Kevin Keegan’s Entertainers v Alan Pardew’s Select 11 – A Reality Check
Yes that season was a blast but I do think it created a lot of negatives.
The main negative was probably that Mike Ashley thought he had reinvented the wheel and that sustained success could be achieved without regularly topping up the talent and building (spending) on top of what you have got.
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The other big negative was the impact it had on a large number of fans, they went way over the top on a lot of our players, believing them to e capable of a lot more than they could deliver in reality, long-term.
The truth of that season is that there were a lot of spectacular moments, with goals flying in from all over, with Ba in the first half and Cisse in the second half of the season seemingly incapable of missing a lot of the time.
The main reality though was that with rare exceptions we never really controlled matches, at best we usually matched the opposition and then relied on a bit of inspiration from the likes of Cabaye, Ben Arfa, Ba or Cisse to win the three points. The general play was good but rarely did we batter the opposition into a state of surrender, as in the days of Kevin Keegan…
Comparing players from different teams/eras is very trick and of course subjective but I thought it would be a decent exercise to compare Keegan’s team of 1995/96 that almost won the Premier League, with our current strongest eleven now – marks out of 10…
7 Shaka Hislop 9 Tim Krul
7 Warren Barton 7 Mathieu Debuchy
8 Steve Howey 8 Fabricio Coloccini
7 Darren Peacock 7 Steven Taylor
8 John Beresford 8 Davide Santon
9 Lee Clark 7 Cheick Tiote
10 Robert Lee 8 Yohan Cabaye
9 David Ginola 7 Moussa Sissoko
9 Keith Gillespie 8 Hatem Ben Arfa
10 Peter Beardsley 7 Yoan Gouffran
10 Les Ferdinand 8 Papiss Cisse
The ratings for that ‘So Close’ team of 1996 are a snapshot in time just as the current ones for Alan Pardew’s eleven, so for example Keith Gillespie never came close before or since to what he achieved that season. While other players such as Lee Clark and John Beresford also reached their pinnacles. Of course players such as Beardsley, Ferdinand and Lee were class years after year.
When it comes to the current players then many of them are capable of moving up another mark if they can get to their optimum and stay there, we have seen enough of players such as Santon, Cabaye, Sissoko, Ben Arfa and Cisse to know they can give so much more over a season.
The good news is that the back five is rated two points higher than their 1996 counterparts, though the overall scores of 94 v 84 need some closing.
We have a lot of good players who with the right additions are capable of producing a great team.
Can Newcastle United bridge the gap?
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