Cheick Tiote Leads A Champions League Spine At Newcastle United
New Magpies Spine Can Match 2002/03 Champions League Qualifiers
Tim Krul, ‘Iron’ Mike Williamson, Cheick Tiote and Loic Remy are the new backbone of Newcastle United and recent results prove it’s a winning combination.
All 6ft plus (I’m giving Tiote the extra inch for his hair), they are a strong central framework on which the current Newcastle team is built.
I first met Tim on the Carlisle United Xmas night out about 5 years ago and was impressed then by his sheer determination and forceful confidence. Having only played that one game in Palermo with Newcastle at the time, he was absolutely adamant that he would acquire the no.1 shirt at St. James’ Park. It’s an ambition that he made happen and explains the Fraser Forster sale because I imagine he was of the same mindset as Krul, all players, especially keepers, want to play first team football.
Within 18 months the goalkeeping shirt was his and it has been ever since to Newcastle’s massive benefit. If the Spurs game was his best ever performance and certainly one of the best I’ve ever seen from a Newcastle keeper, he has been a rock between the post for the last 3 seasons with only his kicking keeping him from being the complete stopper. Harper suffered a similar weakness, new keeping coach needed?
A strong goalkeeper is the foundation of any great team.
‘Iron’ Mike Williamson
The forgotten man from last season, Williamson has made a remarkable comeback from 4th choice centre back, into the defensive rock of the Newcastle first team.
In fact, the Premier League season defensively can be divided perfectly into pre-Williamson and post-Williamson ‘eras’ from his 1st appearance as a sub half-time at Everton. In the first five and a half games without him, Newcastle conceded 11 goals and in the next five with him, Newcastle have conceded just four.
He demonstrated his commitment to Newcastle in turning down the chance of a switch to Cardiff City in the summer – unlike Fabricio Coloccini who is again seeking to abandon ship as Winter emerges – and is reaping the benefits, slowly becoming a fans favourite.
Time to pass on the armband permanently to…
Captain Cheick Tiote
He’d be the first name on my team sheet every game and embodies everything a Captain of Newcastle should be. He’s committed, passionate, all-action, hard as nails and leads by example, raising the intensity of the team’s performance to new levels.
I always thought his discipline was unfairly criticised and his reputation certainly preceded him on more than one occasion after he turned Man United down.
He’s emerged from the other side of a difficult season last year as a more determined, controlled figure and after flicking Anita out the team as easily as he would a shoulder charge, he’s back where he belongs – protecting the Newcastle back four.
Loic Remy tops the Goalscorers Influence Efficiency rating table in The Premier League, based on a striker’s contribution and importance to their team.
Remy’s 7 Premier League goals from 27 shots (16% of NUFC’s 166 total shots) makes up 47% of Newcastle’s total goals (15 so far) at a conversion rate of 25%, giving him a GIE of 88.9%.
Comparatively, Robin Van Persie’s score of 83% GIE at Man United makes him Remy’s closest rival. His permanent signature and like-for-like back-up are essential in January.
The Sky Is The Limit
Glenn Roeder spoke in The Chronicle this week of the importance of being “unrealistic” in football sometimes and having beaten Chelsea and Spurs to show their true worth, if Newcastle avoid complacency and keep Remy in January, The Champions League is an eminent possibility and in a wide-open Premier League season, anything can happen…
You can follow Stuart on Twitter @ultrastartime
To view all Newcastle v Norwich betting click HERE (Prices can fluctuate up and down)
If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to [email protected]