Position By Position Preview: Central Midfielder

Matthew Lewis

In the Alan Pardew Era, Newcastle United have stockpiled central midfielders, so there are plenty to choose from.

The summer transfer window has seen the departure of Mehdi Abeid to Panathinaikos, the protracted yet inevitable departure of former Wor Jackie youth player or the year Bradden Inman to Crewe Alexandria (Inman is out of contract, but due to his age, Newcastle are due compensation if a club sign him. Alex have made 4 bids to settle this requirement, the last of which has seemingly not been reacted to by Bedo Fif. If Newcastle reject the latest offer, the matter can go through an arbitration process or the interested club can well... drop their interest) and the very near departure of Dan Gosling to Crystal Palace. Though the names will have changed slightly here, the preview of the position will read in a rather familiar fashion.

Yohan Cabaye

Constantly the object of media speculation because it's easy, it seems unlikely that any of the rumors will come through prior to the closing of the summer transfer window. The larger question surrounding Cabaye will be whether Alan Pardew will find a formation / tactic / way to use him that will allow him to scale the heights of form that he did in the 11/12 season as opposed to the shadow of what we know he can be that we saw in the 12/13 season. For large sections of the 12/13 season, Alan Pardew played a 4-2-3-1 formation with Cabaye next to Tiote just ahead of the defense. It did not seem to suit him.

Surely his game suffered at the lack of form from his team mates (or vice versa), but at his very best, he can unlock Premier League defenses with deceptive ease. If he even takes half a step back towards his 2011/12 form, a top half finish would be much much more likely. And because it really is the Best Pass In The History Of Ever™, watch this:


Moussa Sissoko

Moussa is the new name in the CM equation compared to the opening of the 12/13 season. The January purchase announced his presence in the Premier League with a debut brace against Chelsea as well as beating Ashley Cole in a 3/4 pitch sprint for a loose ball. These two things stuck in Alan Pardew's head and so of course it is clear that Moussa is a natural number 10 / winger. As the good feeling from the January injection wore off, however, Moussa showed more and more to not, in fact, be a natural number 10 player. He would likely benefit from a shift back the pitch somewhat... beside Cheik Tiote, for instance, if we must persist in the 4-2-3-1, pushing Yohan Cabaye a little up the pitch (probably not in a natural 10 either, but closer than he was asked to do last year). Moussa is not a second string player by any means... it's more of a 1 / 1A situation that you'd hope Pardew can figure a way to play them both in positions in which they can succeed.

Vurnon Anita

As mentioned in the CDM preview, Vurnon Anita was viewed by most (including the club, you might think) as an eventual replacement for Cheik Tiote if and when he eventually moves on. It became clear that Anita is not exactly equipped to be a successful holding midfielder in the Premier League, however... but by the same token, he exhibited enough vision and skill that he should really be considered in this particular discussion as well. Frankly, the world sees fit to shock me and exhibit to me my lack of knowing of things and sell Yohan Cabaye, Anita is one of the reasons I feel we would be able to survive. He is quick, has good vision and can pick a pass in the attack. If given an extended chance, he would certainly convert many doubters into believers.

Dan Gosling

Newcastle United made a lot of people mad when we poached Gosling from Everton through a strange contract issue. Like really mad. Since then, he has struggled with injury and been sat on the bench behind the likes of Danny Guthrie, leading up to his bizarre move/non-move to Crystal Palace this summer. Whatever happened in that failed move, what is undeniable is that he has returned to Tyneside en fuego as we cool cats used to say in the 90s. He has scored and scored and scored this pre-season, in closed-door friendlies and for the Reserves and made a very strong case to get first team consideration. While he may not get quite as much of that as he might like, you have to think that he's made enough of a statement that he'll see extended time in any cup run that we might manage - and enough so that Alan Pardew will probably think twice about risking Cabaye and/or Sissoko even in later stages of those competitions.

Romain Amalfitano

Romain was my #2 standout performer from last year's preseason. Alan Pardew has not exhibited any desire to play him since that time, however... and for some reason, we persist in paying him.

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