Newcastle’s almost perfect transfer window is a sign of things to come

Words by Matt Lazenby – follow him on Twitter @MatLazenby.

Fifty million spent, all star players retained and some of the deadwood cleared out. That sounds like a dream transfer window for Newcastle, however it was just shy of a few things that would have made it perfect. This seems to be a sign of things to come however as both Steve McClaren and Lee Charnley are hinting that the summer window was just the beginning for United.

It is correct to say that our window wasn’t perfect, although it is understandable that we couldn’t stretch the money to buy anymore players, as for our league position at the moment £50 million is a lot to spend and compared to the teams around us it is a landslide amount. However, McClaren’s previous press conferences have hinted that this wasn’t just a one off for Newcastle: ‘I wish I could have just spent it all now’ ‘The squad will look totally different this time next year. Did I want to spend £150 million in this window? Absolutely!’ This, coupled with Charnley’s very promising statement yesterday makes it seem as though there is a lot more money available to McClaren and that over the next few transfer windows we are looking to spend another £100 million.

If this does happen to be true and we can make some slight improvements on this transfer window then Newcastle will have a completely different squad that is worthy of challenging for the top 7 of the premier league. Mike Ashley finally investing a lot of money into the side is very refreshing for Newcastle fans to see and also seeing many of the players hit the ground running with brilliant performances can only excite Newastle fans more. If Mitrovic can keep his cool and start scoring as much as he is is getting booked then its hard to see how Newcastle fans can complain. However the window did see some bad points for us. Continue reading Newcastle’s almost perfect transfer window is a sign of things to come

5 Players NUFC Should Target as the Window Closes

Words by Aziz Khalil – follow him on Twitter @azizk47. Written for NUFC360 – a new brand aiming to bring you all things Newcastle United. Be sure to follow for updates.

With the transfer window coming to a close, Newcastle United have spent nearly £50 in incoming transfers. This is the most Mike Ashley has sanctioned in funds in a single window, topping last summer’s £38 million. As a matter of fact, 3 of the top 5 most expensive Newcastle United signings came this summer; #5 Florian Thauvin (£12m), #4 Aleksandar Mitrovic (£13m) and Georginio Wijnaldum (£14.5m).

Even with the spending and trying to fix the mess Alan Pardew left behind, Mike Ashley and the director’s board have finally omitted to addressing various needs on this roster. At the beginning of the window, you could make an argument that Newcastle United needed 2 CBs, ST, Winger, CM and LB; and that was only if no players were sold. So far they have addressed 4 out of those 5 positions and the only big name players that left are Mehdi Abeid and Remy Cabella. They addressed one of the CB positions with Chancel Mbemba, who looks like a superstar. Mitrovic signing addressed the striker position, but if Cissé is sold in the closing days of the transfer window, NUFC could be easily enticed into pursuing another forward. The Thauvin signing fixed the issue at winger and Wijnaldum addressed the need for another CM.

Despite all of these signings, there are still some needs across the club’s roster. Is Massadio Haidara the answer at LB? Mitrovic has discipline issues and is having a hard time staying on the field; could that be an issue? What happens if Coloccini or Mbemba get hurt? Is NUFC comfortable with Steven Taylor? We keep saying this but the club has a lot of quantity but lacks quality. Here are 5 names that Newcastle United should look at as the transfer window closes:

5) CB Joel Matip (Schalke 04): 6’3, 196 lbs, 25 years old. Cameroon international, valued at approximately £10 million. Matip would be the perfect fit, at his height and length, next to a 6’0 Mbemba. He has been linked to Newcastle all summer long and the rumours won’t go away, despite him committing to Schalke for at least another year. Newcastle would have one of the youngest and up and coming stars at CB together. Fabricio Coloccini is 33; it’s time to move on. Matip would be a step in the right direction.

4) LB Raphael Guerreiro (FC Lorient): 5’6, 147 lbs, 21 years old. Portugal international, valued at approximately £8.8m million. Lorient president Loic Fery recently came out saying Fery said: “I don’t need to explain why we want €12.5m when Kurzawa and Digne are valued today at €25m. No one [is] untransferable, but at a fair price”. Guerreiro made 33 appearances for Lorient last season, scoring an impressive seven goals from left back. He can also play on the wing, this would address a few positions for Newcastle and would definitely start ahead of Massadio Haidara.

3) ST Benik Afobe (Wolverhampton): 6’0, 172 lbs, 22 years old. England international, valued at approximately £10million. The former Arsenal academy player has seen a Newcastle bid already rejected and Steve McClaren recently stated that they are not pursuing Afobe. Truth be told, McClaren also said they weren’t going to be signing anyone else this summer two days before signing Thauvin; therefore, it does not mean much. Rumours and speculation claim that Newcastle may be better off pursuing him in the January window. Continue reading 5 Players NUFC Should Target as the Window Closes

Newcastle United 0-1 Arsenal (& Andre Marriner): 20 Thoughts & Tidbits

Words by Aziz Khalil – follow him on Twitter @azizk47. Written for NUFC360 – a new brand aiming to bring you all things Newcastle United. Be sure to follow for updates.

A frustrating match for Newcastle United supporters and the Geordie faithful. Aleksandar Mitrovic was sent off 16 minutes into the match with a debatable red card. The Gunners were dominating early on and the red card saw NUFC draw completely back; at one point the possession was 75-25 in the favor of Arsenal. Newcastle held their shape and defensive line until the 52nd minute, where an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain shot deflected off of Coloccini’s leg and behind Tim Krul. A great defensive display by Newcastle; who could have easily come out of this fixture with at least a draw, despite a harsh red card from Andre Marriner, lost 1-0.

Here are my 20 thoughts and tidbits:

  1. I’m going to start off by saying that this was one of the poorest showing of officiating that I have seen in quite some time. Andre Marriner was handing out yellow cards to Newcastle players like candy on Halloween.
  2. Marriner did not have a handle on this match from the get go. This is the same referee that sent off Kieran Gibbs by mistake when it should have been Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain last season. How can someone like that still be employed as a Premier League official? Baffling.
  3. As for the Mitrovic red, we can sit and debate for days but one thing is clear, he is a building a reputation that is Balotelli-esque. The red was definitely questionable, there was no intent to injure and the ball was in the air. It was a clumsy, but costly, challenge. A borderline red but had this been Santi Cazorla or Sanchez making that challenge, it’s probably a yellow with a severe warning. Someone like Mitrovic or Tiote? Straight red. Unfortunately, in this case, you reap what you sow.
  4. Having Andre Marriner as a referee did have one advantage. Florian Thauvin tripped Hector Bellerin in the box and should have been a PK but there was no call.
  5. 6 yellow cards for Newcastle United (Sissoko 3’, Mbemba 19’, Thauvin 26’, Anita 48’, Wijnaldum 49’ & Coloccini 92’) and of course a red for Mitrovic in the 16th Only Cazorla was booked for Arsenal, and that wasn’t until the 49th minute.
  6. Speaking of discipline, this is now 2 red cards in 4 league matches and 6 in their last 14 games for the Magpies. It is surely becoming a growing concern for McClaren and the coaching staff. Need to get that sorted out.
  7. Continue reading Newcastle United 0-1 Arsenal (& Andre Marriner): 20 Thoughts & Tidbits

Newcastle United 0-0 Manchester United: 20 Thoughts & Tidbits

Words by Aziz Khalil – follow him on Twitter @azizk47. Written for NUFC360 – a new brand aiming to bring you all things Newcastle United. Be sure to follow for updates.

A staggering defensive display from Newcastle today, one that fans had not seen in quite some time, was one of the main reasons for a startling draw at Old Trafford today. Wayne Rooney seemed to have put Manchester United up early but was flagged for offside. Man U kept pushing and had the Magpies on their backheels. Once Newcastle settled down and kept a little bit of possession, Mbemba delivered a wonderful lob that met Mitrovic’s head but rattled the crossbar. There were some other tremendous opportunities for Manchester; one from Chicharito late in the match, but Tim Krul displayed some utter brilliance to keep it out. Steve McClaren subbed Tioté on in the 78th minute and the team held their defensive shape to escape Old Trafford with a point.

Here are my 20 thoughts and tidbits:

  1. It was a very sluggish start, Newcastle was luckily to not be down 2-0 early on, but once they weathered the storm, and kept possession, the Magpies looked much better. They got better as the game went on.
  2. There was a major gap between the midfielders and defenders at the beginning of the match. Anita, Colback and Wijnaldum were not on the same page as Steven Taylor and Coloccini. Bastian Schweinsteiger, Januzaj and Rooney had plenty of room to roam in the middle of the field. But once again, when Newcastle weathered the storm and picked up their defensive responsibilities, the game took a turn.
  3. This should be the last time we see Gabriel Obertan starting. Ayozé displayed some great defensive instincts on the left hand side and was helping Haidara as much as he could. The same cannot be said for Obertan. Depay and Mbemba were going at it 1 on 1 95% of the time and Chancel was on an island by himself, without the help of his winger. Poor display by Obertan today, with Thauvin fit and much better options (Aarons, Ayoze, Sissoko if healthy), Obertan’s days in the starting lineup are numbered.
  4. We got a glimpse of what Mitrovic brings to the table when he receives proper service. In the 20th minute, the Anderlecht boys connected for the best chance Newcastle had all match. A great cross from Mbemba reached Mitrovic’s forehead and his powerful header smashed the crossbar. Here are two angles of the chance: &
  5. Speaking of Mitrovic; I thought he was great today and displayed some fantastic power and defensive abilities. He was tracking back and clearing away corners; something we never saw from Papiss Cissé. However, soon he will realize that he won’t get all the calls all the time, that this is a different league and he’ll start having a massive target on his back (if he hasn’t already). This guy is becoming problematic for the opposition and they are trying to rattle him as much as possible. Kudos to Mitro for standing his ground today and not reacting to bad tackles and receiving another yellow.
  6. This was by far Coloccini’s best game this season. No doubt, man of the match. Held his ground, was a leader on the back line and had them all pick up their defensive duties. Key blocks and uncanny tackling; we got a taste of old Colo today. Happy to see that.
  7. Someone else who has been poor recently but was incredible tonight: Tim Krul. Had an astonishing game changing save on Chicharito in the 79th minute ( that protected Newcastle from earning no points today. Krul was in control all day. Was he showing off in front of his old national team coach?
  8. Keep in mind, Newcastle was missing arguably their two players today (Moussa Sissoko and Daryl Janmaat). Stupendous performance without those two.
  9. What more can you say about Chancel Mbemba? I keep harping on his abilities and defensive prow. Memphis got the best of him at times but the Chancellor held his own. Not your typical RB, a much more natural CB, he did present some beautiful touches and as previously mentioned, delivered an incredible ball to Mitrovic.
  10. Florian Thauvin also looked the part today, which is impressive since he has only had about 2 training sessions with the club. He looked like he belonged today, it won’t always be smooth sailing but you can tell he’s got the touch and vision to be a player in this league. Hopefully he is the solution to the problematic and dreadful service Mitrovic has received up top. Here are some of Thauvin’s touches today (
  11. Another solid performance by Wijnaldum. By no means did he wow or stand out, but he was quietly good and that’s still impressive in a defensively tactic scheme put out by McClaren today. He pushed out wide with 10 minutes left in the match and played well; this man can play all over the field. Once Sissoko is healthy, those two will strive playing together.
  12. I thought Ayozé was also quietly good today; he brought a different dynamic to the wing that Obertan does not bring and is responsible defensively, which is important when playing next to Haidara. Perez’s craftiness and his knack of knowing when to cut left or right, or turn around the defender is incredibly important when you play on a starting 11 that lacks creativity; and let’s be honest, creativity is one of this team’s biggest deficiency.
  13. Wijnaldum and Mitrovic were on the same page, and their confidence and comfort with one another will keep growing as the season goes on.
  14. Vurnon Anita was good, once again. He did not have the best of games versus Swansea last week but looked worthy today. Nice to see his career and game revitalized under a manager that knows how and where to play him.
  15. In Manchester United’s defense, Wayne Rooney’s goal was not offside.
  16. Haidara’s positioning in today’s match is something else ( Seems like he’s more of a winger than a fullback these days. This is one of the club’s biggest issues; they need a real LB and/or a cover RB. Cannot keep playing Mbemba on at RB anymore, don’t want him to become another Mbiwa.
  17. This was one of the most exciting 0-0 matches I’ve watched in quite some time.
  18. At the 78th minute, McClaren brought Tioté on for Perez and the team sat back and did their best impression of mimicking a wall. 45 clearances, 32 tackles, 26 blocks (!!), 13 interceptions and a clean sheet. Like I said, a wall.
  19. With one of the toughest start of the season schedule in the whole Premier League, coming out of Old Trafford with a point is a big result and a major boost of confidence for this team going forward. It all goes back to the players listening to the manager’s words and executing the proposed plan. Need to see the same performance next week at home versus Arsenal.
  20. Fans started seeing the impact Steve McClaren is having on this club. A reformed team and the tactics seem to be working. Today he had a plan and the team exquisitely executed it. The club may have looked exposed early on but the veterans like Coloccini, Steven Taylor and Krul made sure the team held their ground to come out with a point. Instead of harping about gaining a point away at Old Trafford, McClaren talked about missing out on 3 points. That is the difference between him and Alan Pardew. Talk to you next week!

MOTM: Fabricio Coloccini

NEWCASTLE UNITED: Krul, Mbemba, Taylor, Coloccini, Haidara, Anita, Colback, Wijnaldum, Obertan (Thauvin 69), Perez (Tioté 78), Mitrovic (Cissé 88).

MANCHESTER UNITED: Romero, Darmian (Valencia 77), Smalling, Blind, Shaw, Schweinsteiger (Carrick 59), Schneiderlin, Januzaj (Hernandez 67), Mata, Memphis, Rooney.

Ref: Craig Pawson

Crowd: 75, 354


Newcastle United player ratings:

Tim Krul – 8

Chancel Mbemba – 8.5

Steven Taylor – 7

Fabricio Coloccini – 9

Massadio Haidara – 6.5

Jack Colback – 6.5

Vurnon Anita – 7

Georginio Wijnaldum – 7.5

Ayoze Perez – 7 (Cheick Tioté – N/A)

Gabriel Obertan – 5 (Florian Thauvin – 7)

Aleksandar Mitrovic – 8 (Papiss Cissé (N/A)

An Inside Look at Newcastle United’s Jamaal Lascelles

Words by Aziz Khalil – follow him on Twitter @azizk47. Written for NUFC360 – a new brand aiming to bring you all things Newcastle United. Be sure to follow for updates.

Barring any new signings or transfers at center back, Fabricio Coloccini, Steve Taylor, Mike Williamson and Jamaal Lascelles will be battling for first team spots on the pitch this upcoming season. The first 3 names are quite familiar, as a matter of fact, they are the same center backs that Newcastle United has had since their Championship season in 2009-2010. However, the last name is a little bit of an unknown. Jamaal Lascelles is a 21-year-old center back that Newcastle signed in August of 2014 from Nottingham Forest on a 4-year transfer. He was then loaned back to Nottingham Forest for the 2014-2015 campaign, playing a total of 24 matches and had 1 goal.

Most Nottingham Forest fans will claim that Lascelles started the season slow and did not get first team starts, but the second half was a completely different player. His slow start could have been due to the extra curricular activities that were surrounding Jamaal. In December, he appeared in court over an alleged bar assault in Derby. The charges were dropped but you can sense that it impacted his on field performance. However, as the season went on, his play got stronger and stronger. Forest fans will tell you that you were finally able to start seeing his potential and prospective.

The England U-21 international still has a bright future and raw ability with time to round out his game. He also has experience with Steve McClaren while at Continue reading An Inside Look at Newcastle United’s Jamaal Lascelles

The Curious Case of Jack Colback as my Candidate to Become NUFC’s Next Captain

Words by Aziz Khalil – follow him on Twitter @azizk47. Written for NUFC360 – a new brand aiming to bring you all things Newcastle United. Be sure to follow for updates.

The Ginger Pirlo. A Geordie-born captain; the first since Alan Shearer. How does that sound? This is no knock on Fabricio Coloccini, who has been nothing but utter class and trustworthy since he was first handed the armband in 2011. As the longest tenured NUFC captain since Alan Shearer, Coloccini has established a great reputation around the league and in the locker room but at 33 years old, it may be time to unfortunately move on. With the appointment of a new manager and infrastructure within the organization, what better time to select a new captain?

The way that fans and others reacted to Coloccini’s end of season open letter in May, whilst in relegation battle, may have been his last straw. People thought it was nothing but a PR stunt by the football club because the Toon Army were threatening to boycott upcoming matches. His production has unquestionably dipped as each season passed by, and having the likes of Mike Williamson, Steven Taylor and Paul Dummett next to him has certainly never helped. Coloccini was always a “lead by example” type of captain rather than a vocal leader. After all, he did stick with Newcastle through their Championship campaign but it’s also difficult to forget that he had a move lined up to San Lorenzo two years ago that was blocked by Newcastle.

Jack Colback isn’t the sexiest pick or the most talented player on the books, far from it. However, he does bring several traits to the table that deems him captain worthy, in my opinion. The Geordie turned Mackem returned to his boyhood club last season and has been an unsung hero ever since. To go from Sunderland to Newcastle in itself takes a lot of nerve and audacity, which speaks volume of Colback’s personality. He is extremely reliable and durable (played 35 out of 38 EPL games last season) and also received his first England senior call-up in August of 2014. Colback has always been known for his high work rate, passion, commitment and motivation to put his club ahead of his personal needs. Continue reading The Curious Case of Jack Colback as my Candidate to Become NUFC’s Next Captain