Balance at last?

Back in the middle of June I wrote an article looking at the last half a dozen games of last season and thinking that given that starting 11 we would be doing OK. However, since then the midfield has left and the attack has a new look. So the question becomes have we strength in depth or do we still have square pegs in round holes?

Looking at our current squad I’ll skip quickly over Goalkeepers, because with Krul out on loan we have Sels, Darlow and Elliott chasing the starting berth.

In defence we have right footed right backs in Anita, Gamez and Yedlin as well as left footed left backs in Lazaar and Haidara. Clark and Dummett are also left footed and can play full back so no excuses there. Center backs we have Lascelles, Mbemba, Haley, Clarke and Dummett all chasing two places. For once in recent years I’m happy about our defence.

In midfield things are a bit more fluid. It depends upon our formation. In my opinion we only have 2 outright defensive central midfielders in Hayden and Colback, with arguably Anita backing them up, so I’m not thinking 4-2-3-1 as much as 4-1 something. In the midfield we have left footers in Colback, Aarons, Ritchie and Atsu, right footed in Gouffran, Perez, Diame, and Shelvey. I’m thinking 4-1-3-2 with a diamond midfield.

Is this the sort of balance that will bring success?
Is this the sort of balance that will bring success?

That would give us Ritchie, Atsu and Aarons on the left, but only Gouffran on the right with Diame and Shelvey up front in the middle. That of course assumes we play left footed left wingers and right footed right wingers. Football used to be a simple game.

Then up front we have two big men, Mitrovitch and Murphy and two second strikers in Gayle and Perez.

Looking at that squad it is clear that we could have done with another right footed winger, hence the McMannaman, Morrisson and Markovitch rumours. Fortunately I think we dodged a couple of bullets there. Obviously I have assumed no versatility and players only covering one position and given what we have several formations are doable, I’ll leave that to the Gaffer.

This squad bears very little resemblance to last seasons, and that in itself can cause problems, but we have got off to a reasonable start and with players coming back and others bedding in, hopefully we can look forward positively to a successful season.


42 thoughts on “Balance at last?

  1. Good read Prem. For years we have been saying how lop-sided the squad has been and it has been puzzling how manager after manager and board member after board member could not see it! For the first time in a long time we have at least 2 competitive players for each position and we have flexibility to change formation and tactics multiple times mid game if we wish.

    I too would have liked to have seen a further right sided winger come into cover Ritchie, but if any player is expected to feature heavily in the side this season, it will be him – so perhaps the likes of Gouffy, Yedlin, Perez and Dime filling in for him every now and then will not be too impactive on the theme of balance running through the side.

    I’m sure come January or the summer Rafa will continue this theme. He has signed players that should hold their value, so if he decides to ditch certain plyers in the summer in favor of Premier League upgrades in thse positions, we should see the players being sold fetch competitive prices – as they are all either good enough for lower PL sides, or upper Championship sides. It’s been great work this summer.

    Kim, that story about Sissy is rubbish mate. The deal is 6 million per sason. If they sell him after 3 years, they will still owe us 12 – but they will have to work out whether they take a fee for him from the buying side and then settle the 12 with us, potentially making a loss, or they agree a fee of say 15 from the buying side, but only take 3 and tell the buying side to settle the remaining 12 with us if that makes sense. Either way, we get our 30.

    It’s potentially a bad deal for Spurs, because if he flops, they are stuck with him for 5 years and have no choice but to pay us 6 mil a year for the pleasure for the duration, with no hope of getting a decent sell on fee. It’s a win-win for us and a gamble for them.


  2. Thanks for the Photo Shamrock.

    Never expected Tiote to still be here, but there are some lucrative leagues still with open windows


  3. Im more concerned about the left winger spot than the right. Richie, like Townsend before him, seems far more effective playing on the right and from what I’ve read (never actually seen him) Atsu is the same. This means Aarons (always injured), Goofy and Perez as options for the left. So still a little lob-sided in attacked I’d say but I never would have imagined being this happy and excited about the squad after going down. This has been topped off with Rafa saying we’re no longer a stepping stone and the players than see us that way are gone.


  4. Atsu prefers playing on the right but he’ll be OK on the left. Bit like Ritchie really. Can’t believe Rafa will continue with Gouffran.


  5. Prem – good article mate. I’ve been surprised at just how much our defence has changed in one window. Colo, Saylor & Janmaat out but look at how many brought in!! – Hanley, Clark, Gamez, Yedlin, Lazaar and personally I would play Anita at RB.
    I was really pleased with the signing of Gayle. He might not be a ‘name’ (if that makes sense) but the kid has bags of pace & can score goals. I think with regular football & scoring regularly, his confidence will grow & we will see just how good he could be. Ritchie was another pleasing signing and I’m surprised Bmouth let him go to be honest. He’s a player with an end product, but he’s also a player who will dig in when we are up against it – he won’t go missing like Gini.

    I actually think the opposite – I think we still lack a left winger. Atsu (according to transfermarkt) is a right footed winger. Ritchie is a right sided player, as is Diame (but is suited to the middle)
    Perez and Gayle can play the left channel, but I don’t think it’s their best position.
    That only leaves Aarons who is very injury prone, and possibly Lazaar depending on whether Rafa sees him as a LB of LW.
    Gouffran would be my choice at the moment based on form.


  6. I said on yesterday’s article that SSN had Junior Hoilett in the 11 free transfers still available and personally I’d have a look at him. He’s still only 26 and plays LW. He’s quick, creative and can score a goal – got to be worth at least a trial to look at him.


  7. Good read Prem, I’m very pleased with the window. Rafa had an almighty job on his hands, not just getting the right calibre of player in for the right positions but shifting out So many duffers or shirkers and sick notes too. He’s managed to get our young lads out on what looks like decent loans where they’ll get stacks of experience too. The winger situation I’m pretty sure will be resolved in January and you have to forgive them as in fairness with Sissy going at such a late stage it would only be a panic rushed buy and there wasn’t much that I fancied seeing come in going off the names being bandied about. We have a pretty good and quite well balanced squad now, certainly capable of doing really well imo.

    Ice, Sham thanks for replies on that finance post I put up on last thread.


  8. Sharpy17:
    I said on yesterday’s article that SSN had Junior Hoilett in the 11 free transfers still available and personally I’d have a look at him.He’s still only 26 and plays LW.He’s quick, creative and can score a goal – got to be worth at least a trial to look at him.

    It wouldn’t hurt to take a look I agree sharpy but he has gone off the boil in recent times


  9. Sharpy re Bournemouth letting Ritchie go, they never wanted to lose him but he wanted to play for the Toon under Rafa and his father in law is a Geordie I believe. See if I can find the article where I read it if I have time.


  10. Re Hoilett – has always looked a good player but never really produces results. Probably something not right between the ears. I wouldn’t bother as no one else is.


  11. I have scheduled in a new Blast from the Past article in for tomorrow morning guys and gals. They are my favourite threads, so looking forward to the reaction 🙂


  12. I agree with Shamrock that if we get promoted we will be able to get our money back on most players we have signed. There was competition from their existing clubs and others and if we get promoted it will mean most had good seasons. I therefore cannot see their stock dropping.

    Apart from the youngsters, who of the loaned out players would you have back if they have good seasons? Probably only Krul and de Jong. The rest have been cleared out or are unlikely to return. So, the main difference I see now is that we will have a squad where everyone is capable of a contribution and is not a passenger, misery-guts-wanting-away or sicknote (hopefully).


  13. Premandup: I agree with your team except Atsu. I have never seen him play so will reserve judgement. I would play with one winger until we figure out if he is any good or until Aarons is fit. They say 8 weeks for Aarons which sounds about right ( I think Rooney was back in 6) and it shouldn’t affect his fitness too much as I think with that sort of injury they can still do weights and cardio and then get back to running after about 4 weeks or so. They just have to wait a bit longer to kick a ball. That’s what I remember from when Rooney had it anyway.


  14. georgio:
    Re Hoilett – has always looked a good player but never really produces results. Probably something not right between the ears. I wouldn’t bother as no one else is.

    Georgio – many said that about Benny mate, and he’s at PSG now ?
    Hoilett has talent and if anyone could rekindle that I reckon Rafa could. At 26 he’d be nee risk with a lot of potential reward if Rafa could get him playing.
    I’m simply saying get him in on trial and have a look at him for a couple of weeks (pay the lad for his time) if he’s looking decent then offer him an incentivise contract.
    He’s still got 4-5 good seasons in his legs so why not? – get him playing again and it could save a £10m plus signing.


  15. Not my Graphic to be fair but can’t complain. Perhaps Dummet and Gouffran on the left at the moment.

    I would play the current team and add one new player per game as they prove themselves in training. I don’t want to see them walk in to the team


  16. Re: the graphic, I selected the team based on our best potential line up using Prem’s formation if that makes sense? I assume Lazaar and Atsu both have potential to be first team players, as many complain about Dummett not being a natural left back, whilst Aarons will never be fit enough to be a consistent starter and Gouffy will not produce the goods regularly and is not fancied by Rafa. I did not bring it up, because I did not want to appear negative about Gouffy’s last performance whilst everybody was feeling good, but his stats for the game were actually pretty sub standard. His shot against the bar was a lovely bit of play though.


  17. I am not that surprised to see a bit of a resurgence from Goufy. Quite a few said (facetiously) that the Championship might be more his level when we were trying to sell him. This might actually be true as he has always been a hard worker. He may also have suffered from the **** manager syndrome as I and others have said may have been the case with Sissoko. Gouffran has suffered more than most by being switched around and hardly ever getting a run in the team so maybe he has more to offer, even though he is unlikely to be needed. If I recall correctly he did have a decent run in the team and scored a few goals one time under Pardew?


  18. Sham and Kim: I read that Evening Standard piece and the best interpretation is that he is a bad writer and didn’t articulate his point correctly. More likely that he doesn’t know what the fck he is talking about. One national, The Star, picked up on it and repeated it as if it were true. Shows how these rumours and lies get spread, and Ed’s blog had a massive debate about it with, admittedly, the vast majority saying it was a load of sh!te.


  19. Eric, I only posted it really cause it’s ridiculous, but then I was starting to think I was missing something obvious. It stands to reason we wouldn’t be stitched up in that scenario that they reported. If he’s sold then they still owe us what ever way you paint it .


  20. Very nice Premand mate. We do have Tiote as a DM as well, at least for the time being. I like your starting 11 though and the 4-4-2. We’d have to play that way for a few games to give it a fair chance. I hope Rafa doesn’t stick with one up front and we will be rotating the starting group with all the games from what Rafa has said. Very interesting days ahead and we have a master at squad management and player selection now instead of a cartoon character like Johnny C. or Steve McShambles.


  21. Shamrock:
    I have scheduled in a new Blast from the Past article in for tomorrow morning guys and gals. They are my favourite threads, so looking forward to the reaction

    mine to mate,must be a age thing 😆 😆


  22. Ugly John has a 40% winning record with his new team.

    P – 5
    W – 2
    D – 2
    L -1

    Another one who seems to have found his level.


  23. I think Carver had about a 40% winning record in Toronto as well. I didn’t really dislike him apart from some of his antics and the stupid things he would come out with. My main criticism was that he was promoted above what he could handle. We have now found out the same is true of Charnley who has done a great job of carrying out Rafa’s wishes but couldn’t handle it when he and Carr shared the helm.


  24. Johnny C. currently manager of Ammonia? What kind of club is that? Do they play in a league or just by themselves? He had a 30% win rate at TFC Eric mate. 12W 12D 16 losses. He left before they could sack him.


  25. Has anybody on here seen the letter from Sissoko to the fans? Have a look but be prepared to vomit mates…..


  26. I believe so Eric mate. He’ll go into a swoon any day now. A lot like Parsnip. Still, he’s got his looks to fall back on…. 🙂


  27. Moussa Sissoko personal message to Newcastle fans via Twitter:

    ‘With all my heart…

    As you know, a new adventure begins for me.

    Despite the difficulties, I decided to join the Tottenham club. This choice was a necessity and I needed a new challenge.

    While I know that this decision can make sad or disappointed Newcastle fans, I want them to know that I will never forget. I’ve always played with heart for them and the club.

    I’ve enjoyed the atmosphere of St James’ Park. I’ve liked living in Newcastle and I’ve found a warmth that contrasted with the cold of this English north.

    This heat around the club, initiated by the fans, has often warmed my heart while I was far from my friends and my family.

    There were good and bad times.

    Relegation was clearly an emotional pain for the whole city. But the heart of this city beats for this club and I have no doubt it will come back very quickly to the top level. It deserves it.

    This heart I felt it beat, scold, laugh, love and hate. But it is brave and warm. Personally, my three years at Newcastle will remain unforgettable. I will never forget it. And it will forever be in my heart and a part of me.

    Thank you all!


    Well I’m almost speechless, now he attempts to find some class, but sadly still deluded.


  28. G2: Pards has got a decent team now. I have said it before but Benteke is a very streaky scorer and I think Pards’ fate will be determined by whether Benteke goes on one of his runs or not. Pards currently has 2 wins in his last 24 league games so he is on a death spiral even worse than he managed at NUFC. If Palace hadn’t have spent I think the cries from Selhurst Park would have been even louder. Waiting for their version of to gain traction and for Troysta’s Pardew radar to kick in.


  29. Kimtoon: we will soon find out if it was the Managers and Moussa’s attitude that affected his game at NUFC or if he really is as streaky as we saw. I doubt if they will fix his end product. Even at the Euros that assist to Payet wasn’t meant and I can only remember him having one decent shot on target along with one that almost cleared the stands.


  30. KIM this pleased me Ime sure it will please you,the year before we signed Siko Levy bid 12.5 mil for him the club wanted 15 mil Levy wouldn’t increase his bid and left it, we went in with only a few months left on his contract and got him for 1.6 mil,so Levy got screwed twice,love it lol


  31. Icedog:
    KIMthis pleased me Ime sure it will please you,the year before we signed Siko Levy bid 12.5 mil for him the club wanted 15 mil Levy wouldn’t increase his bid and left it, we went in with only a few months left on his contract and got him for 1.6 mil,so Levy got screwed twice,love it lol

    😀 Didn’t know that ice, oh my days that’s mint


  32. I genuinely believe Sissoko meant what he wrote. That’s why the bloke will fail massively at Tottenham.


  33. hi all,
    havent visited your site since last season.
    i was the one that apologised for our fans,the last time you went down.

    on the football,i think we will both get promoted. 😉
    but the main reason im on,is because im coming up your fair city,with my two daughters,
    to see a hero of mine.Eric Burdon and the Animals.
    we have even paid to meet and greet him.

    if any of you are going,id love to have a drink with you.


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