It will not surprise anybody when we say in the last two games we have not missed Michael Owen, Shola Ameobi and Mark Viduka in attack.
The starting combination of Martins and Luque scored 4 goals between them and young Carroll’s appearance as substitute heralded him a great goal against the world’s best goalkeeper yesterday.
Yet our starting two will probably be Owen and Viduka when fit. Same thing in midfield, we haven’t really missed Barton and Butt.
We’ll take a look at what our best back four could be – if we don’t sign anybody else – the nightmare scenario.
Charles N’Zogbia – outstanding performance against Juventus
Moving first from the attack to midfieldÂ - we looked good again yesterday. Geremi is an experienced player who can provide great crosses, free kicks and corners and young N’Zogbia yesterday was a revelation in central midfield. Milner looks to be improving on last season and Solano looks a new player under Sam. With Joey Barton and Nicky Butt â€“ probably our starting central midfield missing â€“ it’s fair to say we didn’t miss them too much either.
If only we could say the same thing about our defense we would be able to make a top six league position next season.
Rozehnal and Ramage to their credit have played well (solidly is a better description) in central defense. Rozy looks a class act and Ramage is what he is â€“ a local youngster doing his very best under Sam’s guidance and fighting like crazy to keep his position. But poor Huntington looked exposed again at left back â€“ simply because he isn’t one. Put him in central defense and he is a much better player. It’s hard to criticize Paul because he’s playing wherever Sam puts him but we need a left back â€“ how often have you heard that this summer?
Sam may even be able to get Babayaro to play solidly â€“ if he ever getsÂ him fit.Â Celestine isÂ in Germany (with Emre) getting his ankle injury fixed and we’re unsure of his situation. But it’s unlikely Sam will want to sell him now with the team so weak at left back.
If we don’t bring anybody in â€“ let’s take the nightmare scenario – and ask who should play in the back four?
We think Sam will keep Ramage and Rozehnal there until Stephen Taylor gets match fit â€“ but that will probably not be before the first game in less than two weeks. But the two have played solidly together and that’s what we need right now â€“ no mistakes from the central two.
Paul Huntington should be replaced at left back.Â Â Of all the young center backs at Newcastle we think Edgar has been the best one when deployed as a full back. So we would give David a run out on Wednesday against Hull CityÂ at left back â€“ and if Nicky Butt is back Sam can alsoÂ Â play N’Zogbia there â€“ who could become a terrificÂ utility player for us and get lots of games next season. We certainly hope he getsÂ the games because that’s all heÂ needs.
Right back â€“ Sam will probably stay with Stephen Carr right now for his experience and it looks like he wants to use Solano where he can be most dangerous â€“ on the right wing.Â Nothing wrong with thatÂ as Nobby has looked great in pre-season.Â So our best back four for the first game – with alternatives could be:
Carr (Edgar)Â Â Â Ramage (Taylor when fit)Â RozehnalÂ Â Edgar (N’Zogbia)
That’s what’s available to Sam â€“ not too bad â€“ but we need those experienced defenders in to lightenÂ the mood surrounding our defense.Â Of course we could includeÂ Geremi – who can play either full back position – and maybe play Zog and Butt could play midfield – another possible option in our first game.
If we can get them in and keep the squad a lot fitter than last season – we could still make top six – which would be a very successful season for the new management. The next two weeks are going to be critical in the transfer market for us – and you can bet most Newcastle fans every morning will be scanning the papers anxiously forÂ new signings.
Comments always welcome.