What next for Newcastle after Cabaye and Kinnear departures?
Newcastle United are sitting healthily in eighth place in the Premier League, just three points behind reigning champions Manchester United, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
Joe Kinnear, on Monday, resigned from his position as club director of football, following a seven-month tenure without a permanent signing.
Although his departure may be welcome news to Magpies fans, it still does not hide the fact that they sold arguably their best player Yohan Cabaye for around £20m, and brought in no like-for-like replacement.
United did manage to recruit Dutch international forward Luuk de Jong on loan to compliment the likes of Papiss Cisse and the only other Kinnear temporary signing Loic Remy, but there is still a gaping hole where Cabaye once was.
The Frenchman had a very impressive spell at St. James’ Park, with total stats of 17 goals and 10 assists in 79 matches over his two-and-a-half-year stay. It seems without their maestro, they are likely to slip further down the table following their poor recent form, including another 3-0 home defeat to arch-rivals Sunderland last weekend.
Newcastle’s recent results list is not an easy one to look at for fans, gaining just four points in their last six games, putting them second bottom in the form table over that period, ahead of only basement club Fulham.
Often utilised in the number 10 role this season, Cabaye has now left the position to a couple of contenders, with Hatem Ben Arfa the likely candidate.
Inconsistent Ben Arfa has been used more sparingly by Newcastle boss Alan Pardew this campaign, and it remains to be seen if he can be the man to perhaps shift into a more central attacking role to support the striker.
Another option is Moussa Sissoko being pushed further up, with Cheick Tiote and Vurnon Anita behind him in support. Although the former Toulouse man prefers the supportive role, he is no stranger to advancing up the pitch.
Playing 4-4-2 could be another good shout, now that the club have a total of four frontmen vying for a starting role. Two from Cisse, Remy, de Jong and Shola Ameobi could work well as a front pairing with a duo behind in centre midfield and pair of wingers out wide.
The Magpies do desperately need a playmaker, however, and it looks as if they will grind out the rest of the season as best they can to hold as high position as possible, where they can make a move for a player in the summer.
There is no need to back Newcastle for a top-10 finish as with odds of 1/25, there will not be much of a return. A 2/1 bottom-10 finish sounds more tempting, but as United are 12 points ahead of 11th-placed Stoke City, it seems very unlikely at this point.