Newcastle United in search for Euro goal ace

By Lee Ryder on Apr 11, 11 11:40 AM

Just like a trip to dentist, watching toothless Newcastle United try and fail to beat Aston Villa was a painful experience.

For all Shola Ameobi brings to the table at Newcastle (presence, muscle, the odd goal and half decent hold play), when the news filtered around the Villa Park Press room that he'd woken up with swelling on his knee after a knock in training, the fact his absence was regarded "a blow" shows how threadbare the Magpies really are this season.

At one stage this term Shola couldn't get into the Newcastle side because of the blistering form of Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan who had formed one of the best partnerships in black and white in recent years.

After a glance at the team sheet before the kick off you have to had doubts in matching up against a Villa team who have been nothing short of woeful at times this season.

Nile Ranger is still young and has a lot to learn but has hit something of a brick wall since making the step up to first team level.

Don't forget it's only his second season, but the lethal finishing many witnessed in the reserves in the last two years seems to have gone AWOL.

Ranger can finish, can head a ball and has superb pace to beat defenders.

It seems though, that the marbles have not yet dropped into place.

Given that Carroll took time in making the transition from reserve team hotshot to first team goal getter, you would have to afford Ranger a similar period to come up with the goods.

But you don't need anybody to tell you that Carroll and Ranger - who missed a chance that Big Andy would have buried - are two different players entirely.

There have been times when we've really missed Carroll since he went.

At Villa, it was one of those times.

Not that there were too many crosses he could have connected with throughout a drab 90 minutes of action.

Peter Lovenkrands worked hard but like Newcastle's current strike force, he isn't prolific.

In my opinion the only proven natural goalscorer Newcastle have on their books at this time is Nolan.

And why does he have this habit of getting on the end of things?

It's because he gambles.

Not in Ladbrokes of course, but when balls are pumped in he goes for them and he takes a chance by chasing a lost cause, as demonstrated in his last game against Wolves when he banked on Ameobi winning the flick which allowed him to roll in his 12th of the season.

If only Newcastle's frontline would follow his lead rather than waiting for the World Cup final inch perfect pass or watching balls fly over their heads before gesticulating about poor deliveries.

It's no good crying over spilled milk regarding Carroll but the sooner Alan Pardew can get a striker in who can combine with the likes of Nolan, Joey Barton (if he stays) and Hatem Ben Arfa (when fit) the better from a black and white point of view.

Who that player will be, we're not 100% sure.

What I do know is France, Germany and Holland seem to be hot spots for the Toon scouting network.

And any arrivals this summer are more likely to be striking equivalents of a Tiote or Ben Arfa than a big name domestic striker.

Either way, the difference between picking up a point or slumping to defeat in games exactly like yesterday and the difference between killing games off like Sunderland away and Tottenham at home - is a striker who plays crap but finds a route past the keeper regardless of what's going around him.


KingsToon said:

I think you do both Shola and Nolan a disservice here Lee.
Shola needs managing to be made more effective - he has scored some vital goals for us this season - and last.
Nolan is more than just a gambler - no-one reads the game better than Nolan - it's not plain gambling its anticipation based on a great brain for reading the game - certainly makes up for lack of pace with is vision.
He also reads opponents and teammates well.

toonagain said:

Shola has never been a great player and how he keeps hurting himself enough to keep him side-lined i have no idea? but apprently can't hurt himself in his sleep now - sorry couldn't resist...

The differnece between AC and Ranger is that AC had a yr in the 2nd tier to learn the ropes. Now we can either do the same with Ranger or flog him or send him back to the reserves.

Nolan has got guts and character and he wants to have a go cause he thinks he can, he doesn't care what people say about him he just leads by example. we miss him everytime he is out. as for Joeytheworldbeater -no pun intended- barton hes a great footballer but he is still crackers!

I have no answers to sort out what is happening but I can see that the teams around us have improved since jan and we haven't. why do i get the feeling MA simply likes to gamble with the fortues of NUFC..? watching newcastle is like watching the marble go around the roulette table, where it will land is anyones guess!?

kennoo said:

enrique stayed with us when we were relegated so he has been more loyal than a lot of others.i hope he stays but if not good luck to him.the management have to take responsibility overall for keeping players.ashley is staying for ashley and not the toon so unil someone else comes along we aint got a hope to get quality players.i can see them being quite satisfied if the toon just survives year in and year out

Graham Southern Toon said:

Ashley made a big mistake in January, if he had kept Carroll and we had been the ones spending big to sign someone like Luis Suarez then the Toon would now be the ones looking to get into Europe. Instead a mid table finish is about as good as we are likely to get. A risk from our owner was required but it is never likely to happen.

Steve said:

I note the points in your article, however I fear that the biggest problem we may have is the sale of our best players, not the search for new ones.
I do of course refer to the story that Liverpool have already done a deal with NUFC for Enrique. Are the toon making deals behind the backs of the supporters now? Have LFC flouted the transfer regulations by approaching Jose without NUFC permission? or, and I hope this is true, has Phil Thompson taken it upon himself to try and instigate a move for probably the best left back in the premier league to go to his beloved reds,
Food for thought, I only hope we are not getting screwed by the NUFC heirarchy again!

LN2Mag said:

The lack of goals, fire power and losing Andy Carroll will haunt us for a long time to come. Even if we do manage to stay up this season and it is not guaranteed just yet, I cannot see anything but another relegation struggle next year because we are not going to sign a proven goalscorer as Lee's article suggests. It is looking more and more likley that we will be without Enrique (an absolute certainty) Barton and possibly Nolan as well. Through Jonas and Colo into the mix of player's we are likely to recieve decent offers for and you have to ask the question when has MA ever said no to a decent offer? I'm afraid it is all doom and gloom on the toon for a long while to come, or at least until MA moves of and we get new owners in.


Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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