As Eddie’s Mags marched off the north London turf, soaked in rain and success, ambitions and expectations may be starting to change on the Geordie landscape. With those changes being considered in the stands, our ever pragmatic manager will be looking forward to see what he can do with the owners to support what is appearing to look like a push for European football.
Whilst FFP may appear to curtail certain levels of spending in January, there is no doubt in my mind that should there be a chance to get to Europe next season. The owners eyes will be wide open to the opportunity that creates for us a club, and them as a project. There’s equally no doubt, that this playing staff is playing at close to the limit of its capabilities and that isn’t sustainable. Finally, if a club pushing for Europe is using Jacob Murphy and Chris Wood to see a game out, then that club may well struggle to achieve those European ambitions.
As a consequence, I’ve been thinking about what and where we need to improve in our squad to get us to the next stop on our journey – Europe.
Defensively, we are pretty strong at the moment. We have versatility and players who are capable of doing different things in different places across the back line. With that said, we are struggling depth wise should Trippier get injured. If an opportunity arose to get someone in as a cover right back, potentially on loan, I would see that as a bonus but not a “must have”. Someone like Livramento from Southampton. I say someone like, because he’s young and has had Premier League experience, but also crucially, is out with a knee injury. Tariq Lamptey is someone who we have been linked with before his own injury. He is young, quick and talented. He would be a perfect fit for NUFC.
The midfield is where I think we are most exposed depth wise, mainly due to the outstanding quality that some of our players possess there and the jump down in quality in the replacements. I feel a holding midfielder is a must for us. Bruno’s ability to do pretty much whatever he wants on a football pitch is a big bonus for us but his best role is undoubtedly being an 8, someone who can defend and intercept but get forward and be a goal scoring threat. He can help us stay on the front foot and his passing ability facilitates that. As such, someone who can sit behind him would be very important.
I’ve seen Ibrahim Sangare of PSV Eindhoven play a few times this season in the Champions League and domestically and I like him. He’s a good passer of the ball in tight situations and doesn’t look to overplay. He switches the ball well but looks to give the ball to someone who can hurt an opposition. He is good in the air and can score goals from set pieces. He’s also very quick and physical. I don’t think our project is yet at the point of buying established stars so the Kantes of this world are out of reach for now. Whilst I don’t think Sangare is the next Kante, he would be a huge improvement for us in that role.
I also recognise I’m a biased Welshman, but Ethan Ampadu is a brilliant football player. He’s young, has superb technical ability, and has a lovely air of shithouse about him. He can play as a holding midfielder, as a centre back, and even as a full back. I don’t think he’d cost the world and would improve our squad overall. Both these players are also very achievable for us.
I understand the links we’ve seen to Madison or Tielemans and they would be exciting additions for sure. I’m just not sure that either of them fit how we play at the moment. That would involve changing shape or tactics a little and personally I can’t see that happening. A potential move in the summer for one of these players is more realistic in my view.
Where we do need to grow in an attacking sense is out wide. Whilst Almirón is in the form of his life, the Murphys and Frasers of this world need to be moved on. I admire their workrate but they’re simply not good enough for where we want to go. For my money, we need one on either side too – mainly due to ASM’s inability to stay fit for extended periods of time. As a longer term investment, I see Brennan Johnson as a standout star of the future. He has pace, superb technical ability, bucketfuls of confidence, ability to play wide or through the middle, and is a young player who is improving all the time. I assure you he won’t be in Nottingham for long.
Whilst there are plenty of options out there and players who would want to come to nufc, it’s still tough to get someone in January to come in and make an impact. So if possible, I’d be looking for some recruitment from the Premier League. I like Harvey Barnes a lot. Gordon at Everton is clearly a dick but I like him too.
I also wonder if Brighton would be interested in selling Trossard? He’s a quick player who loves committing others and running at his opponents. He may lack the consistency to really be effective week in week out at the top level but he would be an improvement for us.
Finally I feel like a loan move for someone like Lucas Moura could be an option. Someone who isn’t getting much game time in London and someone who I think has ability which isn’t being utilised. Someone who needs a coach who will look to improve him and get the best from him.
A bit of a gamble could be had with Danjuma at Villereal. He has had his injury worries but is fast and is getting goals. He has Premier League experience with Bournemouth where he scored 19 times in 53 games. Not bad considering they got relegated in one of those seasons. He’s scored 4 in 8 this year and will likely start for the Dutch in their World Cup opener against Senegal.
The likelihood is that none of these players will sign for Newcastle. But these are the type of players I hope we sign. Exciting, dynamic players who can make a difference as soon as they arrive. There are also other areas we can of course improve on in the longer term, as our bench can look weak at times.
I believe that Eddie and his team do know where we need changes though and he’ll have a plan. The days of Steve Bruce probably writing down names on the back of a fag packet, which Mike Ashley laughs at and ignores, are over. Whoever we get in January will 100% be an improvement and will take us forward.
This whole project, is something which will be a long time in the making. Five or so windows to come before we are competing for things in the sense of winning in my view. Small steps are required right now, before we can make the type of moves which take us from 5th to 4th and the Champions League, and that’s why I’ve suggested the names I have. Mind you, with Eddie at the helm, those steps are looking more achievable all the time.
Dai Rees – @colemans_dream