It’s something that former head coach Steve McClaren talked about yesterday, that he wasn’t forceful enough at Newcastle and should have demanded that an obvious weakness in the team, the lack of a top center-back and a proven goalscorer should have been fixed either last summer or in January.
We all know striker Charlie Austin was available, but we suppose Steve was overruled by Lee Charnley and Graham Carr, who were running (ruining?) the club for Mike Ashley last season – and their ineptitude was a major reason we were relegated.
Daniel Agger while at Liverpool – retired last week
Weak management from Steve McClaren was another major reason and in terms of the center-back position, Steve cooked his own goose by giving Fabricio Coloccini a new contract last August, because that meant it would not have made sense to bring in another center-back – since we had already signed young Chancel Mbemba.
So the two positions Rafa Benitez knows need to be strengthened this year are striker and center-back – and he will strengthen those positions.
Towards the end of the season Rafa had young Chancel Mbemba and Jamaal Lascelles looking like the center-back pairing of the future for Newcastle, but we need more experience in the back-line and more competition for places.
Newcastle have been linked with Fulham striker Ross McCormack, who would be great at Newcastle for next season, but £15M is a lot to pay for him.
As far as center-back goes we think Rafa wants to bring in somebody experienced to replace Coloccini, who is almost certain to be let go this summer – to at least get his huge wages (£65K/week) off the wage bill.
We thought Daniel Agger would be a great free agent signing, but surprisingly the former Liverpool center-back retired from football last week at the young age of 31.
It will be interesting to see who Rafa does bring in this summer for a center-back and a striker.
The other defensive position that needs strengthening is full back and maybe getting in an experienced player who can play on either side and can challenge Daryl Janmaat, Vurnon Anita, Paul Dummett and others for a full back position is probably what’s needed.
We have been linked with former Real Madrid and Liverpool full-back Alvaro Arbeloa, who has played for Rafa and knows his methods well – and Alvaro has massive experience.
30 year-old former Newcastle left-back Jose Enrique is also available as a free agent from Liverpool.