If at the start of this season I had given you 10 guesses as to who would be Newcastle United player of the year, you would still never have picked Ciaran Clark.
With Jamaal Lascelles and Chancel Mbemba finishing the Premier League season off so well under Rafa Benitez, they looked nailed on to be first choice in the second tier.
Then Championship battle hardened Grant Hanley who was also Blackburn Captain, came in as cover and to compete against that duo.
With Paul Dummett also able to play there, and it arguably being his best position, centre-back seemed the last place Rafa would strengthen further.
So when Ciaran Clark came in from Villa, Newcastle fans were generally puzzled.
Villa supporters predictably slagged him off as a person and for his ability but that didn’t really tell us a lot as their bitterness was always going to mean negative comments, especially when Clark said it was great to be moving to a much bigger club.
Nevertheless, once he got his chance Ciaran Clark has been outstanding, easily Newcastle’s best defender all season and by some distance, in my opinion and seemingly most of you as well, also the player of the season.
Having also scored in the wins over QPR (away) and Brentford (home), as well as the 2-2 draw against Bristol City, his three goals make him the highest scoring defender this season for Newcastle and it also means, he has scored two more than Isaac Hayden and three more than Jack Colback.
However, what about the stats of when he has and hasn’t played, does that back up the general perception of his importance?
Ciaran Clark has started 32 Championship games so far, in those matches it has been 22 wins, 5 draws and 5 losses.
In 9 Championship games he has missed, it has been 4 wins, 1 draw and 4 defeats.
Collecting 71 out of a possible 96 points with Clark, it works out at 2.22 points per game, which over a 46 match season would equal a total of 102 points.
Collecting 13 out of a possible 27 points without Clark, it works out at 1.44 points per game, which over a 46 match season would equal a total of 66 points.
As well as these stats above, the naked eye tells you that Newcastle United massively miss Ciaran Clark, as his pace, ability and composure also helps cover for the weaknesses of Lascelles and Dummett in particular.
For those outside of Tyneside, the idea of Ciaran Clark being a bigger miss than either Dwight Gayle or Jonjo Shelvey might seem astonishing, but that is the reality for me.
Fingers crossed we see him back ASAP.
(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])