An in-depth look into Newcastle United's squad, are they ready? – Part 1 – Defensive

With Newcastle’s Premier League campaign just around the corner, many fans have been crying out to see more signings from the club, marquee signings look unlikely which begs the question: Are Newcastle United ready for the upcoming campaign?

This will be a two-part article where I come to the conclusion if Newcastle United are ready for the Premier League. Today, I will be analysing the squad defensively and tomorrow offensively. So, let’s start from the back with:

Goalkeepers: Karl Darlow, Rob Elliot, Freddie Woodman & Tim Krul

Rafael Benitez has been searching all window for a new goalkeeper but to no avail, all four of Newcastle’s keepers have been linked with moves away from the club although depth-wise many would consider the goalkeeping department to be Newcastle’s strongest position.

However, Freddie Woodman and Tim Krul are likely to leave this Summer meaning that Karl Darlow and Rob Elliot would be left to fight over the number one jersey. Darlow in-particular made a few mistakes last season but also kept Newcastle in countless games, he is only getting better with age and the competition from Elliot can only do him good.


Full Backs: DeAndre Yedlin, Paul Dummett, Javier Manquillo, Massadio Haidara, Jesus Gamez & Achraf Lazaar

In his time at Newcastle United, Benitez has commonly played with a Wing-Back & Full-Back. In most matches, this was the partnership of Yedlin and Dummett, neither of which are great defenders at Premier League level. If either gets injured you would expect Javier Manquillo and Jesus Gamez to step-in. Manquillo was slated by Sunderland fans for their entire 2016/17 campaign and we rarely saw Jesus Gamez in a Newcastle shirt last season. Not exactly promising signs.

VERDICT: Could do with improvement, but they’ll do for now.

Centre Backs: Florian Lejeune, Ciaran Clark, Jamaal Lascelles, Chancel Mbemba, Grant Hanley

My favoured Newcastle United partnership has changed multiple times in the last five months, going from Clark & Lascelles to Clark & Mbemba to Clark and Lejeune. Lascelles looks a shell of his early form under Benitez although it was rumoured that he played four months with an injury so we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and Hanley, well Hanley looks likely to stay because no one is willing to pay his wages alongside his fee.

My sole issue with Clark & Lejeune as our likely partnership is neither are blessed with any sort of pace, meaning they would have to constantly rely on their ability to bully a striker. Benitez doesn’t appear to be a fan of Mbemba meaning our only centre-back who is quick and comfortable on the ball is benched. This being said, if Clark can continue his form from last year and Lejeune looks as impressive as he has in pre-season, I think Newcastle will be competent in this department.


Defensive midfielders: Issac Hayden, Mikel Merino & Jack Colback

The main role of a Newcastle United defensive midfielder is to break-up the play and give Jonjo Shelvey as much freedom as possible, Hayden did a great job of it last season and was severely missed when he was injured, Colback just simply couldn’t do the job Hayden managed and I can’t see Colback being any better this season, Colback has been replaced by Mikel Merino and is only still at the club because he’s versatile and realistically getting him off our books was never going to be easy. (Rant over)

Neither, Hayden or Merino have experience in the Premier League and realistically both only have a one and a half seasons worth of first-team experience. Both seem to have the potential to be great players but I feel there is something lacking here.

VERDICT: Nearly ready, experience is needed from someone other than Jack Colback.

So there is my analysis of Newcastle defensively, one or two players still needed but they’re nearly there. Come back tomorrow to find my analysis of Newcastle from an attacking stance.

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