What Newcastle United’s starting XI could look like in 2015/16
That got our football experts thinking what Steve McClaren’s starting XI could look like for the new season. Here’s what we think:
Goalkeeper: Tim Krul
Dutch stopper Krul was thought to be one of those who might be moved on at the right price by controversial Magpies owner Mike Ashley, but appears to be staying on Tyneside. Karl Darlow has ended his association with Nottingham Forest and is now Newcastle’s for keeps, but looks set to warm the bench.
Right back: Daryl Janmaat
A bright light during an otherwise dismal season defensively last term, Netherlands right back Janmaat is also part of the growing Dutch contingent at St James’ Park. He should be one of the first name’s on the Magpies teamsheet,
Centre back: Fabricio Coloccini
Club captain Coloccini continues to have plenty to offer, but needs younger legs alongside him now to cover the attributes he no longer possesses. This was painfully obvious on more than one occasion last term, though his positioning sense still remains good. Sidelined Steven Taylor, who will miss the start of the season through another long-term injury, and Mike Williamson, woeful at times last term, ought to be behind Coloccini.
Cameroon international and Marseille skipper Nkoulou has emerged as a top target for Newcastle after his current employers refused to sell him to Ligue rivals Lyon. Should Aston Villa or bitter Tyne and Wear rivals Sunderland storm a march on the Magpies, however, then McClaren has English talent Jamaal Lascelles joining Darlow in returning from Forest, and he could emerge as a regular.
Left back: Paul Dummett
Another best of British at the Toon, academy product and left-footer Dummett should target a role in defence, as there are huge question marks over the capabilities of French youngster Massadio Haidara. This defensive berth could do with an upgrade, and McClaren might want to consider a move for Hull City and Scotland starlet Andy Robertson.
Defensive midfield: Cheick Tiote
Silky, skilful Premier League playmakers fear facing Ivorian destroyer Tiote, who is strong in the tackle and always walking a disciplinary tightrope. This midfield bite is essential, despite the label of walking red card which rightly follows him. Young Mehdi Abeid and Gael Bigirimana act as backup to Tiote.
Newcastle have got their man for a reported £14.5m, and Wijnaldum would best suit them operating narrow on the right of midfield given freedom to operate in a box-to-box or playmaker role. This is where he excelled skippering PSV, and won the Dutch Footballer of the Year award. Wijnaldum offers so much more to his game in goals and guile than compatriot Vurnon Anita.
Left midfield: Jack Colback
Another who is important in the balance of the side. Colback has shown a willingness to fill in down the left-hand side of the pitch, but performed best in the engine room. The Magpies’ many wide options, especially Yoann Gouffran and Gabriel Obertan, just cannot cut it consistently at Premier League level, though there’s hope for England youth star Rolando Aarons.
Attacking midfield: Moussa Sissoko
No firm interest in France international midfield all-rounder Sissoko has materialised yet, so we think he could stay at the Toon. Remy Cabella could yet move on, but should be deployed in this advanced central area rather than shunted out to the flanks if he remains.
Support striker: Siem de Jong
Illness and injury mean ex-Ajax captain De Jong is yet to really gather any momentum behind him in a Newcastle shirt. He’ll be like a new signing in many ways, and should be given the liberty of playing just behind an out-and-out striker. McClaren should take note of Slovenia’s Haris Vuckic, and his prolific scoring loan spell at Rangers as a reserve option.
It appears attention has turned from QPR frontman Charlie Austin to Serbian striker Mitrovic as Newcastle remodel their attack. Papiss Cisse cannot be relied upon to stay fit, while livewire Ayoze Perez is yet to reach his full potential. A big money move for Mitrovic is a gamble, but could turn out to be brilliant business. The less said about Emmanuel Riviere the better.