Never shirks a tackle, always harrying, jostling, ball winning and not without skill. The whole ‘The refs have his card marked’ thing gets right on me proverbials, mostly because with players like Cheik they are saying ‘if you tackle anyone, we’re gonna yellow card you.’ Tiote has no truck with this and just carries on regardless. For all his yellows, loads of them are for being Cheik Tiote. Away to Chelsea, 3/4 minutes in, yellow card for brushing past someone. Did it change his play? No, is the one word answer.
He can be guilty of holding on to the ball a bit sometimes and getting caught in possession, but it’s rare. Most of the time he just does what is necessary, breaks up play, destroys play, if you will, takes one for the team picks himself up, brushes himself down and just gets on with it.
He’s the classic ‘pocket battleship’ with a drive and athleticism that has made Newcastle an absolute ‘mare to play against. We really felt it when he went off to the African Cup of Nations, he was missed. You’d think the guy had been a Premier League player from birth. Get him on a long contract… Oh! He is already!
Jonas absolutely will not stop! He has played most games this season he emanates work ethic and has popped up with a few class goals too. Another one that is seemingly happy to play where asked, whether left back, wing, in the middle, he’s been all over the pitch this time out. Jonas never gives up and has been a consistent performer, has he ever scored less than a 7 in a game?
Argentinian friends refer to him as ‘the horse’, always running. But he brings skill, playing some great little triangles in tight positions down the line. He’s consistently double teamed by opponents, obviously in fear of his ability to work a situation and he is always a willing ‘out ball’, swiftly turning defence into attack. He draws fouls, is comfortable on the ball and brings others into the play. All of this led Alan Pardew to hand the Captains armband to Jonas in Colo’s absence to great effect, as we won both games. A fitting reward for Jonas’ efforts on the field and I’m sure it was a very proud moment for him, one he richly deserved.
For his first season in the English game Yohan has been nothing short of sensational. He’s the dynamo, the midfield general, the play maker. Don’t let that fool you into thinking that’s all he does though. Yohan knows how to stick his foot in with the best of them. He truly covers every blade of grass on the pitch. Helping out in defence, breaking up attacks, pin point accurate passing, either short, medium or long. He’s scored some memorable goals too, when he’s not making them for others. Don’t you just love the way he came here without any fuss and just got straight on with it, without ceremony?
Moving from Lille after winning a double with them last season, foregoing Champions League football to ply his trade with Newcastle in the Premier League. We haven’t had a midfielder like him since the likes of Rob Lee and Gary Speed. His focus is immense, he’s a winner and he’s brought that to Newcastle. The mind boggles at what he’s gonna be like next season, when he’s really settled in. A real contender – WOW!
Hatem Ben Arfa
Hatem brings the magic to this team. After what must have been the absolute nadir of his career last season, he’s come back and produced some real quality as his fitness has improved and the memory of that awful assault in Manchester has faded. You could see in his play earlier in the season that he was dusting off the cobwebs, gaining match fitness and mental toughness as he grew into the season. He was a little tentative at first and used sparingly by the boss, being allowed to feel his way back into games.
Since then though he’s been excellent. He’s really worked on other parts of his game and has fit right into the team ethic. Winning balls in his own half and generally scaring the *%$! out of defences. Turning mazy runs into brilliant and spectacular goals along the way. Bolton away was a watershed goal that paved the way for the Blackburn Bamboozle and the Bolton belter. I think we’ll see a lot more of Hatem next season as he looks fully fit now. If France don’t take him to the Euro’s, they’re mental!
When Danny came in for Tiote mid way through the season he was a revelation. He played his best football for us this year putting in some really eye catching shifts. Linking up well with Jonas, Cabaye, Perch and anyone who was thrown in when the ACoN, injuries and suspensions hit. I knew he had it in him but the way he just walked in from cold was great to see.
He’s another on the fringe and subsequently on the verge of a new deal. I’d like the guy to stay, not only because he’s proved he can walk in and get the job done, but also because he has skill and a great engine.
Well done Danny!
Still a young man that hasn’t played that much Premier League football, he got quite a few early season games. He has the kind of pace which has defences recoiling in fear, he’s just lacking the final killer touch and composure for now. He has recently been used as a late sub to keep defences on their toes.
He has time on his side and if he works hard at his game there’s no reason he can’t come good just like James Perch, Ryan Taylor and Danny’s Simpson and Guthrie have.
Sylvain Marveaux, Shane Ferguson, Dan Gosling, Mehdi Abeid and Haris Vuckic, keep pushing Lads, your chance will come.
There’s one or three in that little bunch worth a vote and I’m pretty sure that we’ve got a better more balanced and dynamic midfield than we’ve had for some years now. Anyone not happy with that, anyone wanna go back to what we had?
Forwards – Attack, Attack, Attack!
At the start of the season many were feeling worried, if not suicidal about the conumdrum of where the goals were coming from. Who’ll replace the Gatesheed goal scorer, will Demba’s much reported ‘dodgy knee’ hold out, will Leon Best get a game or goals or has Shola got anything left in the tank? Then there was the contributions of Peter Lovenkrands and Nile Ranger. Will Peter get game time, will Nile stay out of trouble? But the biggest question was ‘Will we get a new number 9 worthy of the shirt’s history and heavy responsibility?’
We ended up kicking off the season without a new number 9, but all was not lost. To say that there have been some remarkable performances from our attackers would be an understatement, so let’s move swiftly along and have a little look at what happened next, shall we?
A slightly subdued start from Demba, possibly due to Ramadan falling awkwardly at the beginning of the campaign. Demba, being a Muslim, had to observe his religious obligations so it’s fair to say he didn’t come out of the traps flying after a months fasting. He was quickly up and at ’em not long after though. Demba started piling the goals in and from all angles, starting with a hat-trick at SJP, putting Blackburn to the sword. From then on we became accustomed to seeing his ‘kissing of the ground’ goal celebration, a homage to his faith. There was no stopping the lad then and he was quickly becoming a bona fide Geordie Legend! Another hat-trick at Stoke put paid to their nice little run against the ‘top’ teams at home and started to raise a few eyebrows. Not least Stoke, as they were a team that had scruntinised Demba’s knee and deemed it a ‘ticking time bomb’ (is there any other type?). His penalty secured a hard earned point at Old Trafford and his opener at SJP in the reverse fixture put us on the road to taking 4 points from the reigning champions this season. Nice!
We lost his services to the African cup of Nations and when he returned he was to partner his Senegal team mate, one Papiss Demba Rodney Cisse. By the time he had notched his goal at home to Villa we started to employ a slightly different system and his contribution turned to provider / foil. Demba has been a revelation for us grabbing 16 goals this season with a smile on his face. He was totally unstoppable until Cisse came along and although his goals have dried up somewhat of late, his worth to the team has not diminished. His attitude has remained excellent, he’s been unlucky not to score on several occasions, rattling the woodwork and causing a threat in every game. If Cisse hadn’t come and done what he’s done I like to think that Demba would be sitting with at least another 10 goals to his name. He looked nailed on for player of the season at Christmas and is still in with a shout. He scores with either foot, headers, tap-ins, pens and blasters but he also knows how to drop back, win the ball and provide an outlet. Overall he’s had a magnicent season and has brought back the belief expected of a Newcastle centre forward, no mean feat.
Newcastle have been charting this guy’s progress and making enquiries for some time about the possiblity of signing him. I seem to remember noises coming out of the club after not getting another striker in the summer along the lines of ‘We’ve got money to spend in January, if need be and the right opportunity arrives’. Well, they did and it did and it was Super Cisse! It seems he was going for around £14m in the summer but we got him for up to £9m in January in what has proved to be one of the buys of the season.
What can I say about Papiss’ attributes that we haven’t all witnessed first hand? He roared into action on his debut at St. James’ Park against Villa with a very special winner. Alan Pardew was forced into introducing him early after an injury to Leon Best, he was ready! Since then he’s gone from strength to strength, wowing us with goals of a standard that us Geordies could only dream of since Big Al retired. Some of them have been almost beyond comparison and surely ‘Goal of the Season’ candidates. His movement off the ball is right up there with the best, he must be an absolute nightmare for opposition defences everywhere. Not only have his goals been stupendous, they’ve been timely and very important in our push to stay in the top 5 of the Premier League. Papiss has come in and turned the notion of ‘time to settle in a new league/country/language’ on it’s head. 13 in 13 tells you everything you need to know. It’s prodigious!
He looks like the most wisely spent £9m for a centre forward in the Premier League in recent memory. I’ve tried to rack my brains to compare him with someone, anyone. The nearest I can think of is Ruud Van Nistelrooy, though Cisse’s goals are way prettier to me. His 2 against Chelsea recently were out of this world, the second of which MUST be ‘Goal of the season’! His goal away to Swansea was a class apart too. I know he’s only been with Newcastle since his January move, but knowing how us Geordies love a number 9 who scores amazing goals for fun, there’s a strong chance that Papiss will garner the necessary votes to out score some of our other outstanding performers in this term’s player of the season. To walk into another league, half way through a season without the language, to a club like Newcastle with it’s history of number 9’s, with the weight of expectation and just slam in an amazing goal a game as nonchalant as you like is nothing short of incredible!
Shola has soaked up every bit of criticism aimed at him and walked through walls for Newcastle. His role of jumping off the bench whenever asked, popping up with crucial goals, classy assists and exempelary hold up play has been second to none this season. Who can forget his equaliser against Spurs at St. James’ Park?
Shola’s penchant and piece de resistance is as the scourge of the village of the damned. Once again being in the right place at the right time to break a few expectant Mackem hearts. He never moans, even though he’s been used sparingly but he always brings something different to the pitch.
While he’s not likely to be named player of the season he deserves great credit for just getting on with it and chipping in with some great play. He is now one of our longest serving players and defences around the premier league hate the sight of him. Not blessed with killer pace but he’s still got some killer moves!
Geordie Shola – ‘Mackem slayer!’
We haven’t seen Leon for a while, and again, this is more of an honourable mention in despatches. He did start the season well and got us off to a great start with 2 goals against Fulham and another against Villa, also scoring against QPR later in the campaign. However, his season was ended early as an injury in Cisse’s debut heralded the arrival of our new number 9. It’ll be interesting to see if he gets a call for the Ireland Euro squad now he’s back to fitness.
Not really enough game time for Peter to get a full appraisal. He did score in the Carling Cup and as he nears the end of his contract with Newcastle I’d just like to wish him all the best in whatever he does next and give him genuine thanks for the effort and goals he’s throw into the pot in our hour of need. Thank you Peter!
Loaned out and helped win promotion with Sheffield Wednesday, well done!
So that concludes our resume of this seasons team, Who will get your vote?
Will it be a defender that has helped us to 15 clean sheets or possibly one of our midfield dynamos. Maybe it’s one of our brilliant goal scorers?
Whoever you vote for, they’ve deserved that vote for the monumental effort they’ve put in in a Toon Shirt.
Howay the Lads!