The ups and downs of investing in Newcastle

While Newcastle’s opening fixtures are excellent, there’s been little talk about them on the site. It got me wondering why, so I’ve explored the options within the Toon Army ranks, and the possible pitfalls that lie in wait.

A trip to Man City on the opening day aside, Newcastle’s next 4 matches are home to West Ham, Fulham and Hull, and away to Aston Villa. Their squad should be a serious consideration for Fantasy managers, so let’s go through their side to see what’s on offer.

Defensively, Newcastle’s 6 clean sheets last season give us as much confidence as hoping England win in a penalty shoot out. But they returned 15 clean sheets in 2011/12, so that does give us some hope at least.

Tim Krul (5.0) is still recovering from his shoulder injury, but is expected to be fit to start the season in goal.

Fabricio Coloccini (5.0) and Mathieu Debuchy (5.0) are nailed on at centre-back and right-back respectively. Debuchy’s attacking forays down the flank should bring decent attacking potential.

Davide Santon (5.0), Massadio Haidara (4.5) and Paul Dummett are competing for the left-back slot, while Steven Taylor (4.5) is battling with Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa (4.5) to partner Coloccini in the centre. Alan Pardew recently talked up Yanga-Mbiwa’s prospects so he looks in pole position for the role.

Dummett is of particular interest. He isn’t even listed in FPL at the moment, but a price of 4.0 is likely should he be added.

Speaking after Newcastle’s 4-2 friendly win over Motherwell, where Dummett assisted Sylvain Marveaux’s goal, Pardew raved about Dummett’s potential.

“He is now knocking on the door, seriously, and I don’t say that lightly because the Premier League is a big jump. But he was fantastic and couldn’t have done more. He’s an Academy lad and there’s nothing better than producing your own. Massadio (Haidara) and Davide Santon suddenly have a bit of competition. He’s right on their tail.”

Santon is surely favourite to retain the left-back slot, but it’s worth keeping an eye on Dummett, given Pardew’s concerns over Santon’s defensive displays last season.

Further up the pitch, you would fancy Hatem Ben Arfa (7.0) against that opening run of opponents, while Yohan Cabaye (6.5) and Moussa Sissoko (6.0) are alternatives in midfield.

Sissoko has expressed a desire to continue in the role behind the striker, but did feature in the double-pivot against Motherwell. It’s likely that he will continue in an offensive role, though, with Cabaye and Cheick Tioté sitting in front of the back 4.

Cabaye will definitely feature in the double-pivot of Newcastle’s 4-2-3-1, but his wonderful free-kicks and set piece delivery offer up attacking returns.

Up front we begin to touch upon some of the reasons why Fantasy managers are perhaps nervous of investing in Newcastle. There is disharmony in the camp.

Papiss Cisse (8.5) is in dispute with the club after refusing to wear the new Wonga-branded shirt on religious grounds, and has pulled out of Newcastle’s training camp in Portugal. Relations with Newcastle are strained and his future is now in doubt.

It’s a shame. A fit and happy Cisse leading the line against obliging opponents would be a great option for Fantasy managers. We can only hope this is sorted out soon.

Then there’s Joe Kinnear, the new Director of Football, apparently charged with recruiting new players. It’s hard to see Alan Pardew not being undermined here, and there’s the concern this will filter into the dressing room.

Also, Newcastle’s form last season was simply disastrous. Under-achieving on a large scale.

So there’s plenty to consider for Fantasy Managers when considering Newcastle’s assets. But I am still tempted.

With so many attackers occupying our thoughts, finding room for a Newcastle defender looks easier. Yanga-Mbiwa could be the bargain, unless Dummett forces his way into the team. Further up, it’s hard to look beyond Ben Arfa, but finding the room and budget is another matter.