It’s not a secret any more that Newcastle United have more or less a rigid transfer policy with very few exceptions. Everyone knows that to be offered a contract one must be below 26 years of age (more or less) and of course have talent oozing out of you. However with the season approaching, we ask ourselves whether there is a need to tweak the policy which so far has been a sacrosanct.
The reason I raise this question is because recently Newcastle released some of the more experienced players of the squad. These included Alan Smith, Peter Lovenkrands and Danny Guthrie.
Now Danny probably is not the most experience player in the squad but he was relatively experienced. As for Alan and Peter they had experienced in not only England but in Europe too. Peter played in Europe for Schalke 04 and of course with Glasgow Rangers, Alan on the other hand played in Europe for both Leeds and Manchester united and he was also the captain of Newcastle for the majority of 2009-10 season.
Another thing common to both these gentlemen is that they both had represented their countries as well. With these three no longer in the squad that leaves the squad a little short on experience.
Now the average age of the Newcastle United squad as it currently stands is approximately 26 years (24 players). This is taking into account 37 year old Steve Harper who may be moved on in the summer. The average also does not take ages of under 21 or 21 year old players who are going to have mostly a peripheral role this season.
These players include players like Shane Ferguson, Haris Vuckic and Mehdi Abeid. These facts will bring more downward bias to the average age and make the data even more negatively skewed. The most experienced players that are going to get any amount of reasonable playing time on the pitch are club captain Fabricio Coloccini, his Argentine compatriot Jonas Gutiérrez and to a lesser extent Shola Ameobi.
Now it’s important for any squad to have reasonable amount of experience so that different phases of the game can be seen out smoothly. It’s important to know when to play defensively and when to go on the offensive. Knowing when to keep the ball in the corner and when to sit back, playing according to the situation, as decisions taken on the pitch often have more bearing on the match than tactical decisions off it.
You can also categorize experience in two, one that the coaching staff has and can impart and the other that comes with playing and learned professionals. We have great confidence in Pardew’s coaching team; it’s the other type that we worry about a bit.
United of course this season have the Europa League to maybe usher in some youngsters and baptize them by fire. That should come in handy for seasons to come when United are pushing for greater honors. Another point to be considered here is that the playing squad for Newcastle is not exactly full of spring chickens who need guidance at every step of the way. They are all very capable of handling themselves in any given situation.
That is why we are intrigued. Should Mike Ashley and co. alter their policy slightly and consider bringing in players with experience that can be of use to Newcastle long term? In my humble opinion there would not be any harm in bringing a player or two who knows his onions and can share his knowledge, especially this season, during the course of which the gap between reserves and the first teamers can be closed a wee bit more. After all a great man once said that “experience is a teacher that gives you test first and a lesson afterwards”.
Let us know what you think, should we make exceptions to the transfer policy or should we not fix what is not broken.