There’s an irrefutable energy around Newcastle United at the moment. This is a fanbase riding the crest of a wave, and though the murky context of an ownership trying to desperately scrub their hands clean lingers like a fog on the Tyne, few fans could begrudge the long-suffering Newcastle faithful their time in the sun. The streets are paved with gold, and the city is awash with money. But with change comes confusion, chaos, and ultimately catastrophe without stability.
Stoic and articulate, Fabian Schar stands as a bastion of sensibility amidst all the noise of St. James’s Park on a Champions League night. After five years at the club, the defender knows of a time before the spotlight was so firmly fixed, when the bright lights of European away days were a distant memory. So, with a grounding in the past and the present of Newcastle’s illustrious history, there is no better person to lead Eddie Howe’s men into the future.
The Swiss centre-half has played every minute of Newcastle’s Premier League campaign this season. But with 12 months remaining on his current contract, there is an expectation that talks need to be wrapped up soon. Defensive reinforcements arrived in the form of Lewis Hall and Tino Livramento during the summer. But Howe felt that in Sven Botman, Jamal Lascelles, and 31-year-old Schar, he had enough centre-backs to compete on multiple fronts this season.
Botman’s knee injury has, however, left Newcastle a little light at the back, and Howe may explore his options in January. But it’s a credit to the performances of Schar and Lascelles that few have bought into question Newcastle’s defensive record this season. There’s something balletic about Schar, a £3m arrival from Deportivo La Coruna in 2018. With furious finesse, he pirouettes through the air and dances en pointe through opposition defences, all whilst maintaining a graceful demeanour that belies his industrious 6’2 frame.
Schar suits both Newcastle’s robust physicality and their propensity for possession-heavy, back-to-front football. His driving runs through midfield have become a staple of Newcastle’s play, whilst his ability to hit a ball from range has ensured his place in Newcastle folklore – their dismantling of PSG will remain the stuff of legend on Tyneside for years to come.
Newcastle are approaching a potentially crucial juncture in their season, with the Geordies set to face off against Borussia Dortmund, Bournemouth, Chelsea, PSG, Manchester United, and Everton over the next few weeks. Schar’s calming influence and experience will be vital – for all the plaudits they’ve received, Newcastle are still taking steps to establish their place amongst Europe’s elite, and their owners know that talking on the pitch stops the talking off it. Yes, football is a fickle old sport.
At 31, he has been a figure of consistency during his time at the club, earning the trust of Howe and the role of a leader within the dressing room. But at Newcastle, change is always around the corner, and Schar’s ability to hold himself to a higher standard than he has already shown will be crucial, especially in light of his current contract situation.
By: Sam Tabuteau / @TabuteauS
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Sebastian Frej / MB Media / Getty Images