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Cheick Tiote leaving was the last real link with that 2011/12 Newcastle team

4 years ago

There may be no matches being played for a month or two, so if you choose to do so you can switch off from Newcastle United for a bit of a break.

Of course most of us are never really able to do that, or indeed want to, instead regularly scanning the trickle of news and transfer market fairytales from late May onwards.

Monday afternoon of course was anything but a quiet news day for Newcastle supporters, though sadly it was for all the wrong reasons.

Cheick Tiote had collapsed during a training session with Beijing Enterprises FC and nothing could be done to save him. The midfielder tragically dying at the age of only 30.

When Pavel Srnicek passed away at the age of only 47 it was a massive shock but to get news that this had happened to a 30 year professional footballer, was even more stunning.

Like every other former player he had a varied career at Newcastle United but in the near seven years at St James Park there were plenty moments that stick in your mind.

The bottom line was that when Cheick Tiote was on top of his game, he was very good.

By accident or design, the club had stumbled upon what could often look one of the Premier League’s best midfield partnerships. Cheick Tiote covering every blade of grass and giving Yohan Cabaye a platform to perform.

The Ivory Coast international did well in his first season when brought in by Chris Hughton, then in 2011/12, Tiote was one of the key players who delivered fifth place.

Arguably though, it was maybe the next season when Cheick Tiote was even more effective. Newcastle beating Chelsea at home and the likes of Tottenham and Manchester United (first time in over 40 years) away.

Once again, Alan Pardew had maybe just stumbled on a winning formula, as loan striker Loic Remy gave a focus for players such as Tiote, Cabaye and Sissoko to all perform at their best.

Yohan Cabaye’s departure in mid-season saw that season stopped in its tracks after Newcastle had looked poised to get close to that 2011/12 season’s performance.

Cheick Tiote went on to make his highest number of Premier League appearances (33) in that 2013/14 season but neither Tiote nor his teammates were ever quite at the same level after that blow.

When Tiote headed off to China in February, it was also losing the last real link with that 2011/12 team, as Tim Krul was off in Holland on loan for the year.

The comeback and goal against Arsenal will always get the headlines but the derby matches were also memorable, there was no backing off from Cheick in those matches. His first two games against Sunderland being the 5-1 Halloween special and Ryan Taylor’s over the wall match.

Some great memories and Cheick Tiote was a key part of them.


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