Newcastle’s striking options have gradually plummeted since Alan Shearer’s retirement. That statement seems obvious; after all, Shearer was a one-of-a-kind forward.
The record Premier League goalscorer departed the game in 2006 after ten straight seasons as Newcastle’s top scorer. Since then, a Newcastle forward has only registered over 15 goals in a single season once, and that was Demba Ba back in 2011-12.
Michael Owen only stayed for two injury-hit seasons, and was top goalscorer both times. Ba also lasted two years before he sought more challenging pastures in the form of Chelsea. Loic Remy was another top scorer who had a brief stay on Tyneside, spending one solitary season on loan and netting 14 goals in the process.
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The other two top scorers in that time were Andy Carroll in the Championship, Kevin Nolan from midfield and Papiss Cisse last season.
The Magpies have simply failed to find a reliable talisman since Shearer’s departure. Of course, the Toon’s on-field problems extend beyond the basic art of goalscoring, but the fact remains that goals win games, and Newcastle aren’t flush with either.
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Many have tried, many have failed
It’s not like they haven’t tried. Newcastle almost have a rich history of taking gambles in the final third. Look at Jon Dahl Tomasson; a young Dane who couldn’t find his feet on Tyneside but went on to score over 100 goals between AC Milan and Feyenoord, as well as notching 52 international goals in 112 caps.
But, for Newcastle, he managed four goals in 35 appearances in all competitions.
Here’s a list of strikers who have tried and failed since Shearer’s departure: Mark Viduka, Obafemi Martins, Fabrice Pancrate, Xisco, Leon Best, Shefki Kuqi and Emmanuel Riviere. I’d personally include Cisse in that list too, but that’s subjective.
That’s a lot of millions spent and precious few goals to show for it. Is there a curse on Tyneside for strikers? Has it got anything to do with how the team is performing as well?
Charlie Austin – who continues to be intensely linked with a move to Newcastle - managed 18 Premier League goals despite QPR’s relegation last year. If you’re a natural goalscorer, there’s not always a direct correlation with your team’s fortunes.
Bring back Armstrong?
So what’s the solution for Newcastle? It’s been reported that boss Steve McClaren is considering utilising 18-year-old Adam Armstrong when he returns from his loan spell with Coventry City in January. Is that really a good idea?
Armstrong has scored 12 goals in 16 games for the Sky Blues and there’s little denying the quality the England youth international exudes. Assuming the partnership of Ayoze Perez and Aleksander Mitrovic is unlikely to be broken any time soon, Armstrong would be back to square one on the bench.
That won’t help his development, nor Newcastle in the long run. Armstrong is thriving as the centre-piece of a strong, promotion chasing side. Giving him a bit-part role in a relegation scrap wouldn’t bear the same results. If he returns, he must play.
The rumour mill
The other mooted option won’t surprise many. Newcastle are set to raid Ligue 1 – again – this time for Bordeaux striker Wahbi Khazri. The 24-year-old French-born, Tunisian international has four goals in the French top-flight this season and six goals in 13 on the international stage.
Is he the answer? Sounds like Riviere 2.0.
Finally, the Newcastle Chronicle has reported that Obafemi Martins could be in line for a shock return to the north east on loan in January until the MLS season gets underway in March.
Newcastle and Sunderland are understood to have registered interest in the Nigerian, who has bagged 16 goals in 25 MLS games his season.
Martins played under now Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce at Newcastle, and it seems far more conceivable that the 31-year-old could be brought back to life under Big Sam than a return to St James’ this winter window.
What will Newcastle do in January? Managing director Lee Charnley has insisted the club will spend money in the next few windows, but can they be trusted to do so methodically? Results thus far would certainly incite a debate.
Newcastle fans everywhere should hope the powers that be at St James’ do the smart thing and buy a proven Premier League scorer like Austin, not another French experiment.
Who do you think Newcastle should buy? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below!