Newcastle

Do Newcastle really need a striker in January?
15th December 2015

Newcastle United’s form might be improving drastically as we head towards the New Year, but January means transfers – or rumours at least – and transfers mean centre-forwards.

Every window brings talk of new front men to Tyneside, but the attackers already on United’s roster have expertly timed a reminder of their own capabilities.

Siem de Jong is back, Papiss Cisse too, while Aleksandar Mitrovic and Ayoze Perez both marked the score-sheet on Sunday. Even beyond these talents, Adam Armstrong continues to impress on loan at Coventry City.

Newcastle do not need a Charlie Austin, or a Saido Berahino, or a Michy Batshuayi.

All three – loosely linked to the Magpies on occasion – would undoubtedly offer a goal threat and boost Steve McClaren’s squad, but there is already enough debate over the starting spots for Saturday’s crunch encounter with relegation rivals Aston Villa.

Each of De Jong, Cisse, Mitrovic and Perez possess unique skills, be it experience, movement, power or pace. Armstrong, also, is an excellent finisher.

13 December 2015 Premier League Football - Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United; Aleksandar Mitrovic scores for United (1-1) Photo: Mark Leech.

Mitrovic got a goal and an assist after coming on as a substitute on Sunday.

United have looked better for De Jong’s involvement, but his contributions have been fairly ordinary thus far. Though strike partner Cisse netted at Crystal Palace and worked hard against Liverpool, the pair were overshadowed by their younger teammates in the late win at Tottenham Hotspur.

Now, surely, Mitrovic and Perez are favourites to figure from the off against the Villans, but either way McClaren has options in forward areas that previous Newcastle managers haven’t.

Graeme Souness inherited a quartet of Alan Shearer, Craig Bellamy, Patrick Kluivert and Shola Ameobi from Sir Bobby Robson – better players in better times – but the choice has been limited in recent years.

While De Jong and Cisse might not fire every week, and the same goes for Mitrovic and Perez, at least McClaren can mix it up. Given frailties in other areas, there is no reason for Newcastle to be looking at centre-forwards yet again this winter.

With confidence high, one of the four will surely fire, and any issues could easily be attributed to the supply line rather than those tasked with hitting the net.

For once, let’s shift the focus from the likes of Mitrovic – though goals will grab the headlines – and hopefully money will be spent to upgrade the team behind him and his colleagues.

There need be no hunt for the next Shearer this season, but a Gary Speed wouldn’t go amiss.

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