It’s fair to say that there has been a lot of frustration around St James’ Park lately.
Heavy defeats at the hands of Manchester United, Southampton and Everton combined with a poor run of form since the turn of the year have heaped pressure on Alan Pardew, whilst his headbutt which led to a seven match touchline ban certainly hasn’t done him any favours.
A season which had started with so much promise has petered out to nothing and now we are in danger of slipping out of the top half of the Premier League table. But whilst the performances from the boys in black and white haven’t been favourable, there is only a handful of games left to impress for those wanting to be on the plane to Rio come June.
A dip in form is that last thing those looking to book a spot in their respective international squads for the World Cup need so with that in mind, let’s take a glance at who’s in line to feature at the World Cup. Well, we need something to look forward to, right?
Loic Remy looks set to make the French squad but a few decent performances between now and the end of the Premier League season would help his cause greatly. Karim Benzema has been in superb form for Real Madrid, scoring 29 goals, so will certainly be the talisman, but competition for a supporting role is well and truly up for grabs with Remy, Giroud and Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette all on Didier Deschamps’ shortlist.
The problem with this is that we’re going to lose Remy at end of the season anyway as his loan deal expires, and a decent World Cup will easily push him out of our price range, if indeed he’s not already out of our limited transfer range. Remember, we can’t compete financially blah blah blah.
Moussa Sissoko is an absolute physical beast and should be in the France squad for the World Cup. The former Toulouse man has worried fans on the terraces of late with concerns he’s more interested in being fit for Brazil, but he looks like he’ll be thrown back into the team following a pulled hamstring, which will no doubt help build his fitness before joining up with France who are being backed to reach the quarter finals at the very least by freebets.
The former Lille man has arguably been our best performer of the season, an accolade that could have been afforded to his mate Yohan Cabaye before he moved back across La Manche to Paris Saint Germain. Debuchy and Arsenal man Bacary Sagna are the two players who likely to tussle it out for the right-back spot in Dechamps’ squad.
Over the years Coloccini has failed to nail a regular spot at centre-half in the Argentina squad, often having to pull out through injury, but the stalwart has World Cup experience and was trusted in the vital game that sealed the South American side’s place in the finals.
He’s also not happy with Newcastle’s performances of late. He recently told Sky Sports; “We are trying to win every game, of course we are. We have to play with pride for this club and for the fans.”
Hopefully the shaggy haired stopper heeds his own words in the final run in.
The Newcastle veteran has only scored two domestic goals this season, but after a solid spell of form in November, followed by a goal for the Super Eagles against Italy, Shola Ameobi seems like he might finally get his chance at a major tournament.
He’ll be battling Victor Obinna and Emmanual Emenike for a place in the starting line-up though, whilst Ezekiel and Uchebo, who ply their trade in the Belgian leagues, will also be fighting for a position.
It could be the Ivorian’s last chance to do something special this year with the likes of Yaya Toure and Didier Drogba perhaps starring at their last major tournament. And they have plenty to play for in a favourable group.
The defensive midfielder has played a major role on Tyneside this season and has allegedly caught the eye of Manchester City in the last few months.
There are several players who have a chance of finding themselves on the plane to Rio. Tim Krul perhaps has the best chance of the lot but is unlikely to be anything more than a squad member for the Netherlands. Vurnon Anita has not been called up fro a while and is not going to force his way into the reckoning now. For France there is Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Hatem Ben Arfa who have previously featured for their country but have fallen off the radar recently and I feel that they are in the same boat as Vurnon Anita and will have to watch from the sidelines.
When you look at it, especially the players who are near certainties to go to the World Cup, they haven’t done too badly at all. Loic Remy is our top scorer with Mathieu Debuchy performing well and Moussa Sissoko showing glimpses despite being played out of position.
However it is those on the periphery that have suffered. All four of my outsiders could have had solid seasons and worked their way into the thinking of their national team managers yet none of them have. In part that is down to Pardew and the weakness of the NUFC squad through lack of investment, but there must also be some blame apportioned to players who ultimately control their own performances.
Is it too early to start thinking about the World Cup? Not when you look at our season! If it’s not to the taste of some then tell me why, but personally I dislike going on about the same things over and over and there is only so many times I can write that Pardew must go or Ashley must go or we’ve been bad since Christmas and so on. Hence something different.
Has anything been missed?