After a terrible start to the new season under Steve McClaren, the signs are there that Newcastle have the ability to get out of danger and avoid a relegation scrap this season.
The starting XI available to the former England manager is not loaded with world-beaters by any means, but there is talent in the team that can guide the club to safety. The turning point for the Tyneside outfit after a diabolical start to the campaign was a 6-2 home victory over newly promoted Norwich City, which has sparked an improvement in fortunes for the St James’ Park outfit.
On that day it was summer signing Georginio Wijnaldum that stole the headlines, scoring four goals in an astounding performance to send the club’s ardent fans into rapture. Of the new faces to arrive at the club in the summer, the Netherlands international looks, arguably, like the most equipped to make a major impact this season.
With skill, speed, excellent work-rate and an eye for goal, Wijnaldum appears to be a player that Newcastle will need if they are to get themselves out of the lower reaches of the division.
However, despite the Dutchman’s undoubted ability and the promise of other new players such as Chancel Mbemba, Florian Thauvin and Aleksandar Mitrovic, the recently-arrived stars should not be expected to be the team’s talismen.
For a club struggling to tread water, it really should be the older heads and those that have been with Newcastle for a couple of seasons that lead the team out of danger. As such, looking at the team’s midfield, the Toon fans can justifiably be excited about Wijanldum’s arrival, but they should be expecting someone like Moussa Sissoko to be a driving force in the side instead.
The former Toulouse man has shown during his time in the North East that he can be a devastating weapon at both ends of the pitch, and has the drive and penetration to propel Newcastle to new heights.
A France international and a player held in very high regard, Sissoko has been linked with a St James’ Park exit consistently over the last number of transfer windows, with plenty of Champions League qualified teams reportedly running the rule over the 26-year-old.
The latest rumours claim that the all-action midfielder is demanding a whopping salary if he is to end the speculation and commit to Newcastle with a new contract.
One way or the other, if the Geordies are to avoid a season of stress and potential demotion to the Championship, Sissoko has to lead the side by example and justify the hype surrounding him.
One of McClaren’s major dilemmas this term will be just how to get the best from the versatile star, who can be used in a number of different positions.
Despite the fact that Wijnaldum may well have ignited Newcastle’s resurgence with his quartet of strikes against Norwich, the emphasis should now be on Sissoko, not the new man, to inspire the club to consistently improved performances.