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Vurnon Anita being used as a winger highlights Newcastle's deficiencies - flair is urgently required; Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez needs to dip into the transfer market and bring in greater invention as soon as possible.

Byline: Chris Waugh

Two games down, still no points on the board - and how Newcastle United desperately need an injection of flair in attack.

The manner in which the Magpies conceded both of their goals during the 2-1 defeat to Huddersfield Town may have been worrying enough in itself, given that they stemmed from defensive lapses, but that will not be Rafa Benitez's gravest concern.

It is the lack of creativity in the final third which continues to constrain United, whose only second-tier goal from 180 minutes of football this season has been a rebound from a spot-kick.

Newcastle's predictability in attack has allowed both Fulham and Huddersfield to frustrate the Magpies, and then sucker-punch United on three occasions by capitalising on defensive mistakes.

And if there is one thing which highlights United's lack of cutting edge going forward, it is Vurnon Anita's name appearing on the teamsheet in both of their opening matches as a winger.

The diminutive Dutchman tirelessly gives his all for the cause, and Benitez trusts him - but there is no hiding from the fact Anita is anything but a Championship-level wideman.

He doesn't have the guile, the invention or the skills to be able to trouble second-tier defences.

Until Matt Ritchie - who was nursing a knock and so was only deemed fit enough to play 45 minutes - was introduced at half-time, Newcastle barely created a clear-cut chance of note.

The Scotland international improved the Magpies after the break, that much is without doubt, but Ritchie alone cannot be expected to drive United forward.

Mo Diame's much-anticipated debut fell a little flat, but he will add something to the Magpies in attack once he finds his feet.

Yet even the Senegal international's finest form, allied with that of Ritchie, will not be nearly enough to establish United as the promotion favourites they should be.

Moussa Sissoko would help bolster Newcastle's physicality and would drive them forward more regularly, but clearly Benitez has decided the wantway Frenchman is not in the frame of mind to be able to perform for United right now after leaving him out of the matchday squad for the Terriers clash.

Instead, Benitez needs further attacking reinforcements brought through the door.

Fernando Forestieri was left out of the Sheffield Wednesday squad this weekend as rumours linking him with both Newcastle and Derby County grow, and the Italian's creativity would be welcome at St James' Park right now.

So too would Anthony Knockaert's invention and goal threat, with the Frenchman having netted Brighton & Hove Albion's opener in a 3-0 victory over Nottingham Forest on Friday night.

Newcastle have already had a substantial bid knocked back for the winger, but Benitez clearly realises that United need the imagination and innovation that a player like Knockaert would provide.

Ayoze Perez was dropped for this defeat after his poor display at Craven Cottage, and when the Spaniard was brought on to the field Benitez lamented his forward's lack of physicality and decisiveness in possession on at least three occasions.

Another attacking player who Benitez could barely hide his frustration with was Rolando Aarons.

Elevated into the starting line-up just days after signing a new five-year contract, the 20-year-old was hooked at the interval after a dissatisfactory first-half display in which he continuously coughed up possession.

Until Newcastle become more of a frightening prospect in attack, their defensive woes will not desert them.

In order to offer more of a threat, they needed greater flair, they need greater ingenuity, and they needed greater innovation.

Benitez must dip into the transfer market once again in order to acquire that - and he knows it.


Vurnon Anita
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Chronicle (Newscastle upon Tyne, England)
Date:Aug 14, 2016
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