Newcastle United goalkeeper Nick Pope is becoming a problem for Eddie Howe.

Nick Pope had a poor game for Newcastle United this weekend, and was directly responsible for Brighton’s first goal.

The south coast club ultimately ran out 3-1 winners at the Amex Stadium, with Evan Ferguson registering a hat-trick.

The result meant that Eddie Howe’s side have now lost three Premier League matches in succession. What’s more, their style of play appears one-dimensional. This is where Pope is posing a problem.

Putting aside the 31-year-old’s individual errors, his lack of ability with the ball at his feet limits how Newcastle can build attacks. This makes the Magpies more predictable, and vulnerable against a high press, if they’re trying to retain possession in their own defensive third.

There has been a trend towards using ball-playing ‘keepers in recent season. This fashion picked up pace this summer, with Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, and Tottenham Hotspur all signing new shot-stoppers who excel with the ball at their feet.

The only reason Liverpool and Manchester City didn’t make similar acquisitions is that, in Alisson and Ederson, respectively, they already have two of the best ball-playing goalkeepers in world football.

Newcastle United v Liverpool FC - Premier League
Photo by Alex Dodd – CameraSport via Getty Images

Pope preventing Newcastle progress

In this regard, Newcastle are in danger of being tactically left behind by the traditional ‘big six’ clubs. These sides are evolving the way they play, and the way they use their goalkeepers is helping to take them to another level. Due to Pope’s limitations, Newcastle can’t currently follow suit.

Having worked so hard to get the Tyneside club back into the Champions League, Howe can’t allow Newcastle to fall behind again now.

Pope has been a fine servant for the club. The 10-cap England international has been called “outstanding” before by Tim Sherwood, and he is a great shot-stopper. However, he isn’t what Newcastle need to go to the next level.

If the club are to take the next step in their progression, then Howe must already be planning for a way to upgrade his options between the sticks.

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