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Newcastle Championship Season Team v The French Revolution

8 years ago

Just how good was the Newcastle Championship season team? Frank Fforde investigates past v present.

The other night I read a tweet for which a response in 140 characters was never going to do it.

‘Hard to see those that made Newcastle United the club what it currently is, treated poorly. Those there in bad times shown no loyalty. Nolan, Barton, Carroll, Harper, Shola to an extent and Gutierrez. I don’t think NUFC should forget about the Championship season. Being honest, I’d rather have that workhorse team back over the French fancy one.’

My personal short answer was: “One of the stupidest things I’ve ever read.” So here is my long answer.

For one thing, none of those players were treated poorly. Nolan and Barton both had the remainder of their contracts paid to them on signing for West Ham and QPR respectively. I don’t know why this person also neglected to mention Luis Enrique who also worked hard for us and was let go.

Barton in particular worked hard. But that was BECAUSE of the loyalty the club showed him after he was jailed. Andy Carroll wasn’t treated poorly. He signed for a huge club on huge wages. We didn’t want him to. If his price hadn’t been so inflated he’d still be with us on a lucrative contract. Plus, other players such as Coloccini and Hatem Ben Arfa would not have been rewarded with generous contracts to keep them at the club. And let’s not forget Steve Harper had a testimonial as reward for his excellent career at Newcastle (with all proceeds to charity).

Another point to make is, and I’m sorry to say it, those players aren’t particularly good. I was very upset when Kevin Nolan and Andy Carroll were sold, but look where they are now. And Barton’s antics in trying to injure two players while getting sent off for violent conduct just gave me enormous relief that he wasn’t ours. And he also isn’t very good. And I’m sorry to break it to some people but I think Tim Krul is a better goalkeeper than Harper.

As for Jonas, could you please put away the rose-tinted glasses. He scored 11 goals in five years. He was good and worked hard but he wasn’t that good. I personally wouldn’t swap Cabaye, Sissoko or Ben Arfa out of the starting XI for Jonas.

‘I don’t think NUFC should forget about the Championship season’, I quite agree on this point. We won a trophy. We finished top. But we also had Peter Lovenkrands and Nile Ranger leading the attack. We had a player in the regular squad who played in midfield AND NEVER SCORED IN HIS ENTIRE NEWCASTLE CAREER! (Alan Smith). We were a spectacular Championship side but we would have been a pretty lousy premiership one with that group of players.

And so to the most idiotic thing ‘I’d rather have that workhorse team back over the French fancy one’. Words almost fail me on this one. Someone thought they would rather have Joey the psycho, Alan ‘shotshy’ Smith, Kevin ‘the free scoring boy wonder with a temper’ Nolan and Jonas with his average of two goals a year – than Sissoko, Cabaye, Gouffran and Anita. And don’t we all want Pardew to re-sign Peter Lovenkrands to take over from mister-fancy-goals Loic Remy?!

The suggestion that our new players are more flair than workrate is utterly dishonest. You can’t accuse any of them of not working hard. Look how hard Yoan Gouffran works. Not to mention Debuchy or Santon. The workhorse side of the Championship season would never have won at Old Trafford. That is because the current side works hard as well as having technical ability.

This opinion that ‘working hard’ is the number one quality that any player can aspire to is pure baloney. I hear it so often and mostly from England fans who think a double step-over is a foreign invention and therefore not to be trusted. ‘Working hard’ is often just another term for someone who runs around a lot and occasionally puts in a crunching tackle. The year Ronaldinho won the Ballon d’Or (quite rightly) he didn’t do either of those things. Some might remember a player called Laurent Robert who didn’t have the greatest workrate (to put it mildly) yet he still scored more goals in one season than Jonas did in five.

I will miss Spiderman. I still miss Andy Carroll. But times change and we need a striker, if not two, and they don’t come cheap. Were we to bring in Tom Ince and have him be the player he is hyped to be, it would be brilliant. And if he scores hatfuls of goals without tracking back, making late tackles or covering every blade of grass, I couldn’t give a monkey’s.

Grafting is a big part of the English game but not as big as getting the ball into the golden rectangle with three metal bars. That takes class.

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