By Samidh Bhattacharyya
Do Newcastle United need a new right-back? Not as much as they need a natural left-back.
Ever since the admission from Yohan Cabaye that he would love to see one of his closest friends in the French squad join Newcastle, numerous rumours linking Mathieu Debuchy have been doing the rounds. At the same time, Newcastle have opened talks with Crystal Palace over youngster Nathaniel Clyne as Danny Simpson nears the exit door.
Here’s a question – do we really need a right-back when we already have at least 4 players who can play in that position? Here’s my answer – A quick glance at the current NUFC first team squad yields the following names in supposed order of first team plans- Danny Simpson, Davide Santon, Ryan Taylor, James Perch. The other players who have played at right-back in the past include Steven Taylor, James Tavernier and for Argentina, Jonas Gutierrez. Is it really a position we need reinforcements for? I would argue not.
Instead, I think Alan Pardew should be looking to bring in a left-back, a position we don’t really have a specialist for. Davide Santon has been doing reasonably well ever since he became a regular left-back in the side. Before him, Ryan Taylor also did exceptionally well when he was asked to fill the position up. But neither of them are natural left-backs. Santon started his career as a right sided winger and then a right-back, and even as a left-back, he cuts in from the wings and takes the ball on his right foot ever so often, thus reducing proper utilization of the width of the pitch. As for Ryan Taylor, after last season’s belter even Sunderland fans know about his stronger foot and we all know where he prefers to play.
Is Shane Ferguson cover at left-back? Yes, but he’s not a natural left-back of the quality we need. Next season we’ll be competing against clubs like Liverpool, Tottenham and Everton and all of them have atleast one quality left-back at the club (Jose Enrique – yes he is quality, Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Leighton Baines respectively).
So even if Simpson goes, we already have a quality and already settled right-back in Santon, with Ryan Taylor as back up. The team would be strengthened tenfold if we buy a solid left-back with a natural left foot. We will not only be solid defensively, but going forward it would add to the width of our game and ensure a healthy supply of crosses for the big boys up front- Ba and Cisse.
If we don’t buy a left-back however, we will once again go into a season depending heavily on Gutierrez to protect the left-back, and any, god forbid, injury or suspension to him would expose our entire left flank to quick wingers of the opponent.
Looking at left-backs who have been linked to Newcastle in the past, Erik Pieters is head and shoulders ahead in terms of both, mentions and quality, from the rest. But his price, combined with his aspirations would probably keep him out of reach for Newcastle. The only other name that comes to mind is Wayne Bridge, but his wage demands are way too high for the current club policy. Graham Carr, who recently signed a eight year contract, can probably find a good replacement if given time and money, but the question is – has Pardew asked him to look for a left-back?
As a fan, do you think a left-back should be our first priority? Will you be happy to see us give up on Debuchy and chase a left-back instead?
Author: Samidh Bhattacharyya is a 25-year old Newcastle fan living in Winter Park, Florida. He has been a supporter of the Magpies since 1998. His favourite memory is Alan Shearer’s goal against Man United in a 4-3 win. In the same game, Shearer and Keane got into an altercation which resulted in Keane being given his marching orders.