Newcastle United are famed for their passionate support, as well as their loyal fans. They have a rich history, challenging for the title in the mid 1990’s, boasting a team with the likes of David Ginola, Les Ferdinand and then world record signing, Alan Shearer. After some disappointing times, where they suffered relegation, they have got themselves back on track, even getting in Europe last season. Under Alan Pardew, they have built a strong team, who despite a poor last season, are very capable of challenging for a place in the top half of the table. In Football Manager, you have a tough challenge attempting to move out the older parts of the team, and bring in fresh new faces who can help you do well in this season. Hopefully this guide will allow you a good idea of what you should consider doing, if you choose to take charge of the Magpies.
Finances and Budget
Newcastle are a team with a good budget to work with, thanks to club chairman Mike Ashley, though some claim he is not interested in the football and only interested in making money. The minimum expectation which you are expected to accomplish is a top half finish. This will give you £8 million to spend on players, but you may want to convert some of this into your wage budget, which is slightly on the low side. If you have a slightly higher expectation of the team and your managerial abilities, then you can earn a slight upgrade to the budget, if you believe you can qualify for the Europa League, an £8.5 million budget will be yours to spend, but again, the wage budget is still relatively small, as there is no upgrade for the wage budget until the next, and highest expectation. If you consider yourself a very advanced Football Manager player, or would just like to test yourself, the next expectation is for you. The board would expect you to finish in the top 4, gaining access to Europe's premier competition. Although this may seem like an unreasonable goal, if you are willing to take the risk, you will find yourself with an impressive £9.5 million to spend on new players, as well a doubled wage budget from the other two expectations.
One of the most important things that you need for a successful career on Football Manager is a good tactic. Keeping one tactic throughout a whole save will not be very effective but here are just a few that should work ideally to start off with.
The 4-1-2-1-2 is an ideal tactic for Newcastle in league fixtures, as it is both reliable and effective. It is the perfect balance between attack and defence, while also playing heavily to Newcastle’s strengths. In this tactic, it is important to choose your players carefully. Firstly, you need to have pacy wingers, who are able to cross good balls into the box. Your strikers also need to be picked with care. Most people using this formation tend to have a tall, strong striker who is good in the air, as a target man for the wingers to get their crosses into. The other striker is generally smaller, with better ball control and dribbling, as well as good finishing, so that he can convert those one on one chances and also should possess a fair bit of pace, although not hugely important. A perfect example of this was when Peter Crouch and Jermaine Defoe played upfront for Spurs, producing a deadly combination.
This formation is also a fitting one for Newcastle. It allows their strong central midfielders to control the pace and play of the game, whilst the attacking midfielder here can be a crucial player to create chances. Your fullbacks, however, will have to be quite solid as there is no cover higher up the pitch to keep the opposing wingers out. The strikers, again, should be a mix of strength and height, and pace and skill. This will partly confuse the opposition because the two strikers will be totally different in style. In turn, they will likely be hard to contain.
As a 3rd choice tactic, this can be a very solid go to formation. This style is especially effective in order to combat strong centre backs, as it has only one striker, who is normally quick and a good finisher, but provides him with a lot of support, both from the wings, but also down the middle, if you have a creative CAM. The CAM will be allowed to weave his magic and trickery due to the other two central midfielders, who are both much more defensive, at times playing as defensive mids, but can push up if need be. The way Alex Ferguson regimented Manchester United a few years ago in this style was a good showcase of how it can be used effectively.
First 11 Position Analysis
Now you have your tactic, you need to decide the players who will be playing in these roles. To make this decision examine your tactic to find the best player for each position, and only look at those specific roles. For example, just because we have listed all positions here, there is no need for you to buy a CAM if none of your tactics utilise one. This is a brief analysis of all the roles you might wish to fill, and a look at your squad in general.
Goalkeeper- Newcastle have a solid keeper in the shape of Holland number 1, Tim Krul. Krul, who has recently been in the limelight for some great performances for his club, is just as good in Football Manager. He possesses great reflexes, which made his a great shot stopper, although his poor handling might be a issue against stronger teams. Being only 25, he can play in your starting 11 for many years to come, but you might look to bring in some competition, as the backup for him is less than adequate. The only notable other option is Rob Elliot, an English 27 year old, who can do a decent job in an emergency, as proved in real life last season, but should not be considered as a contender as a first team regular.
Right Backs- French defender Mathieu Debuchy is a perfect fit for this position. The France international has been a vital part of the Newcastle team since his arrival. Not only a solid defender, he will often be seen getting forwards to make some darting runs and whip in some crosses. Although not a natural player in this role, if you need cover for Debuchy, you should look to use Italian Davide Santon, whose natural position is a left back. This position lacks depth of players who can naturally play here, so you should look to add to the numbers in this role.
Center Backs- This position has slightly more depth than the previous one. Your number one center back should be your captain for the upcoming season - Argentine Fabricio Coloccini. He is brilliant in the air, can be a threat from corners and is a really solid defender. You should play either Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa or Steven Taylor alongside him, both whom are extremely capable of performing to a more than acceptable standard should they be called upon. Really, you should look to play Mbiwa as he is a hot prospect for Newcastle and if given playing time, could develop very nicely indeed.
Left Backs- Another position in defence which could do with some bulking up, you have two main option for this role. The first, as previously mentioned, is Davide Santon, an Italian 22 year old, who although is developing at a reasonable rate, still has a lot to learn about the game. His stats in game reflect this, and he will need a lot of attention and personal training focus if he is to reach a high standard. Your other option is very similar, namely Massadio Haïdara. Another French player, this 21 year old has a decent amount of potential, but like Santon, will require a lot of attention. On the other hand, as he is slightly younger, you might want to consider starting him, due to the fact that he will have more time to grow.
Defensive Midfielders- For this position, you have two very capable players, with the better of the two being Ivorian Cheick Tioté. The defensive midfielder has been a rock for Newcastle, though some have labelled him as too aggressive, which has been proved by his disciplinary record. He is a great player though, who can produce some amazing skill and has scored some wonderful goals. The other player you should look at to fill this role is Dutchman Vurnon Anita. He should definitely be rotated at the very least, as he has so much potential but just needs to get some game time. He has been capped three times in a Dutch squad brimming with talent, a large feat for a 24 year old.
Central Midfielders- This is a position that is packed with talent. The best three central midfielders are all French speaking. The number one midfielder is Yohan Cabaye, who was courted by Arsenal in the summer and nearly left. He possesses bags of skill, and can pack a fierce drive as well. He was commended for scoring a fantastic swerving goal from a distance against Liverpool earlier this season, and has been in the media’s eye for a long time. Another Frenchman, Moussa Sissoko, has looked a bargain since his move from Toulouse last season. He has held the team together, and scored some vital goals for the team. He looks to have a great future with Newcastle. The final player capable of playing in this position to a good standard is Tioté, who can be pushed up from the defensive midfield role if need be.
Right Midfielders/Wingers- Newcastle posses great depth and strength in the wide areas, with players who are capable of taking on defenders but also able to track back, and help out the full backs in the team, who might need assistance against larger teams. The obvious choice here is one of your best players, another Frenchman, Hatem Ben Arfa. Ben Arfa, who has surfaced in recent years as one of the best right midfielders in the Premier League, has many qualities which can help you win a match. His dribbling and pace allow him to get past opposition full backs with ease, while his strong left foot gives him the option to cut inside with great effect, and shoot from range. An all around great player, he is capable of leading your team to victory on his day, so selling him is something you want to avoid, despite the possible money you could gain from the deal. As backup, you have yet another French player, in the shape of Gabriel Obertan. Obertan is a 24 year old, who has lots of pace, which allows him to get past defenders easily. However, his crossing skills and general distribution are poor, resulting in him being much less effective against teams who are organised well defensively, as he is not able to create something from nothing very often.
Left Midfielders/Wingers- Another position with lots of strength, you have several left midfielders at your disposal. Jonás Gutiérrez will be your starter this season, as the Argentine is the most talented player in this position. Despite the fact that he is 30, Gutiérrez is just as capable of doing a good job out wide, especially when it comes to crossing, which he is particularly effective at. His apparent lack of pace could be a problem, but his solid defensive play, and hard work rate tend to balance this out. Your main other choice is Sylvain Marveaux, yet another French player. Marveaux is much more attacking than Gutiérrez, and tends to play more as a left winger, rather than a midfielder. Due to his good pace, he is a more direct player, running at defenders, and squaring the ball into the box. On the other hand, he will be less able to help out the fullbacks, and will not fall back as often as Gutiérrez, which is important to keep in mind when facing stronger squads.
Attacking Midfielders- This is a great position for Newcastle, due to the fact that several players can do a very good job here. The main one, however, is Hatem Ben Arfa, who is a brilliant playmaker for The Magpies. He has been scouted by many teams and is a very skillful player. Should you wish to use someone else, look no further than Yohan Cabaye, who, although better suited to a more pushed back position, will do the job, no doubt. This is perhaps another position you may look to strengthen, however this time with a few youth arrivals, as there does not seem to be many youngsters playing in this role, if any.
Strikers- Newcastle have always been renowned for a great front line, and that is no different at the moment. Your starting striker(s) will depend on what style you wish to play, but there are 3 main players who will be competing for these roles. The first of these is the man from Senegal, Papa Demba Cisse. Cisse, a great athlete, is renowned for his fantastic shooting ability, proven by a finish against Chelsea last season, which ended up as goal of the year. His finishing, coupled with his good positioning, with make for a striker who can score 20+ goals in season. Next up is new signing Loic Remy. Remy, who joined from QPR in the summer, has one main asset in his locker, his great pace. In real life, he has shown how much of a danger he can be, making himself one of the top scorers in the league, but in game, it will be harder for him to recreate this form, as his finishing is not as good as Cisse’s, and he has lower work rates. The last main option is Yoan Gouffran, another relatively new arrival the club. Joining from Bordeaux in his home country, he has struggled to make an impact in real life, scoring only 5 times in 22 games. However, you may be able to turn his fortunes around in Football Manager, as he has decent attributes all around, with decent pace and heading.
Now you know which players make up your team, and which players are not needed, you need to work on the obvious areas that need improvement. There are some obvious weak links in the team so here are some options for some players who you may be interested in signing.
Position 1 - Goalkeeper With only Tim Krul as your one standout goalkeeper, you should look to strengthen this department instantly. One of the goalkeepers that is often suggested as a potential signing by your assistant manager John Carver is Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny, although he may be a little expensive for your budget. If this is the case, an equally good buy (some would argue a better one) would be Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begović, who should be available for around £10 million.
So after reading this guide, I hope you have taken away some vital information about how you will be able to use your tactics, squad, and transfer budget to the best of your ability. I urge you if you are unsure about something, to give it a go, and see how your experiences differentiate from the ones in this guide.
If you have any questions, feel free to comment below.