With the news that Steven Taylor is apparently doubtful for this weekend’s crunch game against local rivals Sunderland following a possible recurrence of the hamstring injury that has been keeping him out of the season thus far the spot light seems to have shone back on Newcastle United’s transfer policy. By that I mean, our lack of one.
Add this to the news that Newcastle United captain Fabricio Coloccini will be out until at least Christmas, Newcastle United’s defensive options look worrying bleak, which would make one wonder, what exactly was Kinnear thinking when he was devising his strategy for signings over the summer? This is a man who facilitated the sale of utility man James Perch – who often covered at centre half, and vetoed the free signing of the then FC Twente defender Douglas, both of whom would have seen us look a lot stronger in this essential position.
Back in June, Joe Kinnear was brought in as Director of Football in a midst of self-praise about how he could pick up the phone to “any manager in world football” and attract some of the world’s finest players. He then went to ‘answer’ his critics by saying “judge me on my signings” – a fair enough request – one that most Newcastle fans seemed to abide by. For those of you with short memories, let me just remind you that Kinnear did not bring in a single solitary permanent signing over the summer. Not one. His only signing was the loan capture of Loic Remy, who admittedly is proving quite popular on Tyneside. So it is fair to say that if one were to judge Kinnear on his signings, then one could determine that he has been an unmitigated failure.
Many fans have defended the strategy of Ashley’s right hand man by claiming that our squad is deep enough. It isn’t. As much as I like Paul Dummett, the lad is not a centre half. Williamson puts in a shift, but is quite frankly not good enough to be a week in week out starter, and M’biwa, while talented, makes too many mistakes and hasn’t quite got up to speed. Anyone looking at our options at centre half, cannot possibly think we have enough depth here, not just in numbers, but in quality.
Add to the widespread belief that we needed to bolster our attacking options considerably in the summer, it would appear that we do not have depth in any area other than in midfield. If the likes of Remy, Ben Arfa or Gouffran were to suffer an injury, then we would be stuck with Shola or Cisse, neither of whom have inspired much confidence in the Newcastle United faithful.
The common retort to this is, ‘if any side suffers injuries, it will have an effect them’ which is true of course. However, what differs with Newcastle is the degree to which we are affected. Arsenal for example, have the most amount of injuries of all Premier League teams this year (7) yet still find themselves atop the Premier League table. Why? Because they have true squad depth. While we do not have the resources that Arsenal do, we do have the requisite resources to ensure that when injury strikes, we have men waiting in the wing to slot straight in. It is how a football club, when run correctly, operates.
It’s not Kinnear’s fault really. I know that may seem confusing to some of you. It’s supposedly Kinnear’s job to go out and sign players, we didn’t sign players so surely it is Kinnear who has to carry the can right? Wrong. Just like Pardew, Kinnear is a product of the owner. The only reason either man is there is down to the whims of one man. Mike Ashley. Kinnear probably failed to some degree in carrying out his job because, let’s face it, he’s an idiot, but to another degree, he was most likely prevented from carrying out his job down to Mike’s insistence on putting balance sheets before trophies, and stability over success (the latter breeds the former by the way). So who is really to blame for us not signing players? I’ll leave that one for you to ponder.
Games against our fierce rivals have now been used as a gauge of how our season is going. We are heading into these derbies no longer feeling that it is a given that we will take all 3 points, and that is not good enough in my opinion. Not only that, but we had to suffer the ignominy of Sunderland coming to St James’ Park to, not only beat for the 1st time in 5 years, and the 1st time at St James’ Park in 13 years, but they also humiliated us. Sunday is an opportunity to put that right. To claim back some pride again and come home with 3 points. It will be interesting to see what impact, if any, not having Coloccini, M’biwa and possibly Steven Taylor will have on our defensive performance.
If we lose, I know my anger will be directed at one person and I’ll give you a clue as to who that might be – it’s not Pardew or Kinnear.
What do you think? Now that injuries are beginning to show, is our squad deep enough? Was it Kinnear’s fault for not bringing in more players, or does it go higher than him? Should Pardew be getting more from the players he has or is his hands tied? I’d love to hear your views.