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Newcastle United have had their moments in the sun, but this season has yet again been topsy-turvy for the Toon Army. Who should remain and who should suffer the chop at the end of the campaign?
This is arguably the easiest part of the squad to analyse. Tim Krul should be kept. The Dutchman is arguably in the top 7 category of best keepers in the league. Rob Elliot is a 50-50 option. The ex-Charlton man should be allowed to leave when Karl Darlow comes in as backup to Krul. Elliot has had an average time at the club and any decent offer should be accepted with a mutual parting of ways.
Jak Alnwick impressed against Chelsea on his PL debut, but nevertheless I’d expect him to leave on a free as his contract runs out this summer.
We have young Euro U17 champion Freddie Woodman rising through the ranks. He should be a good enough option as third choice. Signing a veteran to be third choice would be another consideration, but the problems in this area are nothing compared to the outfield positions.
Janmaat has been one of the best performers this season for the Geordies and must be kept (though we all know that Mike Ashley will no doubt be looking to sell him on for a profit this summer). Haidara, who joined the club in January 2013, has stepped up to the plate when he has featured this season. He has proven enough to be the starting left back for [insert head coach’s name here]’s Newcastle side next season.
Ryan Taylor has not fully gotten over his injury problems, but he should be kept for at least one more season.
The club need to sign a left back to compete against Haidara for that spot on the team sheet. Other than that, things should theoretically (although somehow this doesn’t truly work for Newcastle) be fine if the club keeps the three aforementioned options and signs an additional left back. Paul Dummett can cover at left back if required.
First of all, Fabricio Coloccini should be allowed to leave St James’ Park this summer. Since that season in which he was voted into the PFA Team of the Year, Colo has declined to the extent that he should be replaced in the Magpies’ starting XI. He has not been consistent enough – same goes for most of the players – and has too frequently had lapses in concentration as well as poor decision-making. He has done well for the club overall but it’s time to cut ties before he taints his legacy with poor performances.
Williamson is not good enough to be a regular in the team and should either be sold or, at best, be relegated to fourth choice. Steven Taylor, like Elliot above, is a 50-50. I’d be in favour of keeping him; he should be let go only if the club brings in a centreback of higher quality.
Paul Dummett has impressed enough to both retain his squad spot AND be given a chance as a starting centre-half. Versatile enough to play both centrally and on the left (for example, he did have Raheem Sterling in his pocket in the 1-0 win earlier this season), the local lad is expected to eventually become a starter at centre-half for Newcastle. If eventually, why not the present? Give him a chance and I doubt he’d let us down.
Curtis Good has not accomplished anything noteworthy since signing from Australian outfit Melbourne Heart(Melbourne City FC). A loan move in 2015/16 would be best for the 22-year-old Australian.
The same applies for Lubo Satka, who has the potential but is not ready for first-team action. The gap between the first-team and the U21 Premier League is too big and a loan move is needed to bridge that gap.
At least two signings are needed in this area. One has to be of sufficient quality to slot straight into the starting XI. The other “signing” would be Jamaal Lascelles, signed last summer from Nottingham Forest.
First of all, Cheick Tiote has served the club well but, like Coloccini, it is now time for him and the club to part ways. His frequent disciplinary troubles were condoned when he was performing well in his first few years on Tyneside, but his drop in performance level and injury proneness mean that he should be sold.
Mehdi Abeid is ready to make the step up and has impressed whenever he has been on the pitch this season. Abeid has returned from his 2013/14 loan spell at Panathinaikos looking and playing like a man transformed. The Algerian international has what it takes to be a starter in central midfield at St James Park. Jack Colback – the “Ginger Pirlo” – has been a great signing on a free from Sunderland and must be kept.
Vurnon Anita should be sold. The ex-Ajax man has not done enough to prove his worth and should ideally be replaced in the summer. According to those who work in the NUFC academy, such as Peter Beardsley, Olivier Kemen has the tools required to make the step up to senior level football in the PL. Personally, I feel that the France U-19 captain should be given a first-team opportunity for what remains of this 2014/15 campaign.
The club is stuck in “midtable mediocrity” and there is nothing to play for other than PL prize money re table positions. Kemen should be given a chance and have a review in the summer, where he’d either stay at the club as a first-team squad player(and also feature for the NUFC U-21s) or go out on loan.
At least one signing is needed in central/holding midfield, two if Tiote is sold. One of the two signings must be of sufficient quality to push for a starting role from the get-go.
Attacking Midfield and Wingers
Moussa Sissoko and Siem de Jong must be kept at the club. The former is a no-brainer player to hold on to and the latter has not had any real chance to show the fans what he can do. Gabriel Obertan is a 50-50 but should be sold in favour of signing a useful squad player on lower wages.
Remy Cabella has kicked on since Alan Pardew’s exit and is more than good enough to be a key player in 2014/15. He is comparable to Hatem Ben Arfa but the ex-Montpellier star has a much better defensive work ethic than Ben Arfa. The Gallic flair that the diminutive playmaker brings to the table harks back to the days of Kevin Keegan’s “Entertainers” era.
Jonas Gutierrez should probably be released in the summer. He is approaching the twilight years of his career and should be allowed to leave for more regular action elsewhere – perhaps a return to Velez Sarsfield.
Yoan Gouffran looked to be a decent signing when he first joined the club but has since proven to be not good enough to be kept any longer. The Frenchman does not offer enough either in attack, which is his job, or defensively tracking back to warrant being given any more chances.
Since bursting onto the scene in pre-season last summer, Rolando Aarons is currently one of the most promising young wingers in England and must be kept at the club. His contract expires in 2016 and contract talks have not gone smoothly as there is no reported resolution in sight.
Two or three signings are needed if Obertan, Jonas and Gouffran are all sold/released in the summer.
Ayoze Perez is currently the jewel in the Newcastle crown and his breakthrough was not expected. After all, he was initially set to be brought through slowly, first going through the U-21 team. The Spain U-21 forward is well and truly a star in-the-making and we can only hope that Mike Ashley doesn’t decide to cash in at the end of this season. The vultures are circling, namely the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City.
After signing from Bundesliga side Freiburg, Papiss Cisse had as perfect a first six months at a club that any player or fan could wish for. Since then, he has had a topsy turvy time on Tyneside and is should be up for consideration as to whether he should be sold. He has been the club’s top scorer this season, with impressive goals-to-minutes statistics, but should be replaced if the club brings in another number 9. Facundo Ferreyra has done zilch since moving from Shakhtar Donetsk and will be leaving.
Emmanuel Riviere has not been worth the £6 million spent to take him from Monaco. From his displays thus far, he is only a squad option but should be given another season to prove his worth. Adam Armstrong is in an extremely similar situation as the aforementioned Olivier Kemen. Armstrong is too good for the U-21s but is not yet a true 1st-teamer. I’d be well in favour of keeping him in a squad role and the club pushing him along gradually but another part of me thinks he should be loaned out to a lower division club to whom he’d be a key player.
Only one signing is needed up front and he has to be of sufficient standard to immediately push for the lone striking role. Ayoze’s ability to play anywhere in attack would mean that he should play more than enough minutes next season to continue his development.
A major squad revamp is required, with key signings needed to improve the spine of the team. With Mike Ashley at the helm, the probability of cup runs and trophies are bleak.
The least the fans deserve would be a competitive team that gives everything and plays with an attack-minded philosophy. Much like the recent second half against Arsenal. Much like Keegan’s “Entertainers”.
Written by Mark Ooi
Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkOoiZW
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