Are Newcastle going through a midfield revolution?

Posted on November 4th, 2010 | 58 Comments |

Newcastle's new-look midfield?
Newcastle's new-look midfield?
I’ve had this thought for sometime but I’ve never written about it for one reason or another, but I think that now is a good time to change that, hence the article.

Anyway, over the summer we added to our ranks with no less than five players, and two of them were central midfield players. As a result, when they are all fit, we have enough central midfield players in our squad to sill two teams. Great for competition, right?

Well it will be good for competition this season, but what about next season, and the season after that? You see, I have a different train of thought regarding the state of our midfield, and it appears that it is a thought that is shared with quite a few ‘bloggers on here. To illustrate my point, I’m going to take you back, way back, to when we were a club that paid silly wages.

Now a lot of this is going to contain figures that are hearsay or speculation, but they will be the most commonly speculated about figures. Like when we signed Alan Smith on a wage that was reported to be around £60,000 a week for example, and Joey Barton on an amount that is supposed to be roughly the same.

We are all aware that we used to pay high wages to players, higher than any club in a comparable league position to ourselves. This didn’t work and we managed the rather ridiculous and shameful achievement of getting relegated from the Premier League with the 3rd highest wagebill in the entire league.

Not any more, or so it seems. Right now I believe that the club are trying to sort out the finances. Relegation purged us of a lot of high-earners, but our wagebill is still estimated to stand at around £50m-a-year. I believe that the club are making an effort to bring this down further, but I also believe that they are building for the future at the same time.

To illustrate that, all you have to do is have a look at our potential midfield (as pictured). A midfield of Danny Guthrie, Dan Gosling, Cheick Tiote and Hatem Ben Arfa could potentially be our midfield for at least the next five years. All of them are 24 or under and all of them can do a job for us.

Would anyone argue with me when I say that Tiote is a better player than Alan Smith? Probably not. I’m not saying that Smith has done anything wrong, just that Tiote is simply the better midfielder. How about Hatem Ben Arfa? Would anyone play Jonas Gutierrez ahead of him? That one is more of a close call if I’m being honest.

Let’s take a look at the old and midfield line-up’s to show the difference in age between the two midfields:

‘Old’ midfield.
Alan Smith (30), Joey Barton (28), Kevin Nolan (28), Jonas Gutierrez (27) – Average age = 28.25.

‘New’ midfield.
Danny Guthrie (23), Dan Gosling (20), Cheick Tiote (24), Hatem Ben Arfa (23) – Average age = 22.5.

Despite our new midfield being considerably younger, can you honestly say that they are considerably worse? I can’t.

Now to make the financial point we need to have a look at the wages these players are on. Now a lot of these are speculated figures so they won’t be spot on, but as I said earlier I will only use the most commonly speculated figures.

‘Old’ midfield.
Alan Smith (£60,000), Joey Barton (£60,000), Kevin Nolan (£40,000), Jonas Gutierrez (£40,000).

Weekly wage combined = £200,000 per week.
Annual wage combined = £10.4 million.

‘New’ midfield.
Danny Guthrie (£10,000), Dan Gosling (£25,000), Cheick Tiote (£35,000) Hatem Ben Arfa (£50,000).

Weekly wage combined = £120,000 per week.
Annual wage combined = £6.24 million.

Now as I said, these are only rough calculations, but they do kind of illustrate my point. We already have the next midfield waiting in the wings ready to take over. Of course, we have to sign Hatem Ben Arfa first, but given what the player has said recently, and what the club have said it would appear to be just a formality, hopefully.

I also very much doubt that our entire midifeld will be switched around in one hit. What we may see is players leaving slowly, or being offered a lower wage to reflect their age and so on.

It’s certainly food for thought anyway.

NUFCBlog Author: toonsy toonsy has written 643 articles on this blog.

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58 Responses

  1. toonsy,
    Good article mate, the big decision’s will be in the summer of 2012. What does MA do with Barton,Collo,Jonas and Jose who are on huge wages and will be at the end of their contracts.

  2. TGS – They will both be 30 in 2013 mate, so I epxpect they will get offered a lower wage, but maybe with a higher bonus or something? Who knows though eh?

  3. Good article and point well made.
    I put my hands up and admit I was wrong in thinking that if you don’t pay big wages to attract players to the north east then you end up with second rate players. However the new players coming in are better and younger and more hungry.
    I know most fans thought the same as me but how many are big enough to admit it.?

  4. another thing about our midfield, as anyone who has watched us for the past few season will agree, it is here where our problems lie. However this seems now to be being addressed.
    With Butt, Smith, Nolan and Guthrie on the wing (I just got a shudder) we were slow, immobile and lacking in creativity.
    We are a completly different midfield now thanks to a couple of additions and the return to form of joey barton.
    I’ve said it before, and i’ll say it again, when Joey barton plays well, we play well, watch out for that.

  5. AUSSIE – Look at my last article aswell, the combined pic of Taylor and Williamson.

    Why anyone would think that perhaps I have just learned how to do it ;) :lol:

  6. BS I admit it-I much prefer us fishing for lesser known talent now or players that have a point to prove.
    The overpaid players that sent us down where a disgrace they didn’t give a stuff about NUFC.

  7. The club has sold 2900 tickets for the Bolton match, they all sold out to season ticket holders and never made it to membership sale at all, bigger ticket allocations needed, especially against these clubs with half empty stadiums, I’ve already bought my train ticket so I’m still gonna go to Bolton and go in the wrong end (not in toonsy’s sense of going in the wrong end btw)

  8. Fair play Bobby Shinton number 9
    You have actually said a key words for me, hunger. Gone now are the mercinaries and all the players we try to attract/go for are young, hungry and want to play for the club. Furthermore, but just as important, they want to win for each other, as a team!

    Not notice, take Nolan’s first goal against the makems, everyone abolutly swamped him, PILE ON!!!!!!! Even the foreign las were right in the middle.

    It’s great to see after the past few years of individuals in a black and white strip that we now actually have a TEAM!

  9. Toonsy,.
    The wage argument though doesn’t stack up, the older midfield quartet are paid more because they are older established premier league players. That’s life.
    Do we really beleive after 2 successful seasons in the league, Guthrie, gosling and tiote won’t be angling for a better contract?
    This is what happens, players prooce themselves as they get older and want a pay rise.. Like anyone else.
    That’s why we have the issues with s Taylor contract,. Who obviously wants parity with colo, and his other peers in the league.
    Realisically we can’t compete long term unless we pay competitive wages,. Otherwise I fear we will continue selling our best young players everytime their first contract is up for renewal.

  10. Bravenewtoon – But if these younger playes have earned a payrise through their performances the fair enough, but money will still be saved in the meantime whist the younger lads earn the new deals.

    What the club aren’t doing is going out and paying top wage immediately like they did with Alan Smith, Joey Barton etc….

    And Taylor can have parity with Colo if he wishes, which would be £35,000 a week ;)

  11. Spot on, toonsy.

    Also the reason why Saylor doesn’t deserve as much as him and/or his agent are reputedly asking for.

  12. Oi oi yi daft little dafties!!
    Ave been up aal neet wi big Mick, Dekka and Rod Stewart!! Pure class! A couldn’t believe it when Rod turned up at Big Mick’s ken.
    A didn’t kna he was only 5ft 2 or summit like that. Dekka was cracking dwarf jokes aal neet man!
    Deed funny craic Dekka like! Hoo man he was off his box on phet and started dein impressions of Rod singing do you think am sexy?
    Big Mick honestly shat his pants wi laffin so much! Pure mental man!
    Anyways, a had to leave like when Lorraine Kelly turned up after she finished GMTV ! A kna Big Mick is knockin her off behind me ma’s back!
    Oi oi radgies! Gotta to gan, bizzies are at the door!
    Laters gaters!

  13. Great article Toonsy, that midfield 4 for the future would be brilliant and you could also throw young Haris Vuckic in there as well who is only 18. I also think in the summer if we stay up (which i think we will) we will have a mini clear out with R.Taylor, Smith, Lovenkrands, Best & Xisco all leaving, at a estimate that would bring in about 6m and free up around 150k a week wages..

  14. Daan – …… which would pay for Benny, plus if what was said to your mate in the casino is true (which also matches what Llambias said some time back), then we will have a igger bidget to spend on improving the squad fiurther next season by replacing thos players with better ones.

  15. Great article toonsy by the way!

    Dan i would agree with those 4 players leaving either in jan or next summer. I dont think Smith has done anything wrong had would have no problem with him starting games between now n end of season but foe the evolution of the team / squad i think its time for him to go soon enough. Plus his wages massive for a bench warmer!

  16. Toonsy, aslong as we get Ben Arfa on a permanent i’ll be happy :D but yeah it would pay for him, if it is true what i got told too and we do splash the cash a little then i can see most of it being used on a strike partner for Carroll although i can see Hughton doing alot of research before buying one and maybe not getting one in until late in the summer and go into next season with a strike force of; Carroll ??? Ameobi Ranger with the youngsters moving up like Airey..

  17. Johno Toon, yeah i agree, although if it was up to me i’d get rid of Perch and keep R.Taylor but he doesn’t seem to be getting a look in even on the bench anymore so it looks like he will be going.

  18. Whoever it is, its a bit sad.

    He’s probably on a Justin Beiber forum now pretending to be a 10 year old girl.

  19. I think we may see Routledge leave at some stage prior to his contract running out. He clearly has a problem beating the FB in the EPL,unlike his performances in the CCC.

  20. batty – I think Cropper has multiple-personality disorder.

    He’s definitle fcuked in the heed anyway because he seems intent on starting an internet bromance with me. :lol:

    Not gonna happen, Roy. Never. Ever.

  21. TGS – i think the same mate and i know it’s pointless trying to second guess who will buy but i would love to think if Wolves go down or maybe even if they don’t we would but in a cash + Routledge offer for Matt Jarvis who i think would be great to compliment Ben Arfa and Jonas :-)

  22. Daan4tooN,

    I think that we will see a large overhaul of players over the next 2 seasons, that is providing we remain in the EPL.
    The blueprint does appear to be working at last, I’ve said it now…… ;)

  23. I dunno bout perch , like something he looks quite promising others quite shocking! But he aint here that long so im not going to rule him out just yet.

    Raylor on the other hand all i can see wat he really offers the team is his free kicks. Now if we could just take him on n off for free kicks then great :)

  24. TGS – haha aye with Newcastle your just waiting for something to happen. Also yeah in the next few year i think we should be basing our team around; Krul/Forster, Coloccini, Enrique, Ben Arfa, Tiote, Carroll. :D

  25. Johno Toon – Or we could get rid of both and have a good Rb for competition for Simpson ;-)

  26. TC :lol: yeah every 1 used too think u were him , but i knew diffrent wen u got me banned of judases for no reason :)

  27. toonsy – good article

    The midfield looks very promising and its been a while since we could look forward with a bit of hope and optimism … :)

  28. The midfield looks very promising and its been a while since we could look forward with a bit of hope and optimism … :)

    I wasn’t including the famous events of Sunday in that comment :) :)

  29. toonsy says:
    November 4, 2010 at 10:07 am

    “Why anyone would think that perhaps I have just learned how to do it”

    Now you should learn how to blur them into each other at the edges, or give then a little border, or even both like the banner at the top. ;-)

  30. Doing a bit of reserach for my next article, which is basically going to be laughing at the pain of the mackems, and I cam across this, which made me blow snotters :lol:

    Image Hosted by

  31. “I’m not one for leaving games early, but when you see Kevin Nolan dancing around like a chicken and your five nil down you know it’s time to leave”

    :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

  32. Woo hoo hoo hoo!
    Oi oi Batty !!
    Just got oot of Durham pokey!
    You’re a legend in there man! Was it Stoke nick you were in?
    Bet you’re glad they had segregation in them days eh?
    Here yi daft little doylems! Stardust is still in takeover talks wi Big Mick like. A divvent think Big Mick wants to sell noo like after the Sunderland game. He said to me, “HOO TROY, A DIVVENT WANT TO SELL NOO LIKE AFTER THE SUNDERLAND GAME, PURE MAGIC FEELING THAT LIKE!”
    A kna it meant alot to him like cos he put his spliff oot and took a line of toot and just went into a pure radge charva dance! Pure mint moves! He always does that when he’s happy like!
    Anyways, aal keep ye’s aal up to date aboot owt ye’s want. Ye kna that divvent yi’s!?
    Toon Toon!

  33. I think clearly we still need new set of wingers,and striker.

    Today i have a sudden train of thought on the issue of Xisco.

    CH clearly doesn’t want Xisco to be in the club,and wish to sell him off.

    But here’s the deal,How could u be able to sell Xisco,if he isn’t playing at all??I don’t see any clubs willing to buy Him if he isn’t playing.

    And His contracts runs out like in 2013? So the club willing to keep paying him without him playing? 8O

  34. For me, the most important addition to our squad and the one who will mean the most in our future is Tiote… For years we have had what both the media and fans described as a “bad defense” but the truth is that our defenders never had much protection. These days we defend from the front and everyone in the team puts in a job, but none more important than Tiote. The central midfield is arguably the most important position on the pitch for an outfield player. It is there your attacks get started and its here you want to keep the opositions attacks from getting started… Tiote does just that, and to great effect, and he is a player who could become instrumental to any future success we might hope for.

  35. Speaking about Tiote, he answered some questions posted in by fans through emails. Pretty insightful, :lol:

    This particular question caught my attention,

    Hey, I’m all for finding talent such as yourself, and would like to look in your homeland. Who can you recommend from your native country?
    Mark Lowes

    I have two names. The first is Gervinho, who plays for Lille as a forward or winger. He is really good, 23 years old and a great player. The other is Seydou Doumbia of CSKA Moscow. He’s a striker and he’s a great prospect.

    Personally, Gervinho is a player that I would love to see in black and white.