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Will January Bring A Return To The 4-3-3?

The January transfer window will undoubtedly see activity involving Newcastle United. Do the strongest rumors indicate a return to a 4-3-3?

Mike Hewitt

Demba Ba and his release clause* are the words on many Toon supporters' lips these days with the Senegalese having stated in a recent interview that Arsenal "makes you dream". You may recall that Demba specifically reacted to rumors of a transfer to Paris Saint-Germain last year as well saying that he would love to turn out for PSG at some point in his career... although last year he followed it up with an assertion that he would not be leaving in January; that piece of reassurance is missing with this year's "come get me" to Arsenal. In the support of Newcastle these days, you can be assured of one thing: every player will leave. In fact, in most of sport, an extended run of many years at a club or team is the exception, not the rule. It will be no surprise if Demba goes.

*I have meant to sit down and put my thoughts about the "release clause" and its existence or non-existence , but have yet to do so. Maybe today is the day. I was going to drop the bullet-point version of my thoughts here, but they're going to get me waaaaay off the point of this particular piece.

A name is emerging in connection with the Toon that (paired with a Demba Ba departure) would strongly indicate a commitment to the 4-3-3 by the club. Linked with Newcastle United over the summer, it is being reported that there is mutual interest between the club and French international Loic Remy. Remy is capable of playing a central forward role but coupled with a hope that reverting to the formation that was so kind to Papiss Cisse in the second half of last season it seems more likely that if he does indeed come to Newcastle it will be as a left wing.

Let that potential front line in a 4-3-3 soak in for a moment (for visualizations' sake, this will read left-to-right):

Loic Remy - Papiss Cisse - Hatem Ben Arfa

Never mind that this doesn't at all address the back-line problems of quality and depth, it would be a very Newcastle acquisition. And it could be really tasty.

The departure of Demba Ba coupled with a potential loss of Shola Ameobi to the ACoN would leave us very very short of striking options, so if this is going to happen, you would hope that it is tied up very early in the transfer window. Banking on the health of any player this season is a fool's bet and counting on a return to goal scoring form for Papiss Cisse is slightly safer, but bringing in a player that could be an out and out striker, a left winger or even a second striker in a 4-4-1-1 just makes good sense and is enough to get me a little bit excited about the second half of the season... IF Mike Ashley will pay the piper (or more to the point Marseilles).