Alan Pardew Eclipsing Sir Bobby
In the wake of Alan Pardew and Newcastle United’s magnificent season which consisted of a Champions League challenge right up to the final day, of which even the most optimistic Newcastle fan did not see coming, it brought back memories of the late Sir Bobby Robson’s Newcastle side of the early noughties. For three consecutive seasons between 2001 and 2004, contested not only Champions League places but even the Barclays Premier League itself. With this in mind it seemed fitting to match up the two sides to see the similarities & differences and perhaps the potential that Pardew’s boys have with this in mind.
It seems almost laughable now that Robson was sacked for a fifth placed finish given the fact that since his sacking, no manager, until Pardew’s exploits of the latest campaign, had finished as high as fifth. From Souness to Roeder, Allardyce to Kinnear, all came and went and all registered mediocre, bottom half finishes, the one exception being Roeder’s seventh place finish in the 2005/2006 season. Therefore, it seems only fair to match up and compare the latest Newcastle United side to finish in the top five of the premiership with the last Newcastle United side to do so:
Shay Given 9/10
A loyal servant to Newcastle throughout his twelve years on Tyneside and a fantastic keeper who will go down as a club legend. Given registered some 462 appearances for the club, bettered only by Frank Hudspeth and Jimmy Lawrence on the all-time record list. A remarkably consistent keeper who prided himself on clean sheets and perhaps was unfortunate not to ply his trade in front of a meaner defence.
Tim Krul 8/10
One of the many positives to come out of Newcastle’s successful season, Krul firmly established himself as the first choice and flourished throughout the campaign with a string of world class saves and a credible 15 clean sheets. Is still young and so therefore comparisons with Given can be said to be naïve, however definitely a promising looking player for the years ahead.
Aaron Hughes 7/10
A modest, unassuming full back, however much like the majority of Robson’s side of the time, was young and full of energy. Achieved a respectable 205 Premiership appearances for the club before his departure as one of the cull under Souness. Went on to have a successful top flight career with Aston Villa and then Fulham, where he is currently club captain.
Danny Simpson 6/10
Perhaps the weak link of the current magpies team as he appears to be inept when in possession. However, has nonetheless had a solid season producing a number of goal line clearances. His immediate future appears to be in doubt as a result of ongoing, unsuccessful contract negotiations.
Olivier Bernard 7/10
A youthful and pacey full back who had the ability to support in attack and chip in with valuable goals. Was one of a number of Robson’s acquisitions to be sold off by Souness.
Davide Santon 7/10
A full-back who experienced his first season in the Premier League under Pardew and displayed admirable qualities both in defence and attack. Unlike Simpson, is very comfortable and confident in possession and will only get better.
Jonathon Woodgate 7/10
A top quality centre-half who was signed for £9million in January of the 2002/2003 season. His time on Tyneside was unfortunately disrupted far too often by injury, which contributed to his transfer to Real Madrid in the summer of 2004. When fit however, was an international class centre-half who commanded the Newcastle defence commendably.
Andy O’Brien 6/10
An honest, hard working centre half who could perhaps be said to have been the weak link in Bobby’s side. Lacked pace and made mistakes but was a likeable character and good servant to the club, meaning he was admired by the fans for his hard work. Was yet another one to be sold by Souness.
Fabricio Coloccini 9/10
A class act. Has had a tremendous season, illustrated by his inclusion in the Barclays Premier League Team of the Year. Indispensible to Pardew, due not only to his skills in defence and reading of the game but also his leadership as captain of the club. His signing of a new four year contract in January was of vital importance. Says everything about him that he was Pardew’s player of the season.
Mike Williamson 6/10
Could be said to be in the side primarily because of the Achilles injury sustained by Steven Taylor and lack of cover, but has nevertheless performed adequately when called upon. Like Simpson, can be seen as a liability at times, especially when in possession, however has had a solid season by and large on Tyneside.
Tomorrow it will be the turn Alan Pardew’s and Sir Bobby’s midfielders and strikers.
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