It’s been a good week for Newcastle, with Mike Ashley finally brushing the dust from his chequebook and working out how to use it.
This isn’t an attempt to guess how Alan Pardew is going to set-up his team with the new players, more just a way of illustrating the range of options which now exists.
So, firstly, how Newcastle could look if all players were available:
…and a variation, which fills-out nicely even without using James Perch or either of the Ameobi brothers.
The formations are unrealistic, and some players don’t necessarily fit in the roles which they’ve been assigned, but try and ignore – almost overnight, Newcastle have got the kind of depth they’ve needed this season. As always, some of those new players will adjust quicker to the English game than others, and one or two might not work out at all, but in theory everything looks much more healthy.
The recent signings will create a few issues with Pardew going to have to address, but they are at least healthy problems. Danny Simpson’s future, for example, looks to be elsewhere, given that Matthieu Debuchy is clearly now considered a first-choice in his position and Davide Santon could provide cover at right-back if needed.
That first side especially would be extremely competitive and probably excellent to watch – but more importantly, it would now take more than just one or two injuries to disrupt Newcastle. Theories about ‘purples’ and whatever other rhetoric Derek Llambias wants to invent are fine, but Premier League squads need players capable of replacing the rivals in their position – and not just second-rate square pegs shoved into round holes.
There’s more work to do in the Summer, but this transfer movement represents genuine progress.
A question for another day, and something to be picked up on in the coming weeks, is how this spending effects the pressure on Alan Pardew. Lots of people, myself included, have given Pardew a free-ride this year on account of the limitations he’s had to put up with – no such excuses exist anymore, and he’s now in position to be fairly judged.