Pressure on Newcastle revive stumbling squad

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With three big signings, two having played a part in the pre-season and one subject to visa, Newcastle United seem to be on the right path of achieving a top eight finish and perhaps a cup run, as promised by Owner, Mike Ashley.

However with Charlie Austin deal going nowhere for a while and a recent Thauvin bid rejected, one must wonder if that is all the investment there would be, at least on players who can walk straight into the first team.

If that indeed is the case, the manager must look at his squad realistically and wonder if the lot is good enough. Any one who watched a Newcastle game in the closing stages of last season would say- NO.


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Bringing in three players with zero Premier League experience and not getting rid of the under achievers from the last season may have strengthened the squad to a certain extent, but the team requires a lot more than minimal strengthening.

With the current lot the team can be expected to beat the drop, but to challenge the top half and an ambitious cup run, more first team players must be bought, particularly in the frail defensive line that has time and again been exposed even in the pre-season.

However, assuming that no more players are bought, there is a solace for the Magpies who will hope the 'just like a new signing' phenomenon will hit last season's left-overs.

It means that the players who haven't yet showed up due to injuries, bans or simply lack of form, now have the opportunity to turn things around and prove their worth.

These players are the ones who had done well with their previous teams or within Newcastle, earning them a name, but have somehow failed to live up to the expectations.

If these players somehow do manage to hit the form that is expected of them, maybe, just maybe, Newcastle can afford not to invest anymore. The risk however is too high.

These players can be classified into two categories, the first one being players with "big names", "big reputations" or "big money" behind them. These are the players that were and are expected to break into the starting 11 and make an impact. This list includes the following:

Papiss Cisse

The reason Cisse is on the list is because he has a nasty habit of missing games at important times of the season due to bans and injuries.

Though a regular scorer for most part of his Newcastle career thus far, his continual injury problems only create a void up front that so far has not been filled, though with arrival of Mitrovic, that may change. However one must wonder what sort of a tally could he get if he plays the entire season.

Siem De Jong 

A player brought in to fill the void in midfield left by the impressive Yohan Cabaye, but never even got the chance to try. Missing almost the entire season due to injury (a collapsed lung) he barely got to make an impression. He did come in off the bench against Swansea to score a well placed volley, perhaps a sign of what he can do.

Rolando Aarons

The pacey winger has made a name for himself by putting in some impressive performances last season, most of all against Manchester City where he scored the opening goal in the 2-0 win.

However, like many others he too missed out on most of the season due to injury. He seems to have captured that form and perhaps bettered it in pre-season, scoring two spectacular goals and setting up one in the 4-3 loss against Timbers. The young talent has attracted interested from some top teams such as Arsenal. 

Jamaal Lascelles

The strongly built defender was bought last season but sent back on loan to Nottingham Forest, so perhaps he truly is 'Just like a new signing' having not played a single competitive game for Newcastle yet. Young and highly rated, a lot depends on the Englishman as he could be an integral part of the Newcastle back line.

Massadio Haidara

Another player missing out on a major chunk of last season, but he got enough time to show that he has what it takes to play in the league.

A wing back that loves going forward and does not shy from tackling may seem to be a better option than Paul Dummett who is often criticized for lack of pace. It will not be surprising to see Haidara feature regularly, provided he stays fit.

Remy Cabella

The Frenchman came in as one of the most highly rated players last season. A creative midfielder who could put in a shift behind the strikers or at the wing is pacey and has a bag full of tricks.

Last season he was constantly let down by a lack of end product, failing to provide decent crosses or finish. He has also been criticized for lack of physicality to his game, deemed a necessity to succeed in the league.

However Steve McClaren has openly stated he would be examining the player himself before deciding his future at the club. If he does come good and reach his prime that got him a call for the France National team, he could be instrumental to a successful season. 

Sylvain Marveaux

The player has always been underused. With a new manager and coaching staff, he perhaps now has a chance to get into the starting 11. Such a chance is surely his last though.

Cheick Tiote 

The Ivory Coast international formed one of the most balanced midfield along with Yohan Cabaye. Once targeted by Manchester United, the aggressive midfielder was said to be one of the bargains of the season.

Since then he has been hit by injuries on both international and club duty affecting his form severely. Recently he could not travel to America for the pre-season with the rest of the squad due to a visa problem giving him some catching up to do.

If somehow the Ivorian does hit the ground running with his new teammates like he did with Cabaye it could see a lot of Newcastle's midfield crisis dealt with. He will also provide a strong protection to the defenders being an ideal defensive-minded midfielder. 

Steven Taylor

He is one of the longest serving members of the squad at present and yet he has managed to make this list. That is extraordinary, but only outside St James' Park. Newcastle have a habit of keeping unproductive players for too long.

Steven Taylor, a player who was destined for greatness, the 'young' powerhouse from the Newcastle Academy is soon going to be 30. The fact that he was once on the verge of breaking into the England squad, and formed a great partnership with Coloccini a while back, may keep him away from the list of those unproductive players eating away the wages, especially considering the unlucky injury crisis every season.

But it is now time for Steven Taylor to prove his worth. He has to be available regularly to be selected and put in strong performances when called upon. Staying fit however would have to be his first goal.

Emmanuel Riviere

The first season is the defining year for a player. One hopes that is not true for the sake of Riviere and Newcastle who invested a decent amount in him.

Emmanuel Riviere was an accomplished goal scorer and for that reason he was brought to Newcastle. He and Cisse were to form the deadly duo firing Newcastle high up the table. Riviere scored ONE goal in 23 Premier League appearances.

Shocking by any standards. Can he turn the tables and finally show his worth? Only time will tell.

Now for the second category of players. These are the players that may surprise us by finally meeting their potential. These are basically young players who were destined for big things but haven't made any sort of impact yet. They can form a strong back up brigade and maybe even break into the starting 11.

Karl Darlow

The former Nottingham Forest keeper has shown great potential over last two seasons before he was signed by The Mags and sent back on loan to Forest. He seems to be a good back up for Tim Krul and perhaps can even challenge the Dutchman as the number one shot stopper.

Haris Vuckic

The Slovenian was one of the rising stars when Newcastle brought him in. Never having impressed since his arrival, he was loaned last season to Rangers.

A recent wonder goal that perhaps even Messi would have been proud of against Ajax Second team has brought fans into a debate. One section claiming that the goal actually shows the unused talent of the lad, while the other section believes he simply is not good enough.

Steve McClaren had decided to drop him out of the pre-season squad, but the goal may tempt him to reconsider the role of this player.

Curtis Good

Brought in from Melbourne Heart as a future first team player, Good is now 22 and should at least occasionally be featuring in the squad. Can the new coaching staff help him achieve his potential that got him a big name back in Australia? 

Shane Ferguson

Rising from the Newcastle Academy and breaking into the starting 11 made Shane Ferguson a fan favorite almost instantly. It earned him a five-year-deal too. What happened after that and how Shane Ferguson, now 24-years-old ended up as a surplus is a mystery.

Steve McClaren however has used the player frequently in the pre season, a sign that he may be getting a second chance. 

Gael Bigirimana

Having played enough first team football a couple of years ago due to the lack of depth in squad, especially in the heart of midfield, and scoring a cracking goal against Wigan Athletic, it seemed he would frequently be seen on the pitch in the future. Something that did not happen at all. New coaching staff also means a fresh start to him. 

The list of such players indeed is long consisting of a total 15 players. That's 15 players in the club that should be doing a lot more than they are.

Ten of them could very much directly affect the outcome of the season. Especially the likes of Cisse, De Jong, Aarons, Cabella, Lascelles, Haidara, Tiote and Steven Taylor.

What position Newcastle finally does finish in depends a lot on the form of these players and what the three new signings have to offer. Hopefully there would be further additions to the squad and the team that shows up against Southampton is a competitive one that can get 3 points.

Hopefully this team can also endure the series of injuries that seem impossible to avoid through the season. 

What position will Newcastle finish in? Will the likes of Cabella and De Jong succeed? Which position do you think needs further reinforcements? Have your say in the comments section below!

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