m and bought Luuk De Jong and Llorente with the money. Now have Reus and Llorente as my strikers with De Jong as an impact sub :mrgreen: .


  12. MM
    Noticed Bundesliga teams getting in on the Asian market now too, Wolfsburg have a good one I think, midfielder I believe.
    I recall Pards(I think) saying we are looking out in that Balkan area, Carr out in Croatia and the like.


  13. Andymag, the Balkan centre halves tend to be a bit radged and would punch the opponents granny if they had to. Look at your mate Subotic, a hard lad, but superb footballer. We could do worse than look to the eastern block imo…


  14. Andymag, I think the bloke is brilliant, him and Mats Hummels are a brilliant pairing…

    Where is Newkie tonight ? ๐Ÿ˜‰


  15. MM
    Not yet, he won’t though.
    Might want to stay away from Serbia at the moment. Bit of a bogey country at the moment. Bosnia-Herzigovenia is producing some good players.


  16. MM
    I signed Badstuber for my Dortmund team so had a back six of


  17. Badstuber is cream crackered at the moment, bad knee injury and he’s out for 4 months…

    Hiroshi Kiyotake FC Nรผrnberg….could be a good signing, Japanese lad…wouldn’t cost too much…


  18. Asian market is largely an untapped source. The game is growing out there and if Ashley was smart he start an academy out in China or Japan. From sheer numbers, if the country was interested in the sport they’d be beast at it.


  19. MM
    Axel is all things cloggy, Richie is all things spaniard, your all things brotwurst and I’m all things random FIFA knowledge. Speaking of which what do you think of Scalke’s Papadopoulus.


  20. SHARPY@84 Yes that would be a good discription of him , Another player too look out for out of the Dutch Eeredivise is Bruno Martins Indie from Feyenoord that lad is a star defender in the making . Feyenoord have some cracking young players coming through . It would be worth Carr coming too have a look at them


  21. Andymag … Poppadopolous is an immense centre half / defensive midfielder, but he’s a young bairn, only 20, but is one of the mainstays of the Greek National team, and is now in the 25 million class unfortunately.
    I really like the bloke, he’s a beast of a defender, so strong,quick and aggressive for a young lad. He made his debut in the Greek League at 14 ffs …. ๐Ÿ˜† Then you have our “promising youngsters” at 22 going nowhere… ๐Ÿ™


  22. Axel I reckon wor lot could do a good turn and look to the cloggy league to be honest…. There are some great players coming out of the Aerendivision, I reckon Huntelaar wil leave Schalke for Liverpool in January, plus here at FC Bayern we had Roy Mackaay who was an immense goalscorer. There are a lot more where they come from, look at Luis Suarez and Ibrahimovic all started off in Holland…

    Plus, to cap it all of, I don’t think the EPL is all it’s made out to be to be honest…


  23. MM
    Aye I just wondered why I never hear about any ‘big clubs’ being linked to him. Maybe when he’s out of contract someone might get him. I first heard about him a couple of years ago so he has been around from a young age.


  24. Andymag, Schalke 04 are a “big club” in Germany mate, twinned with Newcastle, and they have a lot in common with Newcastle, haven’t won owt for years despite the big club tag, crazy loyal fans, but haven’t won anything since they won the UEFA Cup in the 90’s.. Schalke 04 hotbed of football, the main city of Gelsenkirchen being twinned with Newcastle by the way….. commonalities from the last 50 odd years…, football and mining ….


  25. MM on last sentence
    Completely agree, English passion isn’t what it used to be. What did each league have
    La liga – Skill and the best in the world
    Italian league – organised tactics and a solid defence
    Bundesliga – powerhouse players who give 150% for their team and country
    The PL was special because of the passion and dedication that was involved, it attracted world-wide support/attention, the money came in and foreign players were brought in, slowly diluting the English spirit. That is why when an English player comes along that shows potential these days we concentrate on them too much, and they don’t develop properly because of it.


  26. Team GB win team of the year ๐Ÿ™„ , shouldn’t count it as a team. Nothing against our Olympic team, think they were remarkable, but they were a poster team not an official team, there are teams within that team that could’ve won. Should’ve been the Ryder cup team though.


  27. When that South Shields lad won young personality of the year, the camera showed Owen, was really hoping he’d rip into him. ๐Ÿ˜† .


  28. Selfish on the pitch and selfish as a pro. Get rid ASAP I say…

    โ€œI have nothing to say about those speculations [with Arsenal]. Nothing has happenedโ€, revealed Ba.

    โ€œThe media know Arsenal need another striker and they know about my release clause. They need to make their own mind up about it.

    โ€œArsenal are one of those teams who makes you dreamโ€.

    Read more: http://goonertalk.com/2012/12/16/demba-ba-arsenal-are-one-of-these-teams-who-make-you-dream/#ixzz2FGAEnTSx


  29. He was gone the moment that clause was found to be active for any transfer window. The club obviously want him gone as otherwise it’s the most shocking bit of business I’ve ever seen. 3 players needed now Ashley and you’re going to lose plenty of money. Good hunting.


  30. Bring all the names up you want. We wont be signing any of them. It will be some mobody Pardew see’s as a squad player.

    I love the Cisse flourish. Not interested in his record in Germany, its the Prem that counts. He’s been in the same position as Ba this season and scored 9 less goals. Straight shoot out and he fails badly. A striker is thee to score, how can you forget that in your pathetic arguments? Fuck it, let Ba go. Watch you lot bleat on about not having any fire power and the board being clueless for not paying up. Anybody thinking aba is bad fir this club is a nut job. The aim of football is to put the ball in the net. Keep it simple. If you cant understand that… Well… ๐Ÿ™„ ๐Ÿ˜•

    Fooking Taarabt for Ba? Seriously? Mental.


  31. @133, that quote says nothing… The whole world and his dig know anout the clause, yet Arsenal have not gone in for him. That’s all he’s saying. They need to make up their own mind, not the press. Yes he’s interested, but why would he not be? He’s one of the best strikers in the PL, playing in an average team with an average manager with a poor MD who thinks he can sign the best for next to nowt. Watch it all come crashing down… Championship next season folks. No Ba, no Benny, no Cabate, no Tiote abd no Colo. happy days.


  32. Shamrock, those advocating selling Ba need to shake there heeds man, it’s mental.

    The wheels are coming off big time, HBA being knackered being the final straw. We’ll be left with the same blokes who took us down last time round…. but without the “characters” in the dressing room ๐Ÿ™

    Sorry to be so negative like, but who in there right mind can blame Ba, or anyone for that matter for trying to better themselves and get maximum wedge ?


  33. Toonsy, I would say Shamrock is seriously peeved, cannot say I disagree with him to be honest.

    We’re all standing round watching the great effort from last season unravel…


  34. This may be off topic but i can’t understand why a large portion of our fans have begun to doubt the ability of Jonas. Yes at one stage he was quick and would go on probing runs and take players on, however he has aged and has redeveloped his game. He offers experience, energy and workrate, rarely gives the ball away and when he does he wins it back and also wins a heck of a lot of freekicks. He is essential to the midfield and compliments Cabaye and Tiote when both are fit.

    Going onto transfer targets, we obviously need some players through as early as possible in January. Providing funds are available, i would go for Douglas and Debuchy, both are long term targets and Douglas could be had on the cheap given his contract situation. With regards to the midfield, we are in need of either a quick and skillful Central Midfielder or a Winger. Wijnaldum of PSV would fit in perfectly and compliment what we have already, also Gourcuff would not be out of reach given Lyon’s financial situation.

    As for strikers, i think we need someone small and quick, in the Defoe mould, and i believe we already have that player and we should start blooding him. Campbell is rapid and has a good eye for goal from what i have seen, it would be no harm at all to start giving this lad some games. Saying that, we do need another striker in and news today is we are being linked with Bafetimbi Gomis of Lyon, again this would be a great signing. I follow a lot of Ligue 1 and was impressed with him at St Etienne. A real powerhouse of a striker, no slouch and can score a variety of goals, again Lyon are in financial difficulty so i think he could be had for under ยฃ10m, saying that, this all depends on whether we actually have the funds available! We shall wait and see!

    Team if we can get players in:


    Debuchy Douglas Colo Santon

    Cabaye Tiote Gutierrez

    Wijnaldum Ben Arfa

    Gomis/ Cisse


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