Newcastle Utd – Stay in Place or Fall from Grace?


This summer, Newcastle Utd will reach a point where they have two options – Invest in Quality and show ambition or face mediocrity for the next ten years or so. Here are the issues facing Mike Ashley, and the choices he has…

The Squad

The season’s end could well bring about a complete overhaul of the playing staff, both youth and senior – with Papiss Cisse looking like leaving either now or in the summer, Shola Ameobi seems to be heading out as well as the loan duo of Luuk de Jong and Loic Remy – possibly meaning Newcastle will be without a striker come July.

I strongly believe that Loic Remy will see Yohan Cabaye’s departure as a sign that Newcastle will not be in Europe next season, and try and secure a move to a bigger, more ambitious club (ala Cabaye). I also think that de Jong will do well, and be signed up for the mooted £8-9m fee set.

Take a look at the rest of the Squad – Krul, Santon, Debuchy, Coloccini, Anita, Sissoko, Ben Arfa etc – very good. When the first 11 is out, Newcastle are and can be very dangerous, beating Chelsea and Spurs as well as Man Utd (not the accomplishment it used to be, but still). However, when there are injuries like last season, relegation was a possibility. Sylvain Marveaux, Gabby Obertan, Steven Taylor, Ryan Tayor, Shola Ameobi and Cisse are all not good enough. All are likely to be sold on this summer.

Fringe players like James Tavernier, Haris Vuckic, Michael Richardson and Gael Bigirimana are also not good enough, when given a chance they have failed to shine – all 3 would make fantastic Championship players, however. The Journal seem to get the idea all of these will be available for transfer this summer.

Coloccini Conundrum

Fabricio Coloccini clearly wants a move back to his native Argentina – but San Lorenzo nor any other club can afford him (the Club seem to be asking for around £6-7m), or his £80,000 a week wage. They are reliant on Newcastle letting him go for peanuts. Should he go, it would leave at Centre Back Williamson, Taylor and Yanga Mbiwa – who without him all look distinctly average (Williamson has been impressive of late, despite Coloccini’s absence). What to do? Who knows!

Youth Squad

Gone are the days where Newcastle produced top talent like Alan Shearer, Michael Carrick and so on. They seem to have problems bringing through players. In the past 7 years the only ones who have are Andy Carroll, Tim Krul, Paul Dummett and Sammy Ameobi. Dennis Wise’ attempt to bring the crème de la crème of talent from around the globe failed miserably – Kadar, Soderburg, Zamblera and the likes have all disappeared without trace, so I think it is time to go back to producing British talent. The saving grace is in just a few youngsters – Adam Campbell, currently at St Mirren – looks a top talent, and a future England striker. Adam Armstrong is pulling up tree’s at Under 17 level for England and won himself a place on the Newcastle bench against Norwich. Then you have Remi Streete – a sought after centre back. Curtis Good does not seem to have fulfilled the potential stardom tipped that followed him from Australia – a loan spell at Bradford is all we have seen of him. If Taylor went, could he fill the 4th CB spot?

Rather than buy three or four strikers, will Newcastle finally blood Campbell? He is doing well at St Mirren – Dummett and Krul both went into the first team after spending time in Scotland and have done well. What’s the point having a youth team if you buy a new player whenever a space comes up? Well, we will see!

Management Structure

First are foremost – Mike Ashley is a businessman – and quite a good one at that, but how can he fail to see the potential money building a competitive team? If he put forward even £20-30m plus sales this summer he could build a team that could compete for the Top 6 regularly, and collect the new TV money that has rocketed by 60%. In Graham Carr he has one of the top scouts in world football, who will pick out some outstanding talent at ‘Mike Ashley’ prices.

He has turned the club into what is call “A Selling Club” in some people’s eyes. But is that a bad thing? Look at Porto and Benfica – they regularly sell stars, and use proceeds to bring in young talent, ready to turn into stars, and make more money – they are two of the biggest teams in the world! Selling Carroll got Newcastle into Europe. Without that money I doubt they would have, as it got them 6 or 7 very talented players like Demba Ba, Davide Santon and Cabaye etc.

Kinnear – what does he actually do? Who knows, but in two windows whilst employed he has managed to sign two loan strikers, that could both leave them in the lurch come June. Derek Llambias got some stick, but at least he did something, and made attempts to communicate with fans, and not offend everyone with jibes like “I’m more intelligent that the fans”.

Pardew is another issue – his excuses are lame, bordering on pathetic when Newcastle lose, usually fitness related, or the wind…But on the other hand, when he gets it right – Newcastle play some lovely football. Defensively he is very good, offensively he leaves a lot to be desired. He needs to work on his attacking side, take some pointers from Peter Beardsley maybe.

Ben Arfa

Now Cabaye has gone, this could be the man to lead the attacking force. Statistically, one of the most creative player in the league – dribbles, chances created, and some cracking goals. At times greedy – he could hold the key. Against Norwich, he was incredible, and god only knows how Newcastle did not win at least 2/3-0. He has to start centrally, as he is wasted on the wing.


I think Carr has done fantastically, finding real gems. But now it is time to move on from France, Grenier and Cabella deals could happen but the prices are beginning to go. Both of those are going to cost £10-£12m, with Cabella looking likely in the summer. According to Mark Douglas from the Newcastle Journal, Carr is now switching focus towards Switzerland now, as well as Holland, Belgium and Portugal – a good move.

Now I’m not self proclaimed expert – but can you see top quality players like Mathieu Debuchy or Tim Krul – who has been attracting interest from AC Milan’s new boss Clarence Seedorf, wanting to stay in an average team who will never get into Europe? No, like Cabaye they will all seek pastures new and venture off into Europe in search of an ambitious club who will take them places – and once more Newcastle will be a team where players go for a nice pay-day, mercenaries of such – and set the side back into deep financial trouble. How does that sound, Mr Ashley?

So, in conclusion – there are so many issues to deal with this summer – with about 6-8 new senior squad players needed, a revamp on the youth side of things, shift of focus from France to other regions and most importantly sorting out Coloccini – he is the linchpin in the team! Mike Ashley has to make some big decision – and if he gets it wrong, it could be decades before Newcastle seriously compete again.