It is great when things are guaranteed. It’s nice not having to worry. Newcastle United are not in that position.
I’m worried at this point about the Magpies’ chances to stay in the Premier League. At this point, if it happens, it will be almost solely on the back of Rafa Benitez’s tactical genius. There is talent within the squad. Center back is proving to be pretty deep with Jamaal Lascelles and Chancel Mbemba stepping up when injuries hit in the season opener, but this is not a team built for long term success in the Premier League at the moment.
On paper, this Newcastle group has a couple of inconsistent strikers at the Premier League level, a paper thin lineup at fullback and half of a talented midfield. Isaac Hayden is growing into his role nicely and Christian Atsu seems poised for success with the club. Jonjo Shelvey is a massive talent when he can stay on the pitch. Ayoze Perez is not a true attacking midfielder and Matt Ritchie, as polished as he is, lacks the speed to make a difference on the wing.
Newcastle has only played one match and already it is down two defenders and its top midfielder. Should that be the expectation going forward for every match? Of course not. But the Tottenham match was a microcosm of how long and grueling a season is in the English top flight. Players will get hurt, mistakes will be made that cost the team points or lead to suspensions. The club is facing that all much sooner than expected, but the way this squad is currently constructed, it is not built to survive the year.
Heading into the next match, the starting back line will likely be Javier Manquillo, Ciaran Clark, Lascelles and Mbemba. Bench options for Benitez offer little reassurance with Grant Hanley, Massadio Haidara and Jesus Gamez. In midfield, Hayden will likely start next to Mikel Merino, who made his first Premier League appearance against Spurs, with the potential to replace them with either Mo Diame or Jack Colback.
These players who are set to fill in have been told they have no place in the team or are not high enough caliber options for the Premier League. This is currently what Benitez has to work with if he needs to turn to his bench against Huddersfield and potentially beyond that.
No one is expecting Mike Ashley to spend £200 million this season, but if Newcastle are serious about staying up or want to avoid a relegation fight, some transfers are needed. The team does not need an overhaul, but another central midfielder to spell Shelvey and a true number 10 would suddenly have the Toon built for an extended stay.
The window slams shut in two weeks. This team will be facing relegation come January if nothing is done now.
Like I said, nothing is guaranteed, but it never hurts to stack the deck.