As Steve Bruce’s battered Mags succumbed to another defeat on Sunday to West Ham, I tried to think of where we go from here. That sounds fairly dramatic but the reality is, if something doesn’t change before the end of the transfer window, the only place we go from here is down.

That’s because, we’ve actually already gone backwards, as staying put in relation to our rivals who are progressing and investing, means we are further behind them than we were. The signing of Joe Willock has been (rightly) hailed as a big moment for Newcastle United. A young English player, signed on a long term contract for a solid sum of money. The reality is, it’s kept us in the same position we were in at the end of last season. It’s papered over a few cracks in a sense, as the fanfare which welcomed Willock has worked wonders in helping us forget that we still have real issues in our squad. Until West Ham rolled into Toon.

The fullback area saw us in all sorts of trouble against the hammers. Something which will not come as a surprise to most. This is what happens when you have two wingers playing out of position. The TF match report and podcast will dissect the defensive shambles but we all saw what happened so I won’t go into it. This is a key area we could and should have improved upon over this summer though. And yet, nothing. In fact defensively you could quite easily make the argument we are weaker, having let Lejeune go without adding someone else.

My suggestions, often with a Welsh bias for those who have seen the Writers Block previously, are two players who are achievable and talented. Both willing to make changes in their careers I would think. Joe Rodon is a talented footballer who reads the game excellently. He’s strong in the air, tall, brave as you like and has a decent turn of pace. He excelled for Wales in their recent World Cup qualifiers and despite the defensive shambles against Denmark in the last 16 where Wales conceded 4, he had a strong Euro’s too. He can pick a pass and will already have a relationship with Freddy Woodman if the youngster is to continue in goal. He wasn’t on the bench for Spurs against Man City yesterday and with benches as big as they are in the Premier League, it seems like his playing time may be limited. Whilst Spurs may not sell him, a loan deal could be beneficial to Spurs and him as he continues his development at a Premier League side. And he would markedly improve a backline which yesterday contained Emil Krafth….

At full back, there are two issues. We have one person who is a perfect fit to be an attacking wing back in the system we play, in Jamaal Lewis. He has no confidence but is technically a good player who needs game time. As much as I like Ritchie, and his attacking capabilities were there for all to see yesterday, he cannot defend high balls effectively. Something else which was on show yesterday. Lewis needs to be coached both to improve his on field issues (namely decision making in my view) because that’s what the coaches are paid to do. Improve and develop your talent. We have a player who can play the role. Use him and improve him.

The second issue is right back and we have made such a mess of what to do and who does it, that it’s become an almost unsolvable problem. On the law of averages, we were bound to get a performance out of someone who plays in that position eventually. Especially given how often we rotated. The person who ended up taking their chance was Jacob Murphy, who to his credit played well at the end of the season. The plan however, seems to be rotate until it works. And when it doesn’t work anymore, start the cycle again. Manquillo and Krafth both didn’t take their chances to play that role effectively, so it fell to Murphy. That is not a long term strategy.

For me, Conor Roberts is a great solution who fits into our strategic plan. Swansea’s right back is as fit as they come and is rapid too. He scored goals and got assists in the Championship last season and has scored goals for Wales – including a crucial goal in the last minute of the game against Turkey in Baku over the summer. He can stand to improve his decision making, as sometimes his is too committed to attacking rather than defending but there is no doubt that he is more than capable of playing Premier League football. To go with this, Swansea are a selling club. They are willing to sell anyone if the price is right and if £15m got Joe Rodon to go to Spurs, I think £8m is a fee which would easily prize away a talented, young international footballer.

Whilst the fundamental issues of Bruce’s management remain (why did Krafth play centre back whilst two centre backs sat on the bench, for example), and these two players don’t solve all our problems, it would show commitment to progression. As I said in the opening lines, our squad and starting 11 has gone backwards compared to others as we are standing still. No attempt has been made to solve the glaring issues in our squad. Rodon and Roberts, or similar signings would at least demonstrate a recognition that there are problems to be solved. This may require Bruce to be reflective, and proactive. Two words I traditionally would not have used to describe our manager.

Whatever happens and whoever comes in, if anyone, there needs to be a reality check. Movement in the market before the end of August is a necessity, not an option. Otherwise, for all the magic Saint Max can weave, and the goals Wilson will score, it will all be in vain if we continue to defend in a manner that would make Jean Alain Boumsong blush.

Dai Rees – @colemans_dream