We started a positional review of Newcastle United's season earlier this week with a look at the goalkeeping position. It was fun and everything, but we're going to switch things up a little bit. No, we're not going to review a different team that was maybe more fun to watch last season. We are going to review each player individually in round table format. This should be fun. We are moving into the strength of the squad today... the defense. First up today is The Once (And Future?) Ginger Pirlo.
A preface by Brian: A few words of note before getting into the players. First, any defender on this squad was done a disservice with McClaren at the helm. Second, it could be argued everyone but Taylor and Colo should be retained is possible simply to see if Rafa can get more out of them.
Logan: Goodness me, this one is unfortunate to have to tackle. Part of the reason he was so bad (at least as far as I'm concerned) is because he's so much better than what he provided this campaign. What stood out to me was how lost he looked at multiple points throughout the year. Despite all the time he missed due to injury, he still was the sole leader of the top yellow card-getting spot in the Premier League with 11. That’s simply a sign of lazy defense. And due to him being a local boy and being easily likable, it’s easy to overlook his, well, abysmal, season. Let’s not dress it up and take it out to dinner, he was not what he needed to be this season when he was on the pitch.
Brian: Colback fouls a lot, but he also gets a lot of fouls. One cannot question his work ethic, and shockingly he paired nicely with Tiote during the relegation fight. At times he can be outclassed by more technical opponents, but he is the hardest working player on the pitch with the exception of Townsend. The thought was Shelvey might be his replacement, but I saw nothing in Jonjo on a consistent basis that would convince that is truth. Jack wants to be a Geordie. To me he's more of a holding midfielder than an attacking one as evident by his lack of goals or quality in finishing his limited shots. Still I see him, like Anita, as a reliable option in a starting rotation.
Eric: Jack Colback blamed beach balls for our loss to Aston Villa. Little else really needs to be said, but in the interest of full coverage, I’ll continue. When he signed from Sunderland, I was excited about the long-term prospects for Colback in the Black and White. Last year he proved to be a decent signing but this year was a major step backwards for Jack with only 22 appearances to his name. Lacking the strength to be a truly dominant defensive midfielder, Colback all too often looked off the pace of the game opting for rash challenges in place of any tactical awareness over the course of the year. 11 yellow cards equated to one every two games for Colback and is perhaps the biggest indicator of how often he is slow to react to the game around him.
Will: Jack played with his heart on his sleeve for most of the games last season, but his lack of defense and an inability to play in killer through-balls when he had the chance often left fans groaning in frustration. Hopefully a stint in the championship will allow the midfielder to regain his passing ability and confidence.
Jim: You will have a hard time convincing me that bringing Jack Colback to Newcastle United was much other than a failed, ill-calculated PR move. His contributions from the midfield role were pedestrian at best. His best performances were probably when he was filling in for injured Paul Dummett and Sadio Haïdara at left back which is sad in light of the preponderance of his time being spent in the midfield (his supposed position.) In 2015-16, it's easy to agree with Will. Jack couldn't pass, couldn't defend... overall, he was a non-Premier League CM playing one on television.
Composite grade: 1.5/4.0 (Or a C - - / D + +)