One of our regular writers, Steve Watson penned this piece for us at true faith but instead of getting it into the next issue of the fanzine we thought it might be better used online to kick off another one of those true faith : DISCUSSION DAYS we are quite fond of.
Have a read of Steve’s article on the players he thinks we should keep and bin and let us know your thoughts via the comment boxes below.
Comings and Goings
After another season of complete mediocrity, our reclusive owner faced the TV cameras and announced that the club could punch above its weight in the transfer market. This led many to believe that new boss Steve McClaren will be given sizeable funds to redesign an ailing team; however, what do we do with the current squad? I’m going to crack out my best Dutch accent (see YouTube video of McClaren after getting the Twente job) and try to figure out who’s staying and who is leaving Tyneside this summer.
In the goalkeeper department, we have already released Jak ‘Hopelessly out of his depth’ Alnwick leaving us with Tim Krul, Rob Elliot, and Freddie Woodman. These will be joined by new signing Karl Darlow from Nottingham Forest.
Tim Krul – Keep
Must be retained and hopefully will want to stay and be a first team regular with the
upcoming European Championships looming. Tim reminds me a lot of Shay Given, excellent shot stopper but found lacking when dealing with crosses and requires work on his kicking. This season, despite many ricks, Krul has made some fine saves especially when left one on one with an opposition player. He may benefit playing behind a better defence whether that is at Newcastle remains to be seen.
Rob Elliot – Get Rid
Rob hasn’t played a massive part since his strange signing from Charlton and has been limited to cup game duty. In his 16 Premier League appearances he hasn’t exactly shone and was sent off needlessly at QPR last year. The arrival of Darlow suggests his time here is limited and a move to a Championship level side will probably materialise this summer.
Freddie Woodman – Keep
Emerging on the scene due to injuries, Freddie was pretty much our second choice keeper from Christmas but failed to make an appearance. A regular for England at Youth level, Fred is a highly rated young keeper and with a season or two of experience through loans under his belt; we could finally have a talent come through from our academy. The jury is still out on this one but can’t see any positives from releasing him at this stage.
Our defence has been much maligned this year, rightly so, but it is in defence where one of the stars of the season emerged. Looking ragged and without leadership, we conceded far too many goals and at times looked no better than a league two side. Do we need wholesale changes or can the current crop of defenders redeem themselves this year, we’ve already added Jamaal Lascelles to our squad but he has zero top level experience. I have no idea where Ryan Taylor’s best position is but as we’ve released him, I don’t have to worry about it.
Fabricio Coloccini – Get Rid
This was one of the tougher ones to call as Colo has been a loyal servant to the club, we’ll gloss over the whole wanting to go home saga. This season has been a nightmare for Colo, he’s looked woefully out of his depth and as captain has barely faced the press, this is almost unheard of from captains of other clubs. Colo doesn’t offer a threat from attacking set pieces and has done little to prevent goals at the other end; add to this a senseless sending off at Everton that left us without any recognised centre backs for a crucial period of the season means his time is up and maybe he can finally get his move home.
Mike Williamson – Get Rid
If Colo’s season was a nightmare then Willo’s was a bloody disaster, culminating in John Carver publicly stating that Willo got himself sent off purposely against Leicester to avoid playing in the relegation run in. The sole target of our set piece routine has barely got off the ground, let alone win a header this season. Lacking any sort of pace, which anyone partnering Colo would need, leaves Willo vulnerable to any attacker with a modicum of pace. Sent off twice this season and only notching once, Willo leaving would give us the chance to reassess our set piece options and not just lump it to Willo at the back post. Never really a Premier League quality player, I’m sure he would find a home at a mid table championship side.
Massadio Haidara – Keep
Missing since February due to injury, Haidara is another the jury is out on. The victim of some poor tackles has not helped his cause but in the few appearances made to date, he has looked a genuine attacking threat in an attacking full back role. I’d like to see how he fares with a full season of playing behind him. He has age on his side as well and will hopefully develop into both a defensive and attacking asset.
Daryl Janmaat – Keep
When I referred earlier to a star of the season I had Janmaat in mind. Already a big favourite with the crowd, I hope he remains at the club next season. I wrote about him at length in issue 119 (get it on back copy it’s a cracking article) so wont dwell too much on it here but he really has been a quality find and if we can sign more players with his quality, attitude and price tag we’ll be in healthy shape next season. McClaren will be aware of him from his time in Holland and should use him as one of the spine in which we build the team around.
Steven Taylor – Keep
A player who splits opinion amongst many but a player I reckon we should keep. Every side needs a defender who is willing to put his body on the line and with Taylor we have just that. Despite his limited skill set, he is an all or nothing defender and offers a scoring threat from set plays. There are several question marks over his fitness as he has suffered a string of season ending injuries over the past few seasons.
Paul Dummett – Keep
In a similar mould to Steven Taylor, Dummett should remain in the team. He has put in some decent performances and has the club at heart. I know loving a club is not necessarily a good reason to keep a player but we need players who will give everything for the club. I think Dummett gets a bit of a rough ride and could develop into a decent centre back given the time to develop and a decent partner accompanying him at the heart of defence.
Recently midfield has been the strength of the team with players like Cabaye, Nolan, Barton and Ben Arfa providing fight, goals an assists in abundance. However, we’ve become a soft touch in this area with opposition midfields regularly outfighting us meaning that there is very little support for our attacks or we are constantly trying to win back possession. Whether this has been through a dramatic loss of form or sheer knacker clenching inconsistency it’s an area that the club needs to ensure is strengthened during the summer. We’re already a man down having chosen to let Jonas go, I feel that we could have given him a years extension to ensure we are not light on numbers as we were this season.
Moussa Sissoko – Keep
Fecking frustrating is the only way I can describe Sissoko, sometimes looks like a world-beater other times looks like a league two player. He started his career with a bang but since then has been massively inconsistent, he doesn’t provide enough goals or assists but I still think there is a very good player in there. He can be our Yaya Toure at his best and funnily enough looked like it in our win at the Etihad in the league cup. Build a new midfield around him and we will see him shine.
Vurnon Anita – Keep
Not the most popular player heading into the month of May but committed and controlled displays in our final two home games convinced me that Big Vurn should still be part of our plans going forward. He does possess the technical skills you’d expect from a product of the Ajax academy but he showed a bottle for a fight and can play in several positions, which is an asset for any squad.
Siem de Jong – Keep
One of the biggest disappointments for me this season was that we didn’t see enough of Siem, every time he appeared he looked like scoring. A reoccurrence of a collapsed lung meant that the best part of nine months were missed and while it’s easy to look back and say things might have been different had he been available, I genuinely think he would have made a difference in providing an attacking midfield presence in the box. Hopefully next year we will see more of him and hopefully will see him running our attacks via the number ten role.
Yoan Gouffran – Keep
A shadow of the player we saw a season back and I’m still trying to figure out where it went wrong with him. He literally went through a spell where nothing he did came off yet he was continuously picked week in, week out. On form, his work rate is outstanding and he was always coming off the pitch knackered, he has goals in him and provides excellent cover for his fullback; if we can get him back to the type of form he showed when he first arrived then he would be a good squad player to have around.
Jack Colback – Keep
Another stand out performer this season and a pleasant surprise. I thought we were
getting a defensive midfielder in the Tiote mould, covering his centre halves and fullbacks and breaking up opposition attacks with some crunching tackles. What we got was a box-to-box midfielder who covered every blade of grass and scored a few goals to boot. A definite starter next season and a contender for captaincy should Colo not be around, his passion for the club is evident and along with Anita he’s another player who can play more than one position.
Rolando Aarons – Keep
Another player I’ve done an article on and the brightest prospect we have had at the club since Kevin Gall; I’m talking crap here obviously, as Gall wasn’t very good. Give him more game time and we could see him develop into a player of some quality. Injuries also cut short his season but in the few games he played, he made a massive impression.
Remy Cabella – Keep
Deserves time to adapt to the league after a tough introduction to English football and, in his defence, didn’t get a good run of games until the latter part of the season. We need to see more from him next season though as he runs the risk of becoming an expensive flop, he looks like he could be a genuine match winner and his display against Hull was encouraging.
Cheick Tiote – Keep
Missed the majority of this season through injury and one of McClaren’s toughest jobs will be to try and get Tiote back to his best and McClaren should know this as they won the league together at Twente. I think Tiote has been guilty of trying to be a footballer ever since Barton and Nolan left. I’m not saying he’s robbing a living and should consider another career; I’m suggesting that he has tried and failed to fill the holes left by the aforementioned scousers by changing his game and trying to affect the game further up the pitch. Tiote is largely a destroyer asked to do the dirty side of the game and win the ball back before giving it to a player who can unlock defences. McClaren’s first task should be to try to get this Tiote back as by doing this he was a major part of the team that finished fifth.
Gaby Obertan – Get Rid
Surely, by now you would have thought he would have realised that he is quicker than most full backs and to beat them he simple has to just drive at them. He has loads of pace and a nice touch but he simply cannot fathom out how to beat his man repeatedly. It’s time to cut our losses on this one.
Sammy Ameobi – Keep
When writing this I realised I must have written articles about most of the squad and Sammy is another of them. Just like his brother he has an uncanny knack of being pretty good or unbelievably poor, but to keep the squad a decent size I reckon a short term contract would probably be the best option with Sammy.
Upfront we’ve struggled to hit the net on a regular basis, much of this can be contributed to a lack of involvement from midfield, but a large part of the reason is the fact that two of our strikers have had indifferent seasons.
Papiss Cisse – Get Rid
This would be the toughest decision to make and one that could undoubtedly backfire should we not adequately replace him; but Cisse has surely reached the end of his time here. He topped our scoring charts with eleven goals despite missing the start of the season and seven games for spitting at Jonny Evans, but he doesn’t look like the player who scored goals for fun in his first half season with us. His fitness has to be called into question as doubts are still hanging over his injured knee and he’s been one of the players constantly linked with a move away. Maybe it’s time to cash in on our main goalscorer.
Ayoze Perez – Keep
Outstanding this season and a breath of fresh air, infectious enthusiasm coupled with an eye for goal has seen him exceed even the expectations of the clubs staff. Originally signed as one for the future and offered to clubs on loan; Cisse’s knee and suspension problems meant the young Spaniard was thrust into the first team. Usually occupying the lone striker role Perez thrived in his first season and scored some wonderful goals. A player the club needs to retain and look after as he has all the ability to be a top, top player.
Emmanuel Riviere – Keep
Looked a complete donkey at times and managed to score a goal falling over his own feet. However, there are little signs that he could a decent squad player, I thought he did well in our last few games and was harshly substituted; decent strength and able to hold the ball up well means he could be an excellent link man to the likes of Perez. Improvements to his finishing must be made as his confidence in front of goal looks shot. This is the man who outscored Falcao at Monaco, but after seeing Falcao at Man Utd, this isn’t saying much.
Adam Armstrong – Keep
Scores goals for fun at youth and reserve level, both for club and country, but only appeared a few times for the first team. A loan move looks the most likely option for him next season; a season scoring goals in the championship would not necessarily be a bad thing and would stand him in good stead for a push for the first team the season after. Another player who, if handled correctly, could turn into a decent first team player.
I think I’ve covered the majority of the first team and if McClaren can bring in decent backroom staff along with a further six or seven reinforcements then the future could, just possibly, be that much brighter.