The January transfer window and lack of goal threat – Our Newcastle United writers take a look at issues on the horizon for Steve Bruce
Can United strenghten and should they strengthen? That's the conversation starter for this week's Toon Trending Topic, with goals (or a lack of) the main concern.
Here our writers Liam Kennedy and Jordan Cronin give their thoughts on the subject…
What areas do Newcastle United need to strengthen in January?
LK: "Everyone seems to be talking about the need to add a striker - you could literally have both Ronaldos (old and new) up top and they wouldn't score as Newcastle United are never far enough forward to create chances. It is the areas around that where the need to strengthen is most pressing. There is not enough end product from Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron. Playing Matt Ritchie further up could help. A Mo Diame replacement would not go amiss, too."
JC: "It has become apparent very early on that Steve Bruce’s side lack goals. Miguel Almiron doesn’t look like scoring. Joelinton, at the present moment, isn’t cutting it and Allan Saint-Maximin can’t do it all by himself. The back-up options don’t bring much hope either. Having Andy Carroll back is fantastic but, and this is no fault of his own, he isn’t going to score you 15+ goals this season. Neither is the rest."
What players do you think Steve Bruce may look to move on?
LK: "Apart from the obvious - Jack Colback et al - Bruce will look to free up a space or two in the squad, should he wish to strengthen in the winter window. For me, Federico Fernandez is one who could leave, Javier Manquillo another. Ki is not fancied at all by Bruce and Yoshinori Muto doesn't even make the squads."
JC: "With Joelinton, Carroll, Dwight Gayle and Yoshinori Muto on the books, there is no doubt Bruce will have move out a striker out before bringing someone in. Championship clubs are circling around Gayle, so he is the most likely to leave, should things continue the way they are. You then look at Federico Fernandez, he has been linked with a Rafa Benitez reunion. Maybe Ki Sung-yueng could depart - he hasn’t been getting a look in. You’ve then got the likes of Jack Colback and Henri Saviet."
What have you made of Newcastle's summer transfer business?
LK: "The club did not add anywhere near enough Premier League experience - but there's nothing new there. They needed a central midfielder and didn't get one, they also needed to replace the goals, graft and pressing of Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez. The players signed in the summer would never have come in under Benitez, but I'm sure he'd be getting a better tune out of them now than Bruce."
JC: "Very underwhelming, which is how I felt when the summer window slammed shut. I still think there is a player in Joelinton but it was always a question of how quickly will he adapt… not very. Emil Krafth looks miles off the pace but like Joelinton, it’s only fair people give him time to adapt. Saint-Maximin endured an injury-hit start, thankfully he is beginning to look an exciting signing but Jetro Willems, on a consistent basis, has been the only plus. "
What markets do you think Newcastle United will shop in come January?
LK: "United have two domestic loan slots and an unlimited amount from the continent available to them. So, no matter the budget, business can be done, if the club are willing. I'd expect they will sign players, maybe two, at least one. I'd think it more likely from the continent than the UK."
JC: "Personally, I can’t see Newcastle shopping for any current Premier League players but perhaps they might delve into the Championship for someone like a Jarrod Bowen, who will only have six months left on his contract. Be prepared for the Josef Martinez links too! ASM, Joelinton, Krath and Willems were signed from Germany and France, respectively, so perhaps that could give us an indication of where United’s future business lies."
And is January the right month for major surgery on the squad, or is it a case of plugging gaps until the summer?
LK: "It's not ideal, of course, but I do not buy into this idea it is impossible to do deals in the month. Plenty of managers who've gone for the wheel and deal approach in the window and come out of the end of the season still in the top flight. It is not a perfect time but if you do your homeowrk and recruit the right type of player and character then it can also be a cheap window to add - just see Martin Dubravka for evidence."
JC: "It is NOT the right month but if Newcastle are in trouble come January, then desperate times calls for desperate measures. We saw in January 2013 and 2016 that Mike Ashley will try to spend his way out of trouble, however the one thing that worries me this time around is Newcastle do have quite a big squad. There is pressure to offload before buying. In a four-week window, that could prove very, very difficult."