£35m…but at what cost?

by Joshua Fowler

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

We can all agree, I’d imagine, that £35 million is far too much for Andy Carroll. As has been suggested, I’m sure Mike Ashley and Alan Pardew were doing cartwheels all over St. James’ Park on Tuesday night until someone sheepishly muttered, ‘So…who is going to score our goals now then?’

It seems to me that Newcastle have snatched at the chance to take a lot of money for a player that has scored 11 goals in his first Premier League season as a first choice striker. That is a great bit of business, but only if you have a goal scorer lined up to replace him. There are currently two players above Carroll in the Premier League goal scoring table and it’s safe to say that Newcastle certainly didn’t bring in Tevez or Berbatov with that £35m, in fact, they brought in no one. Pardew and Ashley need only to look to the buying club, Liverpool, to see how to handle the selling of your only scoring striker – replace him with two hungry, goal scoring strikers with points to prove. Suarez and Carroll are more than adequate replacements for a striker who has lost his love for Liverpool and provide The Reds, finally, with the option of playing two strikers at once whilst not involving Jovanovic or Voronin.

So the question that no one seems to be asking is: Where will Newcastle’s goals come from? After Carroll’s departure, the club are left with four strikers, whilst their next top goalscorer is Kevin Nolan, a central midfield player. Of the four strikers that remain at the club, Shola Ameobi seems most likely to step up, looking to add to his four Premier League goals this term. Between them, the four players have nine goals this season, that’s two short of Carroll’s tally, one short of Nolan’s. You can see the issue developing here, the Toon currently sit 9th in the table, but their upcoming fixtures are tricky ones, with a trip to a resurgent Fulham tonight, hosting Arsenal this weekend and that’s followed by a trip to Blackburn, who currently sit one place above the Magpies in 8th. There are indeed no easy fixtures in our Premier League, but they’re made increasingly harder when you’re relying on players like Leon Best to provide your attacking threat (a player who scored all his three goals this campaign in one game).

On paper, Newcastle’s team looks too good to slip into the depths of the ‘W’ dominated bottom of the table, but didn’t we all think that last time? Their midfield is strong, but without the goals of Andy Carroll, Newcastle’s goal difference this season slips from +3 to -8, worse than Blackpool, and that’s not mentioning the role Carroll had in Nolan’s 10 league goals this season. Having made one loan signing in January, we can only imagine that Ireland steps in for Nolan, who will push further up behind Ameobi, forming a Gerrard/Torres formation. However, does this present Newcastle with a Gerrard/Lampard dilemma with Ireland and Nolan? Only time will tell, but one thing we do know is, Newcastle will soon find out that £35m might not have been enough for a player that has been priceless for them this season.

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