As tensions begin to mount amongst the Newcastle United fans in the Transfer Tavern after an eerily quiet January transfer window, it’s fair to say the Toon Army propping up the bar are at their most nervous since Rafa Benitez agreed to stay on as the club’s manager.
While it’s important not to get at each other’s throats so quickly, with the Magpies still in the top two, there are clearly problems up and down the impressive frame of St. James’ Park. One of the major ones has been the form of Jamaal Lascelles, a hugely popular figure on Tyneside.
Though the 23-year-old looks like he can one day be the captain the club’s sizeable fan base crave, there’s little doubt the former Nottingham Forest man is stuck in a rut right now. It’s been a difficult season for him all round, with the central defender suffering a slow start to the campaign, though it must be said he has previously responded well to previous dips in form.
However, despite his popularity, it’s time to acknowledge the fact Lascelles needs to improve. Too hesitant on the ball, too easily rounded and far too slow in the tackle, there’s only so long Ciaran Clark can carry the skipper. With Chancel Mbemba waiting in the wings, he’s by no means undroppable.
Ahead of Saturday’s clash with former manager Steve McClaren, who brings his Derby side to town, Lascelles needs a big game.