Howay the Lads !
– The Captain
Long-term club and team captain, Jamaal Lascelles – a real leader of men on Tyneside.
Not any longer!
Just as the club he’s captained for almost five-and-a-half years appears to be making giant leaps forward on all fronts – he starts whinging and whining about moving to a ‘bigger club’. The board rightfully slapped down a paltry offer of around £25 million in the summer (2021).
Lascelles reaction following this was certainly not in keeping with standards befitting a Newcastle United player currently in command of the armband. The now four-times capped England International (caps gained for his performances for Newcastle United) was subsequently dropped completely and placed on the transfer market, with the club looking for around £60 million.
I’d be talking pish if I said that this didn’t enrage me – because it did, but the anger was soothed somewhat as I knew that sufficient succession planning for this eventuality had been put in place at the start of our journey…
A few weeks later Jamaal came to me with the news that he was now content and willing to remain in the North-East.
Naw – nae chance, son…!!!
Although I would continue to use the player when required – his game time was indeed limited.
Pretty much as soon as the winter transfer window (January 2022) opened for business, we accepted a handsome offer rising to £51 million for the 28-year-old Englishman.
There’s no room for sentiment in this game..!!
His successor immediately commands a starting birth at the heart of our defence, accompanied by the captains armband and comes in the form of former Rangers youth graduate, Ross McCrorie – a warrior of a player with some fine footballing ability to boot. The young Scotsman was the first of two players we’d bring in from the Glasgow giants – with of course Alfredo ‘El búfalo’ Morelos being the other to have been smuggled over to England.
Until Lascelles departure – McCrorie was used as part of a strict rotation policy, with a fair chunk of his starts being in central midfield as a ball winner.
– Utilising the player in central midfield has helped in developing his technical ability – thus making him a more rounded player as a whole.
On the national scene – Steve Clarke must be accredited with all the plaudits for what he’s achieved with Scotland.
He’s guided the national team to their first major tournament since the FIFA World Cup France ‘98.
(I was 12 years-old)
FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifying: Group 10
Now, although I can take none of Steve’s credit – I will say this;
Look at that back four… Only four goals conceded.
There must be a direct correlation between Scotland’s relative success and the mean defence – featuring players from the current top three sides in the Premier League;
Andy Robertson – Liverpool
Kieran Tierney – Manchester City
Ross McCrorie – Newcastle United
Although I remained confident that Nathan Ampadou would be strong enough to step in at a centre-back when necessary – the fact still remained that we had undoubtedly been weakened due to the departure of Lascelles.
Ampadou will almost certainly stay at Chelsea following the expiry of his loan deal – leaving us with Ross McCrorie, Perr Schuurs and the ageing José Luis Palomino.
By no means a crisis, however, we’d absolutely need to bolster that area of the team.
I’m pleased to announce today that, Newcastle United football club have secured a deal for England International defender, Harry Maguire from 2015/16 Premier League champions, Leicester City – with the club’s hierarchy brokering a deal for around £22 million.
Not bad considering we were able to bank something like £51 million for Lascelles.
Harry meets the criteria for what we’re looking for so, I’m delighted to get him.
Harry Maguire and Ross McCrorie looks like it’ll be our main starting combination for next season with the other pair being on rotation.
Our use of rotation has been almost flawless this season – with the club fighting on domestic and European fronts until the bitter end.
Just as I get this down on paper [paper, because I get enjoyment from writing freehand with a high grade 2H pencil to be exact – before dictating what I’ve written – converting it into text form to be sent via email and on to WordPress].
We’re at a crucial point in the season; Arsenal await in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals.
The North-London club have the potential to kill-off our hopes in Europe and in the Premier League within the space of a fortnight as we still need to entertain them in the league.
In relation to our participation in domestic competitions – only the Premier League continues to be a possibility – not that I’m complaining.
Seven games to go…!!!
Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City being the toughest of our remaining fixtures.
I can’t express just how ruthless this Newcastle United side has become;
Deadly in every department.
We are in command of a four-point lead over Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool after the Merseyside juggernaut dropped some stupid points in recent weeks.
Howay the Lads!