Newcastle United have signed two players already in the January window. Neither of these players addressed either of what were widely regarded as the pressing needs by many of the Toon Army heading into the transfer window. With the club hemorrhaging goals at the back and not scoring goals at the front, you would have been forgiven for thinking any potential signing would be a player across either of those lines. The fact that both players are slated to play in the middle of the park tells us a lot about where Steve McClaren feels this club is.
In the not too distant past, we had a guest writer here on CHN tell us how Jack Colback was failing Steve McClaren and Newcastle United in the middle of the park. The arrivals of Henry Saivet (who was contacted by McClaren before his signing and informed that he was wanted to play in holding midfield) and Jonjo Shelvey (a long-term target of McClaren's - such as that can be) tell us that the club and it's head coach believe that shoring up what has been a weak spot in the Newcastle setup – with all due respect to Vurnon Anita, Cheik Tiote and Jack Colback – will lend strength to the rest of the lineup and it kind of makes sense... if you're happy playing central midfielders as wingers ad infinitum.
In all seriousness, it does follow to a certain degree. Although he turned in what would have to be considered a "throwback" type of performance, Cheik Tiote has come out on the losing side of his fitness battles and the battle against time more often than not. A younger, more technically adept holding midfield could only serve to help a defensive line that is the second-worst in the Premier League and help the possession-oriented style that McClaren is so desperate to install. Add in Jonjo Shelvey who is being brought in to provide the through-the-middle service that Colback/Anita have been unable to provide, it certainly seems to (in theory) flesh out some of the more deficient areas of the Newcastle attack.
Perhaps it is the good-performance-glow still shining from what was a good result against a Manchester United side which is still a top of the table side despite all the hand wringing. Perhaps it's a little bit steeped in truth. It could be that we've needed an upgrade at the holding midfield position for several years and that has finally come. It could also be that I'm deluding myself yet again and trusting that the club have brought in the players that will finally haul us away from our seemingly perpetual perch in and around the relegation zone. Whatever it means overall, the short term message is clear. The club don't feel that we're that far from providing a better product on the pitch. Time will tell, but what we do know is that we could still really use another striking option and some competition for Daryl at the very least.