Newcastle United are plain sailing in the Championship. Too big and too strong for opponents, they are battering teams into submission. Yet a upon seemingly likely return to the Premier League, questions remain over who would cut it back in the big time and who needs to be let go.
This season has finally had some cheer for the Geordies, top of the league by six points with a game in hand on West Brom. More importantly they are eight points clear of third placed Nottingham Forest with a game in hand. The Championship title is of no concern to Newcastle United fans. Just Promotion. Chris Hughton has performed admirably in the managerial role, that there can be no doubt. But with one eye on the future where will Newcastle United look to offload some of the players for a Premier League survival campaign.
Firstly in my opinion Nicky Butt’s days in a Newcastle United shirt are numbered. Resigned to a bench role this season after being one of the best performers in Newcastle’s last season in the Premier League. It appears age has finally caught up with the former Manchester United midfielder. The 35yr old has only made 16 appearances for Newcastle all season. In the games I’ve seen him play he definitely looks off the pace and his passing has become poor. The player himself has said this could be his last season playing. He told the Journal ‘I don’t know if the legs have got another season in them yet, but I’m feeling OK at the moment.’
Furthermore I think this should be Shola Ameobi’s last season on Tyneside. The Newcastle United striker has had a fair old crack at taking the No. 9 shirt for himself and never really fulfilled his obvious potential. The 28 year old is at the point where Newcastle can receive a decent offer for him and keeping him on much longer will only stifle the progress of Andy Carroll and Nile Ranger. He has been unlucky with injuries this season and when he has played is amongst the goals. But in the Premier League I just don’t believe his strikes will be enough to ensure survival.
The loan signing of Fitz Hall should most certainly not be made permanent or a contract extension to the extremely inconsistent Fabrice Pancrate. Neither player look worth of a Premiership side. Whilst I can understand the signing of these two, Hall to cover defensively and Pancrate to add competition for places, they are not players Newcastle should look to keep.
The old conundrum of Joey Barton, should we sell him on or keep him? Well for me we should keep him, his ever closing return from injury will give Newcastle some fresh legs in midfield as we turn the final bend of the season. If he shows some of his ability and gets his head down, he could be a vital asset in the Premier League. Joey Barton is most certainly of Premiership quality. Leon Best is a signing made by Chris Hughton I just don’t understand. Time needs to be given, I accept this but he looks like the pressure of playing for such a big club is bearing much on him. Yet to score for the Geordies I would seriously consider whether he is of any note in a Premier League campaign.
The jury is still out on new signing Wayne Routledge. He has performed admirably for Newcastle United since his arrival, yet question marks remain over his Premiership credentials after not taking advantage of spells at Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa. He deserves one last shot after his consistency so far in the Championship. Peter Lovenkrands is another who should be kept on.
What is pretty obvious is Newcastle will lack goals in the Premier League. Against Championship sides they are scoring four, five and six, especially at St James Park. In The Premier League it will be an entirely different prospect. To maintain Premier League status I think some major surgery will be needed.
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