Following our recent sparkling run of form, I awoke on this bright new year with an optimistic approach to today’s away fixture. Our 2 recent away wins to Crystal Palace and Manchester United, coupled with our recent impressive performances, had me in buoyant mood about our chances. Needless to say then that the rather toothless display from our boys today in their 1-0 defeat against West Bromwich Albion – a team who had failed to win in their last 10 outings before today – was a bitter pill to swallow.
However, it wasn’t our inability to string 3 passes together that overly worried me. Nor was I overly annoyed by the lack of cutting edge we showed today. Of course these were issues that need addressing in training, but what really concerns me about today’s game is the injury to Fabricio Coloccini, and the 3 match suspension that will be dished out to Mathieu Debuchy.
Debuchy, rightfully, got sent off for a 2 footed lunge in the 63rd minute and a few short minutes afterwards, Coloccini had to be withdrawn with a knee injury that will supposedly keep him out for 4-6 weeks.
In my recent articles, I highlighted the need for investment in January as a means to keeping up our fine start to the season. I did concede, however, that we could still have a very good season with the current squad, so long as we avoided injuries and suspensions. Lo and behold, on the first day of the January transfer window, we have suffered both in 1 game. Surely, this is the wake up call that Mike Ashley needs. When Debuchy was last suspended, M’biwa slotted in at right back, and we coped very well in our win at home to Norwich with a make shift back four. In our next 3 games we are faced with a bit of a dilemma. Do we stick M’biwa at right back and slot Steven Taylor – a man who has not played for months, and is frankly not good enough – at centre half? Do we move Santon over to right back, Haidara to left back and M’biwa in for Colo? What’s more, what happens if another of our centre halves suffer an injury? Do we have the resources to cope?
Also, while I did say that I was not overly concerned by our lack of cutting edge today, I was worried about how ineffective Shola Ameobi, Loic Remy, Yoan Gouffran and Hatem Ben Arfa were today. I do feel that we need more attacking options in order to provide stiffer competition for the players we currently have.
I would hope that today’s result, injury and suspension will alert Mike Ashley to how exposed we can be if we were to suffer any more casualties, but I am not holding my breath. Also, I would like to make the point that we are 8th following 20 games, which is where I think a club like Newcastle United should be at this stage (if not higher) and while I am content with where we are currently, I should hope that our league form does not suffer following today’s casualties.
What do you think? Are you concerned following the loss of Debuchy and Coloccini? What signings would you sanction if you were Mike Ashley? (perish the thought!)