Growing pains at Newcastle – Time to change our 2023/24 expectations?

All summer, I was expecting growing pains to be the theme of the 2023/24 season. We have a squad of inexperienced players at the top level and the strength in depth isn’t there. Last season, we were lucky with injuries and managed to keep the majority of the squad fit for large periods. It did feel like we were always missing a player or two, but we never suffered a total injury crisis.

That was always unlikely to be the case this season with the additional matches that come with the Champions League. It hasn’t helped us that we have drawn PSG, Borussia Dortmund, AC Milan, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea in cup competitions. We have played more ‘big’ matches than any other team in the Premier League and that comes at a cost.

Our style of play is already one of the most intense in the league and it is impossible to deliver it to a high standard every three days without rotation. At the beginning of the season, Eddie Howe was able to do that. Alexander Isak and Callum Wilson rotated. Harvey Barnes and Jacob Murphy both came in for matches. It wasn’t perfect, but the manager could change his line-up.

Now, that is impossible. The club are down to just 14 fit senior outfield players and a few of those (Ritchie, Krafth, Dummett) will not have been pencilled in for regular playing time this season. Lewis Miley is going to be fast-tracked into a more senior role, which could do more harm than good in the short term. Meanwhile, Lewis Hall and Tino Livramento will need to be used in different positions throughout the next six weeks to help cover for others who are absent.

The defeat to Bournemouth was spoken about as an unrecognisable performance. This might become a trend over the coming weeks, as we will be playing with a threadbare squad and the number of minutes each player needs to play will reduce their own output. It is difficult for those that are fit to deliver a high level of performance every few days.

There was criticism of the…

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Author : Jake Jackman

Publish date : 2023-11-16 07:17:04

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