Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe is set to be presented with his first opportunity to pick up points for the club this weekend as they face Brentford in the Premier League at St James’ Park on Saturday.
Howe has the chance to shake up the starting XI and stamp his identity on the side, which could result in a number of changes against Thomas Frank’s team.
One player who the ex-Bournemouth boss must ruthlessly axe from the starting XI is Swedish international defender Emil Krafth.
Graeme Jones was in charge of three games as interim head coach after Steve Bruce’s dismissal and started the Swede as a centre-back in all three matches against Crystal Palace, Chelsea and Brighton.
In 89 minutes against the Seagulls, the defender did not win – or even compete for – a single duel. He also failed to make a single block, tackle or interception, having ended the match against Chelsea with only one of each as he won one of his three ground duels. He received SofaScore ratings of 6.2 and 6.4 in those matches, suggesting that he has been poor for the Magpies as a starter.
The warning signs were already there for Jones. Last year, Arsenal icon Ian Wright blasted the defender as being ‘out of his depth’ whilst playing as a right-sided centre-back against Tottenham.
He said: “I thought Krafth was way too out of his depth there, playing in that position. Steve Bruce, with the players that he’s got and how it’s going, they’re doing the best that they could but the mistakes cost them.”
However, Steve Howey jumped to Krafth’s defence earlier this year, claiming that he could improve whilst admitting that the 27-year-old has struggled.
He said: “I think the lad has struggled a bit, but he’s not the only one. He has been criticised very heavily, I think from Ian Wright, who said he was well out of his depth. There have been times when he’s had an afternoon of turmoil but listen, he could be a player that comes back in next season and gets better.”
His recent statistics suggest that he has not been able to get better, as Howey suggested, and that he is still out of his depth as a centre-back. Therefore, Howe must axe the £37k-per-week liability from the team and either change to a four-at-the-back formation or bring in another centre-back to replace him.