With the transfer window due to officially open in 1st July, toontoon.co.uk takes a look at the squad. This is an effort to help the new manager make the right decisions about the senior players. 

In compiling the statistics, there will be some disagreements. We have restricted appearances to Premier League starts. Yes, it is a squad game, substitutions being critical to the outcome of matches but starts can be a better guide to overall experience. 

Some critics will point to the starts and goals being in the Premier League for Newcastle. A few players were here in the Championship season, a couple have played for other Premier league clubs, specifically, Colback and Obertan. Certainly, the majority of the squad have played in other top leagues. 

We could have ordered the data in a variety of ways. For the sake of ease in determining potential market activity, we decided on remaining contract. For a few of the players, where this is not in the public domain, we have made estimates. 

So to the data:

The first observation to make is that the senior squad currently numbers 28 players, 3 more than the regulations allow to be named to appear during the season. We know that some will go on loan, some will terminate contracts early and some will be sold. It may be safe to assume that the likes of Ferguson and Vuckic will not be among the final 25. 

Looking at Premier League experience in the squad, 5 players have played over 100 games, Coloccini, Taylor, Krul, Williamson and Tiote. Of course, two of them were missing through injury for much of last season, arguably a couple more went missing on the pitch. 

It appears something of an indictment on the regime that there has been little evolution in the defensive spine, although Australian international Good and Lascelles can be seen as additions. Elsewhere, Ashley has made a fair profit out of full backs, Janmaat proving a success. On the other flank, we look at potential with Dummett and Haidara but otherwise a lack of depth. 

The more alarming column is goals scored, something which we also highlighted at the start of last season as an issue to be addressed. Cisse on 34 clearly leads the way, Taylor, Gouffran and Sissoko being the only others to barely break double figures. 

It would seem that whatever price a proven Premier League goal scorer comes in at, the value is potentially worth more to Newcastle United. Despite emulating World Cup winner, Guivar’ch who scored a massive 1 goal for the Magpies, Riviere has highlighted the gamble of bringing in a key player at low cost from a foreign league. 

Critically, despite Ayoze stepping into the breach at times, there were only 2 senior strikers on the books. 

Midfield provides a different challenge. In total, we see 15 senior players on that list of 28. A sub analysis shows that of those, there were 5 genuine wide players, Marveaux who was out on loan last season, Sammy who is apparently yet to agree to stay, Ferguson who was also on loan but unfit, Cabella who has struggled with Premier League physicality and Obertan. 4 are naturally left sides, one naturally right sided. 

During his time here, Pardew had tended towards the defensive, also playing central players out wide and narrowing play by employing players to cut in. There are a plethora of players who have been used in the containing role, Colback, Tiote, Anita, Abeid, Bigiramana. At times, Sissoko and Gouffran were also used, if not out wide. 

OK, Sissoko also contributed in driving forward, Perez and de Jong available for an attacking midfield role when fit or not otherwise deployed. In truth, since Cabaye left 18 months ago, there has not been a sufficiently creative force. Vuckic is another who went on loan and like Abeid in the previous season, performed when in a different environment. 

Another sad legacy of the Pardew years under the puppeteer is the lack of talent educated locally. There are youngsters available, whether brought in from outside, such as Aarons, or in the shape of Armstrong and Roberts. 

So we have areas identified as to where improvements are needed, we have areas where there is a surfeit of players. We know where the system has failed in developing talent from within. The frustrating part about that is that in Chris Hughton, Newcastle once had a manager who gave youth its chance, such as Krul, Carroll and others like Kadar who have moved on. 

McClaren will also see that the environment also has to be right. Thankfully, it seems that the man who has one Premier League top half season in his managerial career now has a progressive number 2. Other potential had turned the club down. 

He will also have seen alleged NUFC targets have already been snapped up, Tyrone Mings going to Bournemouth with 7 fewer years’ Premier League income than Ashley’s club. Swansea have also beaten us where the Newcastle hierarchy saw no value. 

Perhaps that explains why Swansea have recently had cup success and finished in the top half whilst Newcastle have battled against relegation twice in 3 years. 

Looking at where strengthening is needed, it seems fair to have identified central defence, depth alongside, width and quality playmaking as well as depth up front. The shopping list is long, due to Ashley’s underinvestment. We can watch as teams with half of our support move further and further ahead. 

One of the elements excluded from our table is cost of players. It stands out that 3 players have cost in the region of £10m, last year Cabella, Cisse in 2012 and Coloccini in 2008. No other squad member has cost more than £7m with 8 players sold in excess of that amount. 

McClaren may share supporters’ thoughts on the strength of individual players and the squad as a whole. He clearly has some trading to do in order to get balance and quality. It will also be remembered that he resigned from First after signing 5 players, being sacked by Derby after signing 17. 

The biggest challenges appear to be getting hold of Ashley’s cash, then merging the remnants of the current squad with any new signings. The question will then become if the new manager stays around long enough to gain only his 2nd ever Premier League top 10 finish.