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Newcastle midfielders and the ‘wafer-thin mint’

Posted on June 26th, 2011 | 32 Comments |

How many midfielders can Newcastle United cope with?
A bellyful of midfielders
Newcastle United seems to have been accumulating more midfielders recently, but does this give us a problem when it comes to keeping them all happy?

We seem to be on a mission to sign a fair few midfielders this transfer window. We already have Cabaye and Marveaux to add to the existing tribe of Ben Arfa, Jonas, Tiote, Barton, Guthrie, Gosling, Raylor and Ferguson. Not to mention Smith (and please don’t). And if speculation is anything to be believed we’re not done yet.

There’s still the possibility of signing someone like Sissoko, N’Zogbia, Matuidi, Barnetta or some as yet unknown midfield target. Adding just one more presents us with a problem. A nice problem in some ways, but a problem nevertheless.

The problem I’m talking about is who we leave out.

We already have five or six midfielders who, I’m sure, will feel they qualify as first choice selections. If we bring in one or two more we could end up with seven or eight midfielders all vying for position. Granted we could lose the likes of Barton, Jonas and Guthrie in this transfer window, which would ease the selection ‘headache’ a bit, but there’s absolutely nothing to say that we’ll lose any of them yet.

It’s the sort of situation a manager loves but then you have the problem of how you keep the second choice midfielders happy when they may have good reason to think they would be a first choice selection in many other teams.

Some managers operate squad rotation systems and others manage clubs of such prestige that players are willing to put up with some time on the bench and then attempt to show what they’ve got when they get the opportunities. With teams that don’t fit into one of those categories, it has to be said that benched second-choicers often tend to be of the ‘squad player’ variety.

Of those that aren’t, some will behave professionally and simply wait for a chance to demonstrate why they should be selected. Alas I have underpants that are more professional than certain other players – those who can be inclined to sulk and kick up a fuss about either being substituted or benched.

As I said, it’s typically perceived as a problem managers love but it still needs thought if we don’t want supposedly decent players moving on after a season.

It’s a bit like me in Chinese restaurants. I tend to order everything on the menu and then I find I can’t do justice to all the food. It’s a case of having eyes bigger than my belly and I’m often doing a Mr Creosote impersonation by the end the meal, cringing at the thought of a ‘wafer-thin mint’.

However, I digress. The ultimate answer, of course, is to become one of those teams with enough prestige to have skill in depth, which means at the very least playing in Europe and preferably winning some domestic trophies to boot.

Now that would be nice!

Maître d’: Ah, good afternoon, sir; and how are we today?
Mr. Creosote: Better.
Maître d’: Better?
Mr. Creosote: Better get a bucket, I’m gonna throw up.


NUFCBlog Author: Hugh de Payen

I’m a baby-boomer of the punk rock persuasion, currently exiled in Somerset for crimes committed in a previous life where locals keep trying to poison me with something called ‘scrumpy’. Hates sprouts, coat-hangers, Cilla Black, ornaments, Steven Seagull movies and 50 Cent (he’s not worth 10).

Hugh de Payen has written 634 articles on this blog.

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32 Responses

  1. Rumour has it that we’re also in advanced talks with Brown Fox, the large breasted red skin winger. Just to compound the problem further.

  2. Hugh

    ‘We already have Cabaye and Marveaux to add to the existing tribe of Ben Arfa, Jonas, Tiote, Barton, Guthrie, Gosling, Raylor and Ferguson…’

    My predictions of those mentioned is, I suspect Ben Arfa will play in the hole behind the striker whoever that might be. Tiote and Cabaye will be in the middle whilst Marveaux will be on the left and Jonas on the right.

    Barton and Guthrie will be sold. Gosling and Raylor will be on the bench and Ferguson will be wondering what he has to do to get a game.

  3. MrT76 says:
    June 26, 2011 at 11:29 am

    “Rumour has it that we’re also in advanced talks with Brown Fox, the large breasted red skin winger.”

    Pardew would definitely be interested in adding a pair of large breasts on the flank, though I’m sure that that Tommy Brown would like to keep a very firm grip on Brown Fox. Fulchester’s invisible striker, Johnny X, might be a more realistic target.

  4. Isnt it amazing – while most people are running round saying we are about to lose Barton, Smith, Jonas and everybody else, thi sis the first article that says there is nothing to show that.
    So what happened? Did common sense break out while no-one was looking?
    “we could end up with 7 or 8 midfielders vying for a place”
    Wouldn’t that be something like, ooh I dont know, competition for every midfiled position?
    Isn’t that what the last 8 managers have been trying to achieve?
    So – is that actually a problem?
    Alan Smith has been sitting on his arse for years picking up his 60K a week, hardly pushing to play.
    So the problem is, we could end up with too many quality players who all want to play first team football?
    Well – that’s a bugger!

  5. Tiote and Cabaye are the only midfielders we can be sure of, imo.

    Likely sold – Gutherie (3m to Birm),Smith (West Ham/Leeds), Barton (west ham, leeds, arsenal etc)

    Likely Injured/niggled out of a regular start spot – Gosling, Marv,

    Ferguson unlikely to push 1st team, i think this highlights Jonas as a player to stay – we need a reliable/fit proven PL player.

  6. dont think ferguson would be used as a midfielder left back yes speaking about left backs man u are in for the the celtic left back cant remember his name but he is a like for like for jose

  7. nufc337 says:
    June 26, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    “thats the one think we should go for him but think man u will get to him first”

    You’ve already given up hope of Enrique staying nufc337? Or do you just think we should go for him anyway>

  8. havent given up hope if the situation turns on its head and jose happens to leave we should go for izaguirre. the jose situation has died down a little a good thing??

  9. @Worky

    Agreed, Johnny X would be the perfect foil for Ba and, dare I say it, the man capable of filling the famous No.9 shirt. I hear he has a release clause in his contract of a mere £2m. Word has it that were he to sign for us, then Shakin Stevens would be eager to follow. A fantastic double swoop I’m sure you agree and infinitely more realistic than some of the utter sh!te that gets bandied about on a Sunday.

  10. Not sure of the legality of playing Brown Fox as she is female, although it may put bums on seats which would please our esteemed owner. I’m also sure that playing an invisible striker might go against the fair play rules. So AP will probably still have to go for the likes of Erdinc etc.

    Worky in reply to a much earlier thread, I was not disparaging your musical abilities. I have read enough of this blog to realise that there are many talented individuals who no doubt shine in other fields of literary and artistic endevour and the collected I.Q of all contributors is far higher than any other blog. ;)

  11. “endeavour” that looks more correct!!

    On a different note does any one else think the bowling action of Malinga look a little sus., I find it puzzling that none of the commentators ever question it.

  12. @Grumpy

    If you can show me where in the FIFA rule book it stipulates that a team is not allowed to field an invisible striker, I’ll bare my @rse

  13. MrT76, Ha, you can’t fool me you’ll probably make yourself invisible whilst you do it.

    Although I didn’t say it was against any present rules, I do think the FA would clamp down quickly who tried that ploy.

  14. Grumpy Old-Toon says:
    June 26, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    “Although I didn’t say it was against any present rules, I do think the FA would clamp down quickly who tried that ploy.”

    If I were Mike Ashley, my plan would be to bring in a team of mad scientists to develop a time machine which could make players like Alan Shearer and Peter Beardsley 21 again. The FA would probably smell a rat when they saw Alan Shearer running out with a full head of hair though.

  15. Hugh de Payen says:
    June 26, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    “Oy, the receding (or preferably completely receded) hairline is the new sexy.”

    So why are all those ex cricketers on the telly gannin’ for hair transplants Hugh?

  16. Hugh, it’s always been something of a roulette wheel for myself follicly speaking. My mother’s side of the family were all like Samuel Beckett, ie they had those thick crowns of white hair right into their ‘nineties. On the other hand, my Dad’s lot started gannin’ as bald as coots as soon as they’d grown up.

  17. Milner says:

    “Tiote and Cabaye are the only midfielders we can be sure of, imo”

    Sorry Tiote’s OK but what evidence is there that Cabaye will become the de facto CM ? Like Ba and Marveaux we’re buying “promise” on these players until they actually start to produce.

    As others have said before it took Colo, Enrique and Jose time to settle in and unless we have JB as some form of insurance, we’re in danger of going with four or five untested players or crocks in midfield and attack next season.

  18. AndyMac says:
    June 26, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    “…or crocks in midfield and attack next season.”

    Andy, from what I’ve been hearing from my researches, we could have two ticking time bombs on our hands with Ba’s knee and Marveaux’s groin. I hope I’m wrong, but Ashley has certainly taken something of a gamble on these freebies.

  19. Gosling and Ben Arfa are still question marks for me on account of their fitness. Marveux may also be in this camp, but maybe not. Ferguson could end up on load, which would probably do him a world of good. Given that, having a decent pack of midfielers would be a good thing. Then there’s Wayne Routledge to sort out too.

  20. In which case Hugh, I have been sexy for a very long time, haven’t exactly been fighting the lasses off though. Perhaps a bath of “Lynx” as well, can we mention products on the blog?

  21. Tripp when you say Ferguson “on load” is there something we don’t know, is he an android perhaps from the same agent of Brown Fox and Johnny X. :)

  22. To digress further whilst I am talking to myself.

    Hugh, I don’t know if you have ever seen a human stomach. I saw one at the Body Worlds thingy, where that Austrian (or German) bloke plastifys sliced up bit of people and puts them on display. It’s not much bigger than a fist, so a meal at an all you can eat chinese buffet is one hell of a challenge to it. Had one recently and felt like a beached whale afterwards.

  23. Grumpy Old-Toon says:
    June 26, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    “Hugh, I don’t know if you have ever seen a human stomach.”

    Grumpy, I’ve seen my own stomach from the inside a few times.

  24. I tend to avoid looking at my stomach too much in the hope that it will go away. Or at least reduce in size.

    I have a fairly good appetite but the thing is I don’t eat Chinese often because my wife hates it, so when I do I just order everything.

    As to my follicly-challenged self. I started receding in my early 30’s and a few months ago I simply got rid of the lot which, in my dreams at least, makes me a sex god.

  25. I think we are bringing players in anticipation of imminent departures as well as filling holes in the existing squad. We went through the better part of last season with essentially 1 fully fit winger. There is room for another winger, perhaps 2 if Jonas leaves.

    I think we need to turn an eye to defense. I would like to see a solid no-nonsense CB come in and maybe a RB. It’s key we make moves to strengthen all aspects of our squad.

  26. First off, to the comment about adjustment to the PL, French players traditionally transition to the league faster than Spanish and Latin American players, or at least so it seems, so I would think our new recruits would have a better time of it than Enrique and Colo did. Very different style of play to what they’re used to growing up, that the French, Dutch, and African players seem to take to much more quickly. Perhaps the numbers don’t back me up, but that’s how I perceive it. That said, both Marveaux and Ben Arfa have completely passed medicals, as has been reported by the doctors who cleared them (Marveaux did indeed passed both Liverpool’s and Newcastle’s exams, and Ben Arfa was fully cleared by Clairefontaine, who I’m inclined to believe given their pedigree). Same with Ba, who apparently DID pass the Newcastle medical. I’m admittedly worried too, due to our injury history the last few years (not including the odd de Jonging), but if the likes of Barton and Taylor can free themselves of the injury bug, I’ll keep the faith in the new lads until I look silly :) Also, keep in mind, we’d have had gotten the exact same number of games out of the historically crocked Carroll that Liverpool did in the second half, so if Ben Arfa, Cabaye, Marveaux, Ba, and whoever else comes our way can give us more than half a season of top-flight play and goals, they’re already doing better than our last ‘saviour’. Just sayin…..