We’re still reeling from the rollercoaster that was our 3-3 draw at home to Brentford last Saturday, and there was no doubt our new manager Eddie Howe wants to get us on the front foot more. As fun as that is, and as refreshing in comparison to Bruceball, there is something that’s seriously concerning, and that’s our defence, or lack thereof.

 

My fellow TF scribbler Ordy wrote a very interesting piece on why Javier Manquillo seems to be the most droppable player in this squad, despite being arguably one of the most consistent defenders, who can actually defend whenever he pulls on the black & white. I’m also keen to shine the spotlight on another player who falls into that category, hell he arguably tops it! That player is Federico Fernández.

 

For all the crazy and ridiculous things Steve Bruce did in his time as Nufc manager, dropping Fernandez & Schar for Lascelles & Clark has to be right up there. If I were to put it into non footballing terms, it’s like swapping Ant & Dec for Dick & Dom, they all do the same job, but the other two do it so much better. The fact that Newcastle’s defence is, well quite frankly awful, it’s a real head scratcher as to why Fede couldn’t get his place back in the side.

Perhaps he was one of those who criticised the previous manager’s slack training methods, or complete and utter lack of any plan, and being frozen out was the price he paid? It does appear utterly bat shit crazy that our former manager, a prominent centre half in his playing days, managed to freeze out our best 3 centre backs at the club. Thanks again Steve!

 

When Eddie Howe came in, full of freshness, running, and blowing that whistle, we all thought we’d see the return of Fernandez to the starting XI, but it didn’t happen. Once again we were treated to the chuckle brother double act that was Lascelles & Clark, and watching them struggling to keep up with Premier league forwards, and to even carry out the basics of clearing your lines, and keeping your shape is enough to dampen even the most positive of toon fans. They would honestly struggle to get a game in a top Championship side these days, such is their blatant lack of quality at this level.

 

With Arsenal up next, and no doubt a back to the world job, I really hope to see Fernández back in to marshall a very rocky defence. I certainly feel more comfortable seeing his name on the team sheet, wouldn’t you? Who does he come in for though? We’ve all seen the fall off on Jamael Lascelles in recent years, not only should he not be in the side for me, he shouldn’t be the captain either. He’s gone from a proud, strong leader, to a gutless nowt of a presence on the park. The same cannot be said for Fernández, and for me he should have Jamael’s spot, and the armband.

The stats don’t lie, last season Fernandez won 22 of the 29 tackles he went on for Vs Lascelles 7 of his 14, and with 144 clearances Vs Lascelles 84, in only 5 more games, highlights that Fede is better schooled in the art of defending than Jamael is, yet the skipper keeps starting games, something I’m sure, in time Eddie Howe may address.

 

Newcastle United are desperate for leadership, not just at the back, but throughout the side, but first and foremost, we need to tighten up the loose screw that is our defence, and Fernández certainly provides that, alongside Manquillo, he offers consistency, and a mindset to defend first, which is badly needed, and despite the smell of Bacon passing,this was clearly still evident in both the performances under Jones, and the Brentford game.

 

If we’ve any chance at beating the drop, we need to start getting our best players, in their best positions, as we’re desperate for points. We need to start winning games, and with a dreaded December of fixtures looming, we can’t be going into those games with our current back 3, or we’ll ship goals for fun.

 

By Chris Currie

@wig82