In a matter of days we have a left wing in, a left wing out. McClaren’s squad has seen something of an overhaul. How will he shake it all about? 

Newcastle United has been a roller coaster for wingers. In recent times we have seen ben Arfa come and be pushed out, Cabella fail to establish himself and Thauvin apparently set to go on loan. 

On the loan front, we have also seen Sammy Ameobi go to Cardiff, Callum Roberts go to the Heed, another wide player in Vuckic be farmed out, this time to Wigan. At this point Shane Ferguson deserves a mention. 

Ferguson harks back to the hatful of Northern Irish talent that has, in the past, trundled through the doors of St James’ Park, the last winger being Keith Gillespie. Handed his debut under Chris Hughton, the sweetness of his left foot impressed although. Like his current international manager, he perhaps lacked the physique needed at the top level. 

Largely ignored by Pardew, who after all did not have a great record of developing youngsters, Ferguson had loan spells at Birmingham with Lee Clark and then at Millwall. In fact he has 3 times as many caps for his country as league starts for the club that held his registration.

With his signing at the Den made permanent, it goes without saying that we wish Shane the very best for his future career, not least with another Northern Ireland wide player who still holds a St James’ Park record, Michael O’Neill, at the European Championships this summer, building on their historic achievement. 

It will not be overlooked that elsewhere in the history of wingers, McClaren managed England. Our most recent former managers to have done the same had a great record with wingers, as already mentioned Gillespie. We always hope that a new winger will be as successful as Robert under Sir Bobby. 

Looking back to the Keegan wingers, we can also remember Ginola, who went on to be a player of the year when at Spurs. In fact, looking back at history, Spurs seemed to have the better of deals on the whole. 

White Hart Lane ended up being a home to not only Ginola but Kevin Scott, Gazza the Mars bar, Sir Les, coach Keith Burkinshaw and winger Chris “fish and chips” Waddle as well as Bassong and Jenas. In return we have had Peter Garland, Ruel Fox and now, Andros Townsend. 

We extend a warm welcome to Andros. His pace and two footed abilities will be a welcome addition. It remains to be seen whether he will be played down the right, where we have seen him excel for his country, or down the left which could provide the balance that the squad clearly needs. 

Some will point to Townsend’s record at Spurs and question the fee commanded. Sure enough, he had been on loan at 9 clubs (including Shane Ferguson's Millwall) and his maximum number of Premier League appearances in a season has been 25, two years ago. He has also only scored 5 premier League goals, as many as he has for England at U17 and full international level. 

Whilst Spurs fans have highlighted on social media Townsend’s ability to hit row Z, that should not be an indicator of his skill levels. Instead we can look at his potential as demonstrated in an England shirt. 

We have seen him be prepared to cover back, we have seen his ability to break at pace. Looking back through his goals, although taking penalties with his left suggests a particular strength, arguably his right footed finish for England against Italy was, in context, his finest yet. Some of his skills are shown in the clip below this article. 

Off the pitch, he has also shown that his skills arguably exceed those of two former England greats, both of who played for Spurs, one of them having made the left wing at St James’ Park his own. The number of YouTube hits for his singing suggests that he could be even more popular than Waddle, let alone Waddle’s daughter as can be seen on the right.

It would seem that the singing talents of Jonas Gutierrez have now been replaced. 

At his best, we can see that Townsend has much to offer. If he delivers he will surely become a Newcastle legend. He has the ability, pace, and skills with both feet. 

The big question is where he will fit in. He has suggested that his role is seen as on the left. If that is the case, he will provide the balance that this team really needs, to pose a threat down more than just the right hand side. 

As a part of our own transfer window preview here, we highlighted some of the needs. Andros Townsend has the potential to provide flexibility as well as a huge potential threat with the distribution that we have already seen from Jonjo Shelvey, a former relatively near neighbour on the London/Essex fringes. 

There are still questions to be answered. The first among those is whether the attacking threat will also be added to in the transfer window. The other is whether McClaren has the flexibility to abandon his negative tactic of playing two holding midfielders. 

The balance within the squad now suggests a potential return to the flowing football days of Keegan and Robson. It is up to McClaren whether or not he takes advantage of the new skill set at his disposal. 

Given a few games, as we have highlighted here, there are other options available should McClaren be unable to deliver. 

The platform is set for the new English lads to strive for France in June, alongside the French contingent within the squad. Let’s hope that both the new arrival Townsend, as well as Shane Ferguson, can make the headlines out wide for the right reasons in the summer. 

With a left wing in and a left wing out, let McClaren shake it all about. For the rest of this season we all hope the new signings will dance and that results will turn around, after all, that’s what it’s all about.