All entries for Sunday 05 November 2006

November 05, 2006

How can Roeder turn things around at Newcastle?

Yesterday’s home defeat against Sheffield United pushed the Magpies to level bottom of the Premiership, and pushed manager Glen Roeder a step closer to losing his job. Now I think most people would agree that Newcastle’s problems are far more deep routed than simply their manager, however from an immediate point of view Roeder must stop the rot before the Toon Amry get properly dragged into a relegation battle.

From watching the game yesterday Newcastle clearly have talented players, however owing to their rather dubious tactical play, stars such as Damian Duff are wasting their talents working hard to achieve nothing. In my opinion a lot of the side’s tactical problems seem to stem from Roeder (and previous managers’) transfer policy whioh has left United with many, many decent options in some positons and none in others.

At the moment it seems to me that the club’s selection of forwards is the greatest example of this problem. Everyone knows that you need to be able to score to do well in the Premiership, but at the moment Newcastle are just not finding the net. In fact the Magpies have only scored two goals in their last five Premiership games.

So why aren’t Newcastle scoring? Looking at the forwards themselves, currently Roeder has eight players which he can potentially pick to play in a forward position (Owen, Martins, Ameobi, Duff, Dyer, Sibierski, Luque and Rossi). Of these players five have played regularly for their country and four have cost upwards of five million so there is obviously not a lack of quality. However taking a closer look, of these eight players, only one (Ameobi) can be considered a target man. With Ameobi injured, as he is now, there is virtually no potential for making a decent forward partnership.

In the Sheffield game Roeder went with Duff and Rossi up front and I would argue that both players, but especially Duff, had decent games against Sheffield. However the blunt truth is that Newcastle did not score (and did not look like scoring). Part of the reason for this is that Rossi and Duff had to spend far too much time using their skill to keep the ball away from Jagielka and Davis in the Sheffield defense. Whereas lesser, but stronger players could have just outmuscled the Blades defense Rossi and Duff had to use all their guile and skill to maintain possession. Often they were relatively success at doing this, however the whole situation was just a massive waste of their skill.

Having said that I can see why Roeder has been tempted to stick Duff up front as he is a talented player who gives you a game in any attacking position, however in my opinion Newcastle cannot afford to be wasting their star players by playing them out of position. Imagine if Craig Moore gets injured, will Scott Parker go in defense? I think Roeder should take a leaf out of Martin O’Neil’s book and twist his formation to match his player rather than twisting his players to match his formation. For me the key to this could be Luque who looks like a pretty decent player whenever I see him play. Certainly he came on yesterday just before United went 1-0 down and put in a very good performance in difficult cirmcumstances.

My Newcastle side for the game against Man City next week would be:

4-1-2-3

(GK) Harper

(RB) Carr
(CB) Taylor
(CB) Moore
(LB) Babayaro

(CM) Butt

(CM) Emre
(CM) Parker

(FW) Rossi
(FW) Luque
(FW) Duff

Obviously this side has certain drawbacks, most notably having Luque as the centre forward, however I think if Newcastle keep playing to feet down the centre, Luque’s hold up play would be good enough to free Duff and Rossi on the wings. In midfield Emre and Parker would have license to roam safe in the knowledge that Butt would be clearly up right behind them. Width would have to be provided by Carr and Babayaro, however I believe both players are decent enough to cope with this added responsibilty.

What do other people think? Any Newcastle fans want to have their say?


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