After a season of blood-boiling inconsistency for Newcastle it is vital the club look to steady the chaos at St James’ Park with a summer of solid recruitment.
Steve McClaren has been, after a couple of previous attempts, finally installed as the new Magpies manager, following in the bumbling footsteps of John Carver and charged with restoring the club to some form credibility.
Provided he receives the financial backing required to achieve that goal, the former Middlesbrough boss has been handed a contract long enough to provide stability.
His first task must be to improve a defensive unit that conceded the most goals of any Premier League side to remain in the division last term, although fans may argue that landing a proven striker after years of trying is equally as vital.
A better backline would nonetheless be a stronger footing on which to build on for McClaren though, seeing as Papiss Cisse, provided he remains at St James’ Park, has proven he is capable of being the goal-getter Newcastle crave.
No matter how many trinkets the Magpies have in the final third, they will be hard pressed to win their side many games if the defenders aren’t able to play their part.
Indeed, in the 2011/12 campaign famous for Newcastle’s fifth-place finish – a season in which Demba Ba and Cisse shared the attacking load with 16 and 13 Premier League goals apiece – the Geordies owned a top-10 defence. This season they had the second worst.
If the discord surrounding the club played a part in that then so be it. Only Mike Williamson will know, for example, whether he deliberately got himself sent off against Leicester as Carver suggested, for example, but there are stats to suggest that McClaren needs more reliable stoppers nonetheless.
No Newcastle player of any position managed to win more than 68.9 percent of their tackles during the course of last season, whether they played a handful of matches or were a regular feature of the first team.
There were 11 defenders alone that played more than 15 games for their clubs and bettered that mark, along with countless others that managed it in just a fraction of appearances.
Finding some tough tackling defenders would go a long way to helping Newcastle climb back up the league. For one it would make them harder to play against, rather than the relative pushovers they were last term, but would also resonate better with a fanbase that is perhaps one of, if not the most, expectant in the league.
One man that would certainly ingratiate himself with the Newcastle support through his love of the tackle is Jordan Amavi, the French left-back currently playing for Nice.
According to reports, Amavi is wanted by Atletico Madrid, although the regularity with which Newcastle seem to lure players over from across the Channel shouldn’t be enough to dissuade the club in a potential pursuit, especially as Aston Villa are also interested.
If Amavi proves to be out of reach, then how about another Nice player? 27-year-old Romain Genevois made the most successful tackles of any centre-back in the top five leagues last season, with 84. Newcastle’s most proficient tackler in that position was Fabricio Coloccini, who managed 49.
With Mike Ashley expecting a top eight finish with McClaren in charge and Ladbrokes making the club 5/2 just to finish above the fold, adding a bit of steel to the backline must be priority number one.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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