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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Butt, Barton, Smith is a dismal selection for Newcastle

This has been a terrible season for Newcastle. They started off not playing that great but were picking up wins at a regular enough pace to push them up in the top half of the table. But I think the turning point of the season into a spiral of desperate, dismal football was the home match against Liverpool in mid-November where they lost 3-0 and it was a scoreline that flattered them. That was the day Allardyce was a doomed man at St James' and in early January was replaced by the legend of Newcastle, Kevin Keegan.

Yet as we enter March, Newcastle are winless under Keegan and as they stand-still in the table they are slowly but surely being caught up by relegation candidates. In other words Newcastle are being sucked into a relegation fight and have absolutely no momentum behind them to aid them in this battle.

For me there has been a lot of focus in the media on the lack of quality in Newcastle's defence as the main reason behind their terrible season. However, for me the main problem with Newcastle is the selection of Butt, Barton and Smith as three central midfielders.

They are three players who have a real lack of quality and attempt to make up for it by using aggressive tackling and competiveness that often crosses the line. In the Premier League alone Butt has ten yellow cards to his name; Smith has 8 yellows and one red, and Barton who has been injured for half the season has three yellows and a vicious streak as Ousmane Dabo can account for. Joey Barton and Alan Smith were bought by Sam Allardyce for a total of £11.8 million - and that alone is an indictment on Allardyce's short reign at Newcastle. 33 year old Nicky Butt is quite a bit past his prime and is now a very average Premier League midfield player. All three often play the game with a snarl on their face and its not great to see.

According to Soccernet's stats none of these three players have any assists to their name. This highlights the main thing I notice when watching these three players perform - a lack of creativity and footballing intelligence to generate quality football at Premier League level. For me they don't represent the attacking Newcastle that the Toon fans want to see and the fact that the three have also represented England is somewhat a reflection on the limitations on the England national team in the last decade.

As long as Keegan persits on playing all these three players in the same team I fear for Newcastle - they are not good enough in the crucial central area of the pitch to take good control of the game, create chances and get a goal or two. Whatever happens to Newcastle this season it has to be the case that for the good of their club Butt, Barton and Smith are not included in the same starting XI at the start of next season.


Blogger SKG said...

spot on analysis t. newcastle are an absolute shambles. they have been on a downward spiral ever since keegan all those years ago. i will not be surprised if they get relegated.

3/02/2008 6:36 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

I disagree in part. For me Butt should be the captain where I find his role in central midfield is both of a defensive and attacking role, helping to sweep under attack and coming in late on the attacks, spreading play and attacking at goal. Barton had good focus with Man City yet his temperament seeped in which the club could no longer tolerate and for someone like Pearce who is considerably a no-nonsense person, his patience must have worn extremely thin.

Smith had his qualities upfront and had them withered down by Ferguson's employment of him in central midifield to fill in the 'Keane' gap, not entirely but to some degree. Smith wasn't bought by Utd to do that and ever since he has provided lacklustre performances that restricted his selection. Arriving at Newcastle, he was employed to do the very same thing that had restricted him back at Man Utd. Why he was made captain was a bewildering question.

The team yesterday:


Beye Taylor Faye Jose Enrique,

Milner Barton Butt Duff

Owen Smith

With Smith upfront, Newcastle caused more chances and problems to Blackburn but couldnt take them, particularly with Owen in sharp form. Martins was on the bench and came on for Butt, I hope it wasn't for Smith to go central midfield.

I think Butt and Barton should be good enoughf or CM, with Milner and Duff on the flanks. Newcastle's current problems are with them taking their chances since they appear confident in creating them, following on from yesterday's performance.

Their other problem is defensive cover. Beye, I have said before, is not defender material and they need sharper, more attack-focused full backs. How does Keegan choose two out of Owen, Viduka and Martins? Viduka is tall and strong to hold the ball and play players in, and has good skill. that would leave either Owen or Martins.

They come to Anfield on Saturday, so I hope their disorientation in front of goal continues!


3/02/2008 7:21 pm

Blogger Skipper said...

T, I agree with you on this. I don't like watching players like that.

Smith is not a midfield player.

3/03/2008 3:24 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Smith is not a player fullstop.

Hasn't scored a league goal since November 2005.

If his name wasn't "Alan Smith" he'd be clogging around the Championship with other has-beens like Fowler, Phillips, Beattie and Hasselbaink.

3/03/2008 4:22 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Smith is not a player fullstop'

You are a prick !!!

3/03/2008 5:22 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry. Smith is wonderful then. Worth every penny. Hasn't scored for over 2 years but we'll let him lead the line in a relegation battle.

You're either Smudge's mum or clueless.

3/03/2008 5:44 pm

Blogger SKG said...

hahaha excellent stuff!

3/03/2008 8:36 pm


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