With the lack of Newcastle signings dominating proceedings at the minute, my mind wandered to happier times.
I started to think of those Newcastle signings that had me buzzing at the time, regardless of whether they were a success when it eventually came to actually stepping out onto the pitch.
(To feature like Dean, send in your articles for our website to [email protected])
No matter how much we might claim otherwise, talking about potential signings is something that is a key part of our lives as a football fan.
In years gone by you basically relied upon the Chronicle for the rumours and then the eventual deals.
The advent of Sky Sports and the internet in particular, has totally changed the landscape of speculating on transfers.
However, what hasn’t changed is that football fans of every club still talk endlessly about, and dream of, the signings that could transform their team’s fortunes.
These are the top 10 Newcastle signings, in order, that rocked my world at the time:
Enough said. World record transfer fee, local lad and best striker on the planet…and he’d signed for Newcastle United.
For anybody under the age of 40, it is difficult to describe to you just what an impact Keegan’s arrival had on Tyneside. He may have been in the later stages of his career (aged 31 when he signed) but this was Kevin Keegan; England Captain, brilliant player, European Cup winner, twice Ballon d’Or winner…arriving at a club that was anchored in the then Division Two and going nowhere. What a lift it gave us all and the next two years weren’t bad!
The shock departure of Andy Cole halfway through the 1994/95 season had left United fans shocked. After a third place finish in Newcastle’s first Premier League season, dropping to sixth was surely a sign that things were on the slide.
However, Kevin Keegan was the man with the plan and in came (Sir) Les Ferdinand, superb striker and character. He’d tortured our defence every time we played against him and we knew Keegan was bringing in real quality that would now take United two steps forward after the Cole step back.
The signings of Demba Ba and Yohan Cabaye had proven massive successes, Newcastle were riding high and now news came in – a £10m striker to give the season extra oomph. We didn’t know much about him but googling meant we could see an excellent goals record in Germany, Mike Ashley really meant business and Newcastle were a club on the up. What could possibly go wrong in the seasons to come…
First time around it was no big deal, though of course very quickly we found out just how brilliant he was. It was the second coming in 1993 – he may have had a few more miles on the clock but Keegan pairing him with Andy Cole looked like a dream partnership and so it proved.
Again, younger visitors will wonder why he’s included but Peter Withe’s signing was quite extraordinary. Newcastle were stuck in the second tier and yet in the summer of 1978, they bought Nottingham Forest’s centre-forward, this is Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest who had just won the First Division, it was unbelievable. Withe was a class act and his career was complete when he left Newcastle (who were still in the Second Division) after two years and won both the First Division and the European Cup with Aston Villa.
When Sir Bobby brought Jonathan Woodgate to St James Park it was a massive statement of intent. Signing this quality defender was a real first for Newcastle and so it proved as he lived up to the hype – easily the best centre-back I have ever seen at United.
The initial promise of Kenny Dalglish had quickly faded, as his first full season saw the sale of Les Ferdinand and cut price replacements such as Ian Rush and Andreas Andersson. The summer of 1998 though saw a freshly minted World Cup winner signed up by Newcastle.
All conquering France beat Brazil 3-0 in the World Cup final and the centre-forward that night, Stephane Guivarc’h, had signed for Newcastle. He hadn’t stood out alongside the likes of Zidane but then who would? Sadly after only four games and one goal we’d all seen enough and he was off to Rangers.
On Christmas Day Newcastle were top of the Premier League and then in the January transfer window Sir Bobby paid £6m for 18 year old Jenas. Buying up the best young English talent was paying massive dividends for Newcastle and Jenas’ arrival was a major leap forward, especially with United investing in players to strengthen the team/squad and not just out of desperation. He proved a very good signing before tailing off under Graeme Souness but then he wasn’t alone in that.
Newcastle eventually finished fourth that 2001/02 season and the following one was undoubtedly Jenas’ best at St James Park, United ending up third in the league, Jermaine Jenas starring in the Champions League and winning PFA young player of the year.
Another mid-season signing, Newcastle top of the Premier League and the maverick Tino Asprilla added to the attacking strength of Ferdinand, Beardsley, Lee and Ginola. His debut as a sub at Boro only added to the lift his arrival gave us, Tino transforming a 1-0 home scoreline into a 2-1 away win.
Of course many many other signings proved to be great successes, as well as the long list of failures.
Players such as David Ginola, Laurent Robert, Craig Bellamy, Robert Lee, Yohan Cabaye, Andy Cole and many more, all showed us what quality they had. However, when they signed they didn’t have the impact of my top 10.
Which Newcastle signings rocked your world?