Gary Neville has blasted the contribution of Newcastle United’s midfielders – and says Steve McClaren must get his side taking more risks.
The Magpies made it four Premier League games in a row without a goal as they slumped to the bottom of the Premier League after a 2-0 defeat against West Ham.
England coach Neville was analysing the game for Sky Sports, and was scathing about the lack of creativity from the midfield.
And he also criticised the defensive contribution of the United midfield, particularly the central trio of Vurnon Anita, Jack Colback and Georginio Wijnaldum.
“You could point at any part of that team, the defence have been counter attacked which isn’t great,” Neville said. But I look at it at the moment and think those three central midfield players.
“You’ve got central midfielders who don’t defend counter attacks and don’t set up goals. It’s not great. It’s what they’re there to do – if they’re defensive midfield players, stop counter attacks. Stop goals, stop being counter attacked on. They don’t and if they’re not doing that job...
“They’re not passing it forward, they’re not keeping possession more than other teams. They’re not getting into the box, they’re not arriving into the box, they’re not providing service into the box for the strikers.”
Papiss Cisse’s contribution came in for criticism from fans, but Neville says that the striker didn’t get more support, with right-back Daryl Janmaat Newcastle’s main attacking threat against West Ham.
And he believes Toon head coach McClaren – who he worked with at Manchester United and England – must start taking more risks.
“I’m not saying the front three have covered themselves in glory but they need support, they need delivery,” he added.
“You can almost point to the top of the pitch and say: ‘They’re not scoring goals’ but where’s the risk taking? Janmaat is the only one that runs past people. No one does from central midfield, they don’t take enough risks, they don’t get enough players in the box. Cisse – I don’t know how many times he touched it in the box but not that many. 30 odd or something like that.
“To me he needs to get them taking more risks. Then you’ve got that balance of playing away from home against decent opposition.”