Rafa Benitez Must Fix This Problem Position

Newcastle are weak at left back and our two leading players for that position, Paul Dummett and Sadio Haidara, are currently out injured and miss a lot of games through injury.

Sadio has been out with a knee injury since October, but there are some signs he could return to training very soon and maybe even be available for the next game at Norwich City.

Paul Dummett has struggled with hamstring problems for over a year now and his hamstring is weak after playing in the final few games of last season, when he was not fully fit – never a good idea.

massadio haidara at burnley

Sadio Haidara – back soon?

Jack Colback had a poor game in that position against Sunderland and he’s certainly not a natural left-back.

That position has been a weakness for a while at the club and we couldn’t get one in during January, when we tried to get an experienced player in on loan until the end of the season.

Our best option could be to play Haidara there when he’s fit,  but if Colo returns we wonder what Jamaal Lascelles would be like at left back?

Certainly the 22 year-old has speed and seems a good young defender and he had another decent game for us yesterday, when he was preferred over Steven Taylor.

Vurnon Anita can also play at left back and he played at Ajax for one full season in that position when Martin Jol was the manager from 2009-2010.

It’s a problem position for us and the wisdom of those at the top of the club allowed Davide Santon to leave Newcastle early last year for Inter-Milan, without any replacement coming in since then.


Whether we are in the Premier League or the Championship next season we need a top left-back brought in over the summer.

What do you think?

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Comments welcome.

56 comments so far

  • magscar

    Mar 21, 2016 at 8:39 AM

    Comment #1


    magscar // Mar 21, 2016 at 8:34 AM

    Disappointed and relieved at the same time. Looking back to October game Mackems made 8 starting changes to our 3 ( probably less if Dummett had been fit). They featured 3 of their Jan signings ( Kone, Kirtchoff and Khazri) to our 2 ( Shelvey and Townsend) and arguably theirs figured better. Certainly those 3 players have made a difference to their form since January whereas we have Doumbia and Saivet anonymous but in positions we are desperate for changes.

    Overall Kone Kirtchoff and Defoe highlighted our failings in transfers and our continuing need for a defensive midfielder, dominant centre half and a goal scorer( and not forgetting a LB). They are not all long term fixes but have been making a crucial difference to the Mackems recent performances and results. May not be enough hopefully!

    Benitez must be hoping he can get a fit De Jong and Cisse (and Dummett or Mbabu) available to him for the remaining fixtures as we need goals. We know Perez Sissoko Gini and Townsend can all score but have all looked ineffective in supporting Mitro as our lone striker. He needs better and quicker support with better passing in final third. Too often we squandered possession in and around their box.

    Quite surprising what changes he made yesterday ( McClaren would have been ridiculed) but highlights the difficulty any manager faces with our imbalanced squad.

    Still hopeful of a great escape but a defeat at Norwich is unthinkable. Best hope is for Palace to be also dragged into it ( Swansea have probably now done enough) but we have to start picking up 3 points no matter how scrappy. There are signs of effective changes to our play but we still looked incapable of effective passing and movement in first half . Getting players to change in the crisis we are in and with games running out is an increasingly tall order. Under McClaren I don’t doubt we would have lost yesterday.


  • jimiley

    Mar 21, 2016 at 8:52 AM

    Comment #2

    What about the other problem positions? Striker or central defence. We have been screaming our for quality in those positions for years but we just keep buying midfield players. The ineptitude of the club is coming home to bite us. Its too late now. Gannin doon with the scum. Self inflicted and deserved.

  • beermonkey

    Mar 21, 2016 at 8:54 AM

    Comment #3


    fat sam has had since the 9th oct to sort out sunderland, its taken till the last couple of weeks sort them out

    rafa has had 10 days and wont get a window to work with

    not sure why saviet hasnt played he did ok when he came in and was in great form before we signed him
    i would try him at left back if the others dont come back from injury

    as for doombia good record must be something for rafa to keep him out

  • The overrated Frenchman

    Mar 21, 2016 at 8:58 AM

    Comment #4

    Under the myopic rather than watchful eye of Ashley, Charnley and Carr have led us to the edge of this cliff with a mixture of incompetence and self-interest. Let’s hope they are not amongst the survivors if (or most likely when) we take the plunge.

  • cyprus

    Mar 21, 2016 at 9:00 AM

    Comment #5

    So HBA scored another blinder. Strangely, I don’t want to see it. It could’ve been for us he did his magic… Pardew hoodwinked many a fan. He had a Ferrari, wanted a workhorse. Crime to have let him go, before Rafa, or a real coach arrived.

    MOM yesterday was Elliott, amazing saves. Our best player this year.

    Can we do it? NUFC is a team for surprises. Fingers crossed. Still, that was probably a must win…

  • Santon03

    Mar 21, 2016 at 9:02 AM

    Comment #6

    well, it’s international break, if injuries to full backs still no improvement then we should just go with 352 or 343.

  • cyprus

    Mar 21, 2016 at 9:02 AM

    Comment #7

    Not sure what’s up with that Perez. Was evidently our biggest talent, has lost something.

    On Gini, we must find out what to do with him. Clearly gifted.

    On Shelvey. Hope he ain’t as crap as I thought he was, before we got him. He’s proving me right, the tool. And I hate that.

  • Santon03

    Mar 21, 2016 at 9:04 AM

    Comment #8


    let it go, dude.
    he’s gone, accept it. just like me letting go Santon.
    Now we have no full back.

  • Charlie in the Gallowgate

    Mar 21, 2016 at 9:05 AM

    Comment #9

    Referee yesterday
    Did he help or hinder the TOON at the end by only playing 4 minutes overtime.

    He should of played at least 8 minutes
    3 minutes for substitutions
    3 minutes for Mitrovic’s KO
    1 minute for the game being stopped for their playing going down with cramp
    1 minute at least for time wasting.

    Maybe he felt sorry for the TOON going down to 10 men giving the Mackems the advantage to play out the game.

    And with the two week break before the Norwich game should give Benitez time to breath and to work with the players on tactics and set up for the game.
    also hopefully get some players back to fitness and up to speed

  • cyprus

    Mar 21, 2016 at 9:06 AM

    Comment #10

    Spot on!

    I’ll try 🙂

  • Santon03

    Mar 21, 2016 at 9:07 AM

    Comment #11


    even Manone’s yellow card took about 2 minutes to restart.

  • Santon03

    Mar 21, 2016 at 9:09 AM

    Comment #12

    I couldn’t remember any decision going our way this season, even perfectly good goal by Tiote was ruled out.
    Maybe there’s some decision going our way but I didn’t notice.

  • Santon03

    Mar 21, 2016 at 9:11 AM

    Comment #13

    the most painful decision was Colo’s red card which was lifted after appeal.

  • Santon03

    Mar 21, 2016 at 9:12 AM

    Comment #14

    did we get any penalty kick this season?

  • Charlie in the Gallowgate

    Mar 21, 2016 at 9:16 AM

    Comment #15

    1 this season against Man Utd Mitro scored
    1 last season against Man Utd Cisse scored

  • magscar

    Mar 21, 2016 at 9:18 AM

    Comment #16


    Point on Alladyce is a given and I was simply trying to contrast how we and they had managed the Jan window in getting in what was need for our respective plights at that time. Arguably they bought with staying up more in mind whilst we were still thinking longer term with McClaren still seemingly confident we would stay up anyway. Still happy with Shelvey and possibly Townsend ( wasn’t too keen initially) but the dithering over Berahino with no real alternative may yet cost us big time.

    If Benitez had been brought in last year when it was clear McClaren was floundering our window would have been different I am sure but without the crisis that then fully descended it wouldn’t have happened and he was still at Real Madrid I think(?)

    I have faith in him and now with more time to work with players and some clear positives to build on he may fashion together a style that can combine our imbalanced squad and fragile confidence with few goals in it into a side that can win 1-0 when it matters.

    We need to get round pegs into round holes in defence soon as patched up back 4’s are no good in a side which struggles to get 1 never mind 2 goals at present.

    Blackley was on about De Jong and whilst he doesn’t have pace ( but we have others) he is calmer in box, holds onto ball and can link play. Others have been tried and I think it is between Cisse and him in a 442 with Mitro or as a No 10 in 4231. Doumbia can’t even make the bench so looks like another Ferreyra 🙁

    Would prefer someone alongside Shelvey instead of Gini as we struggled to win midfield battle yesterday. Presumably that was to be Saivet – 2 managers have ignored him!

  • Mag52

    Mar 21, 2016 at 9:20 AM

    Comment #17

    We could be heading towards what could be a disappointment to outrank all those others we have suffered under the ownership of this man Ashley.
    The glimpse of what it is like to have a top guy managing us, only for it to be snatched away after a mere ten games as we drop out of the premiership into the murky waters below.
    It’s all in the hands of the players ( on whom a not inconsiderable £80 mill. has been spent ) to rescue us from this fate, along with some serious input from the top guy Rafa.

  • Jail for Ashley

    Mar 21, 2016 at 9:21 AM

    Comment #18

    So the knives are out already for Benitez. Munster, yesterday who for some reason didn’t mention that Pardew was a bang average manager but got far too much abuse on here, he did mention that Graham Carr was at fault for all our woes and was the first to mention it, says that he’s not impressed with CL, La Liga etc winner Rafa. I can just imagine how well our overpaid disinterested shower of shite would have responded to Nigel Pearson pinning them up against the wall by the throat.

  • JDdubai

    Mar 21, 2016 at 9:29 AM

    Comment #19

    Lb still an issue, can only see Anita playing there vs Norwich unless someone returns from injury.

    Wijnaldum needs to be further forward, showed for the cross for Mitro’s goal, need him more involved in the final third. Either wide left or right if not as the 10.

    Perez poor yesterday again, dont think he can be a starter until he makes a bigger impact, especially as he is effectively pushing Wini further back.

    Mbemba and Lascelles not too bad, Mbemba a little rusty which is understandable. Think they are worth persisting with as Norwich will probably stick Mbokani on Colo if he comes back in and Colo doesnt do well against big Cfs.

    Think if we dont get 3 poijts vs Norwich the. We are odds on to go down sadly. Defoe is exactly what we are missing, someone to run the channels and turn the Cbs.

  • Charlie in the Gallowgate

    Mar 21, 2016 at 9:29 AM

    Comment #20

    Benitez – give the bloker a break
    Benitez has only had a week with the players 2 games to play in that time – ain’t had much time to change things.
    Now he has a two weeks to work with the players/tactics/confidencee and I think we will see the difference against Norwich – hopefully

  • jimiley

    Mar 21, 2016 at 9:35 AM

    Comment #21

    Toon players = wasters. Most did not seem that bothered yesterday. Too much money to care. I have stopped poring my emotional self into a club where the players are not worth a carrot. Its like being abused by the wife.

  • nufcursed

    Mar 21, 2016 at 9:37 AM

    Comment #22

    what i hope (and believe) benitez realizes is something mcclaren didn’t:
    mitro is a striker that will only score goals if you play attacking football and get some service into the box. he’s useless in a counter-attacking or defending team.

    and people janmaat was definitely worse than mbemba yesterday!
    he lost possession so many times and was always fouling his opponent. for such a young partnership at CB, we must give mbemba and lascelles some credit! they did more than ok under these heavy pressure circumstances…

    colo is also better in a defending team than one that presses, cause he’s too slow to chase attackers from the midway line.
    i think lascelles and mbemba is a very good pairing for the future!
    both are strong, fast and don’t make that much crucial mistakes.

    norwich is our last straw i think, we need a miracle win somehow or our days are numbered..

    think relegation or not will be a crucial point in the history of this fkn great club. and only time will tell!

    and one more think to all the mitrovic doubters:
    you gotta start loving this lad! if everybody would have the same desire as him (hint at the sissoko’s) we would have never been in this mess!
    he’s one of the few in our squad that actually looks like he wants to play for NEWCASTLE!! he chose us over some better teams, so give him some respect. only 21 also and he can handle the pressure!
    important goals such as spurs,man u, west brom and mackems…

    so i don’t know how you can doubt him! he’s our best striker by a mile.. even shearer had his flaws…

  • Blackley and Brownlie

    Mar 21, 2016 at 9:45 AM

    Comment #23

    I don’t recall anything special from De Jong except a good header (v Northampton?). The only other thing was a missed header from a yard out (v Villa?). The only reason I can think that so many fans consider him a clever player is that he’s got a big forehead and looks like a student. Sometimes someone on the blog says something, one or two agree and before you know it, it’s gained traction.

  • Jib

    Mar 21, 2016 at 9:46 AM

    Comment #24

    I’m not Graham Souness biggest fan.

    How ever in a pre-match mini tirade yesterday he made a couple of salient points.

    1.He said that when things go wrong in the modern game it’s always the manager that gets the blame – selection , tactics , training , etc always the manager with the players getting off scott free – players need to take more responsibility.

    2. Old pros – he said he learned more from the older players he encountered in his various clubs than any manager or coach ever taught him and that seems to have left the game.

  • Blackley and Brownlie

    Mar 21, 2016 at 9:55 AM

    Comment #25

    It’s the manager’s job to get inside the players’ heads and ensure they take responsibility. Souness couldn’t do it because he’s a c**k, whose tactics players don’t appreciate. Players take plenty of blame too. At any minute, if a manager doesn’t fancy them, they could be out of the door and lucky to gain a foothold in the lower leagues. Sounees is the tool who played a lad at Southampton who had been playing for Blyth Spartans, having never seen him play. He came on as a sub and was subbed. Clueless.

  • Blackley and Brownlie

    Mar 21, 2016 at 10:00 AM

    Comment #26

    Now Souness is saying coaches are no better than old pros, there’s fewer old pros and what there are, they don’t help to guide and mentor young players. Not like in his day. The good old days. What a useless gobshite.

  • Jib

    Mar 21, 2016 at 10:08 AM

    Comment #27


    Your mini mini tirade against Souness gives a wonderful insight into the workings of your mind and explains why you and I rarely see eye to eye.

    You see things as black and white when actually the world exists in shades of grey.
    Souness is a cock and a tool with no opinions worthy of your attention because he offended you with his treatment of a young player.


  • Blackley and Brownlie

    Mar 21, 2016 at 10:10 AM

    Comment #28

    I don’t buy this “too much money to care” line. It’s as if the opposition doesn’t get paid handsomely too. If you’ve played the game for nothing, you can have stinkers too, especially when the manager’s tactics undermine your best efforts.

  • Blackley and Brownlie

    Mar 21, 2016 at 10:17 AM

    Comment #29

    Jib @ 27
    Your opinion of me, as shown at 27, is black and white. Are we not allowed to rubbish Souness’s opinion when he’s talking shite? It has nothing to do with his treatment of a young player. It was great for the young player. A non league player getting half an hour of fame in the EPL because Souness is useless. It is everything to do with Souness being a grade 1 plonker in general. The young kid was just a prime example.

  • Goldmbemba

    Mar 21, 2016 at 10:19 AM

    Comment #30

    I expect Sunderland to beat west brom. We simply have to beat norwich just to stay in touch.

    We should have enough quality but really who can predict anything this season.

    Interesting that our goal came from a cross into our big striker’s head. Is it just me or do less and less teams attempt to play this way any more? I hope rafa is pragmatic and pursues this tactic for at least portions of the next game, I seem to remember this is how mitro scored a lot of his goals from anderlecht?

  • Blackley and Brownlie

    Mar 21, 2016 at 10:25 AM

    Comment #31

    I’ve googled this especially for you.

    After a playing career at the lower levels in France and Germany, and having already had failed trials at Port Vale, Gillingham, andBournemouth, Dia joined non-league club Blyth Spartans, where he made only one substitute appearance – on 9 November 1996 in a Northern Premier League game againstBoston United.[citation needed]

    Days later, Dia was signed by Southampton manager Graeme Souness, after Souness received a phone call purporting to be fromLiberian international and former FIFA World Player of the Year, George Weah. “Weah” told Souness that Dia was his cousin, had played for Paris Saint-Germain, and had played 13 times for his country. None of this was actually true, and the phone call to Souness was made by a fellow university student of Dia’s, suggesting that he should give Dia a chance with Southampton.[2] Souness was convinced, and without any due diligence, Dia was signed on a one-month contract.

    Dia played just one game for Southampton, wearing the number 33 shirt, against Leeds United on 23 November 1996; he had originally been scheduled to play in a reserve team friendly against Arsenal, but the match was cancelled due to a waterlogged pitch. In the match against Leeds, he came on as a substitute for Matthew Le Tissier after 32 minutes, but was later substituted himself (forKen Monkou) in the 85th minute;[3] Leeds won the match 2–0. Le Tissier said: “He ran around the pitch like Bambi on ice; it was very embarrassing to watch.”[4][5][6]

    Dia was released by Southampton two weeks into his contract.[1] He briefly played for non-league Gateshead, before leaving in February 1997.[1] Dia only played eight games for the North East outfit, including scoring on his debut in a 5–0 win over Bath City.[7]

    He went on to study business at Northumbria University in Newcastle, graduating in 2001.[8]

    Do you think Rafa would do this?

  • magscar

    Mar 21, 2016 at 10:30 AM

    Comment #32


    Not saying De Jong has pulled up any trees – he’s been injured for the majority of his time here and has only had patches of playing time. I don’t really buy into populist viewpoints – unless they coincide with my own take – not a vey usual occurence for me on here 😉

    I am talking about a match fit De Jongor at least one who can last for at least 60 mins who shows signs to me of being to fit into a 442 or 4231 in the dire circumstances we are in.

    We are always struggling in final 3rd and the only viable untried player we have there is De Jong. He may, like many before him( and now) not be able to cope with PL even if fully fit but would I feel benefit from a sustained spell in the side. Opinion only but that is what the game and the Blog is all about.

  • optimistic prime

    Mar 21, 2016 at 10:32 AM

    Comment #33

    I think we should start playing 352, we have no fullbacks of worth, we get over run in the middle and struggle to score.

    Lascalles Saylor Mbemba
    Townsend Anita Gini Shelvey Aaron’s
    Mitro DeJong/Cisse

    I’d swap the front 2 around and may even include Perez off the bench, I’d like DeJong on the pitch so it’s be him with Cisse or Mitro.

  • Jib

    Mar 21, 2016 at 10:33 AM

    Comment #34

    Some would commend Souness for giving the kid a months contract and a chance to prove himself , but hey ho you’ve decided all the words abut football that come out of the mouth of an ex captain of liverpool who has raised Euro FA and 1st division cups have no merit.

  • Jib

    Mar 21, 2016 at 10:40 AM

    Comment #35

    It must be more than coincidence that 2 of the rare games when De Jong actually started were the 2-0 Home win against Liverpool and the 2-1 away win against Spurs !

  • hibbitt

    Mar 21, 2016 at 10:42 AM

    Comment #36

    the folk on here gunning for Rafa are just plain fools the man’s been in charge for 10 days he hasn’t got a magic wand you must give him a chance it was a derby they never go as planned…….. he only has the players we have very little room for maneuver but there is improvement………………keep the faith don’t drive Rafa out give him the support and reason to stay not go…… one other thing the crowd were great yesterday never gave up supported the team and Rafa 100%… unlike a lot on here !!!!!

  • Jib

    Mar 21, 2016 at 10:48 AM

    Comment #37

    Rafa seems to be easing Siem into the side as if he recognises his class.

  • Ian Toon

    Mar 21, 2016 at 11:05 AM

    Comment #38

    This really has been a topsy-turvy season in the Premier League. I view success or failure as being increasingly attributable to the quality of manager/ coach. Slaven Bilic has been making the point which Ashley has clearly recognised in recent transfer windows that every PL club in the league now has the financial capacity to compete and buyquality/proper players. Until Benitez’s appointment we’ve lacked a strong decisive manager to have the vision to see what needs to be done to fashion “his team” and the authority to undertake it. Will circumstances now give us the chance?
    Bilic uses the illustration of Chelsea and Palace. Chelsea already had Costa, Fabregas and Hazard but Palace didn’t have Cabaye. The so called big clubs had already a nucleus of a complete squad and were largely restricted with the replenishment. However television money has increased PL clubs ability to be able to negotiate from a position of strength and with a level playing field.
    This makes it essential for the Rafa Revolution to progress with an even bigger PL tv bonanza next season in prospect. Relegation and Championship football will leave us marooned as the PL overall has a massive facelift in quality. You only need to look at the presence of Leicester, Spurs and West Ham at the top end of the table to appreciate the importance of a manager in all aspects of transfer activity. Even Stoke with Saquiri! Aside from an appreciation of the gulf in class between a Benitez and Carver it’s worth considering the wastage of transfer money over recent seasons on the recommendation of Carr. How could we have spent so much but still be bereft of defensive and ST talent. Irrespective of whether we stay up , we have to change our recruitment policy. Come the end of the season it’s time to thank Carr for his services. This is for another day though.

    Undoubtedly the increased demands of CL football can take a toll on squads. The point is that given existing squad numbers you can only replace players through wastage or replacement and this seems to have impacted particularly on the CL teams. There is no space in their squads without a major overhaul this summer.
    Television money means it’s far easier for so called lesser clubs to improve. That is Bilic’s conclusion. The league has been turned upside down. With good recruitment, good management there is Leicester City at the top and Spurs in second place,
    West Ham, bought Payet for £14 million from Marseilles – Bournemouth Gradel from St Etienne for £7 million; we bought Wijnaldum for £14.5 million from PSV and Palace Cabaye from PSG for £12 million.
    Mourinho at the PL launch last August predicted, that pretty much every club now had very good players and that it would be difficult for the top teams in England because of the competitive nature. He thought the aforementioned players could slot straight into the Chelsea team.
    It is already a long way from last season when the top four were Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United and there was a sense that only Tottenham and Liverpool could challenge that order. This campaign is not a one-off, a blip, it the sign of things to come. There is a lot of talent out there that will want to come to the Premier League and we need to be part of it.
    Those with the greatest resources will invariably filter their way back up to the top but things are certainly changing. Bilic talks of it in terms of talent migration to the PL
    Our survival hopes remain alive despite a low quality game. We finished stronger and with movement and composure fashioned through the introduction of De Jong. A must starter against Norwich for what could get even the faint hearted believing we can be party to the PL next season. It’s not a lost cause Benitez will have more preparatory time.

  • Offkey

    Mar 21, 2016 at 11:09 AM

    Comment #39

    I wish there was a word limit

  • Rotonda heights

    Mar 21, 2016 at 11:10 AM

    Comment #40

    over rated

    carr and charnley shouldn’t survive whichever league we’re in.


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