It took some luck, some balls of steel, a bit of skill and many more factors to click into place all at once for us to secure promotion, but in the end it was very much a case of mission accomplished as Newcastle pretty much blew the rest of the Championship away.
Newcastle are back in the big time, back where it can be argued that a club with infrastructure and fanbase we have belongs, and we also have the chance to get back at those players who left us, the ones who got asked to shape up or ship out after that 6-1 pre-season defeat to Leyton Orient last season. That is not to say that I blame them for leaving, not one bit in fact, and I believe that those players leaving was the catalyst behind this new found team spirit that we keep hearing about. Having said that, it’s still always nice to get one over on your old colleagues, even Jose Enrique admitted recently he would be itching to do just that. So with that in mind, just what have they been up to whilst Newcastle have been away? Do we have anything to worry about from our former players?
Personally, I haven’t really been paying too much attention to the
Sky Premier League whilst we have been out of it. Don’t get me wrong, I have watched some games, but not with the same interest and intensity as I would if it involved Newcastle. Put simply, bollocks to the rest of them from my perspective. As a result of that though, I haven’t really been watching how our former players have been doing, which is what I am going to focus on now.
Obafemi Martins – I’m going to start with Oba as he was the inspiration for this artcle. Basically, he jetted off to Wolfsburg last summer for a fee of around £9 million where he made 22 appearances, mainly from the subs bench, scoring 6 goals in the process.
We wouldn’t have to worry about facing him next season anyway, but he has moved clubs again, this time to Rubin Kazan of Russia for a fee of around £6 million. Not a bad player for us, but if he could grow a football brain then he would be dangerous. Still, no problem for us next season anyway.
Michael Owen – The player that will have the most hatred directed at him by the fans, and has only recently decided to publicly say how terrible he felt after we got relegated. Tough luck son, you could have pulled your finger out a bit more in your time with us to stop it happening in the first place.
Anyhoo, Owen ended up at Manchester United and picked up at Old Trafford where he left off at St James’ Park. Injuries and lack of first team chances have hindered him as he only made 31 appearances in all competitions, scoring 9 goals. He could be a danger to us, if he is fit.
Damien Duff – One of those who was happy to stay and fight, and even started off the Championship season with us. Then he left, and started to bang on about his “Newcastle hell”. Let me tell you something ‘Duffer’, you didn’t end up being exactly what was written on the tin yourself, did you?
For Fulham though he was largely excellent in his 42 appearances last season, including that stunning cup run all the way to the Europa League final. He scored 9 goals and looked like the Duff we thought we had signed from Chelsea all those years back. If he plays like he can, then he will be a threat this season.
Sebastien Bassong – Who? That was the reaction when we signed him for £500,000 from Metz. He was an unknown that we took a gamble on, and it was a gamble that we won, a rare occurance for a Newcastle fan! He moved on to Tottenham for fee of around £10 million where he is now part of a Champions League squad.
I have absolutely no ill feeling towards Bassong, although the hefty fee that he genreated for the club probably forms part of the reson for that. Once he broke into our first team it was only a matter of time before he headed off to a team that was punching their weight rather than drastically underperforming. He made 38 appearances last season and will be tough opponent to face if we come across him this season.
Habib Beye – Sunday Monday, Habib Beye. Tuesday Wednesday, Habib Beye, and so. Beye was undoubtedly a crowd favourite at St James’ Park, and was also quite an able right-back to boot. Still, he was cited as a poisonous dressing room influence by some players after he left for Aston Villa.
Aston Villa, a new nemesis! I never knew they had such strong feelings about us, feelings that were demonstrated at Villa Park on the day we were relegated, which will make it even sweeter if we can beat them and Habib Beye’s bench warming arse when they come to SJP for our first home game of the season. I say bench warming as the now third choice right back at Villa Park only managed 6 appearances last season. How are those splinters, Habib? If he plays against us (unlikely) then he could be a tough opponent.
That is my summisation of how our former first team players have got on since they left us. Some have flourished, like Duff and Bassong whilst others have floundered, like Beye and Martins. Would I have some of them back? Probably, but it’s unlikely to happen so it’s pointless for me to theorise about it.
What do you think?