How to rebuild a football club – a specific example – Newcastle United’s takeover!

In the midst of Newcastle becoming the richest club in the world (to the extent that they are 10x richer than the filthy rich Man City), there’s been lots of talk about which players the club should sign. This is normal for fans, but the club shouldn’t think like this.

In the short-term, the objective is to keep the club in the league, because there’s no guarantee they do stay in the league. To maximise their chances they’ll need to sign another outlet to complement ASM, and that’s with or without Steve Bruce (probably without).

The team is limited in the sense that with Bruce they are only capable of playing a 5-3-2 block due to his managerial deficiencies and this plan is fine and will probably see the team stay up with two high quality outlets up front (ASM, Wilson, new signing) but it’s v. defensive.

The fans’ excitement and belief will demand for more aggressive and exciting football in the short-term, and this is something Bruce cannot offer. His narrow diamond/4-3-3 is nowhere near good enough, but I can’t imagine he’ll stick around long enough for that to become clear.

So, as is expected anyway, the best decision would be to relieve Steve Bruce of his duties.

Secondly, the club must sign a manager who is capable of playing an aggressive controlled tactic to fulfil the fans’ & teams immediate needs. Favre, Rodgers and Gerrard would enable this.

A similar style to Southampton makes sense, which is why I’m surprised that Hasenhuttl hasn’t been linked with the job – his style is aggressive but they also play common sense football, which is needed considering the lack of good player quality at Newcastle United Football Club

Southampton play long & challenge for 2nd balls in midfield but also play short & utilise their overload in the build-up if possible. They also (counter)press incredibly aggressively but are also not naive & accept that they will be forced back on occasion. This is what NUFC need

Favre, Gerrard, Hasenhuttl, Dyche and Rodgers will offer this style of football which will see the club easily stay in the league provided they sign another outlet to complement Callum Wilson and Saint-Maximin who are rarely fit together. Outlets are needed to play this way.

So, in the short-term, this will keep the club in the league.

In the medium-long term, the rebuild should be centred around the manager who picks a set philosophy, system and style in which there’s a clear set of requirements in the transfer market in the immediate and long-run.

So, for example, when Klopp came to Liverpool he implemented an aggressive pressing tactic but the team lacked lacked directness, pace and runners in behind & were poor defensively, so he signed 3 physical specimens who were necessary upgrades in Mané, Matip & Wijnaldum.

The team elevated in terms of quality but still lacked depth, runners in behind bar Mané, quality in certain areas, & lacked control on games due to a lack of leader profile in defence & competent goalkeeper – clear holes, so Klopp filled them (VVD, Salah, Robbo, Allison).

The rest is history. So, crucially, Klopp had a fixed style and fit players into it – this way he could easily identify where the team struggled. Solskjaer did the same at United – they had a set structure but lacked a leader, quality BTL, etc. So he signed Maguire, Bruno, etc.

And in the midst of plugging those gaps, the likes of Klopp and Solskjaer developed players like Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Henderson, Lallana, etc, etc, & Greenwood, Shaw, McTominay, etc respectively.

They moulded a squad around their system.

Newcastle must do the same. This is the beginning of their rebuild, and the strategy is really obvious considering the blueprint laid out by other clubs who have undergone a successful rebuild in recent years (Liverpool, United, Bayern with Flick).

Identifying a set system to build around reduces the need for many signings in many positions. Players can also be developed and tested within that tactic throughout the rebuild thanks to their individual development and they have time to grow as the team grows (Greenwood, TAA).

So, let’s assume Newcastle hire a strict 4-2-3-1/4-4-2 coach and this is their squad. It’s really obvious where they have to improve. They need a top outlet to complement ASM and Wilson, a better leader & technician than Lascelles, a right back, depth at 10, & a top pivot player

If you replace those holes in the squad & demote the current starters to back ups you have a clear progression in the squad (these are not signings I would make as they’re collectively old for a rebuild – they are merely examples). Again, holes become even clearer for next season.

People will simply say it’s spending money & that’s an obvious strategy, & Newcastle would stumble their way to the top with a bad strategy considering how wealthy they are (which is true), but it’s about the way you spend money. Every club in the PL has financial power in 2021.

For Newcastle to get to the top as quickly as possible, this is the general template they should use – pick a manager with a top system and understanding of balance etc before identifying qualitative holes in the squad and filling them with suitable profiles. Klopp & Ole did it.

This can be achieved in any system and there are a number of players who would thrive in specific systems as opposed to others (like Willock in the 4-3-3 as opposed to the 4-2-3-1 as it stands), but the general point stands. This can be applied to a 4-3-3, 3-4-3, 4-4-2, whatever.

Overall, the transfer hysteria around what players Newcastle should sign and future potential XI’s are illogical because they’re yet to appoint their new manager but when they do it’s crucial the manager sticks to a set and high quality style and the club builds around that.

City started their rebuild off by signing star names as opposed to signing players for a set style. They learnt their lesson and built top squads for Mancini/Pep/Pellegrini, but the success was delayed.

NUFC shouldn’t make the same error, especially in an uber-competitive PL.


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