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Opinion

1993, 2010 and 2017 – Who would you rather have had on the pitch for Newcastle United?

2 years ago
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It’s fair to say that when it comes to Newcastle United, emotions have been running high this summer.  Good job it’s all on cyber space and not in the Red Lion bar.

The truth is, it’s quite possible that Newcastle fans have always been divided in their opinions – but we simply were not aware of it.  These days we all have the opportunity to air our views to a much wider audience, than the four lads they sit with in the club.

Well thank God the time for talking has now passed, the truth will now be unfolding.

Is this team going to be good enough?

That’s such an ambiguous statement.

Good enough for what exactly? That comes down to the reader. What do you want them to be good enough for?  One thing is for certain, your expectations will significantly affect your mood!

For what it’s worth, I would be happy with a season that fell somewhere between the last two promotion seasons in 93-94 and 10-11.  One was a totally unexpected 3rd position while the other was mid-table mediocrity 12th.

I’ve been looking at the teams we had in place in the August of those two years and have asked myself the question, how does this squad match up to that of those two?

Which would you rather have on the pitch?

Goalkeeper  

Pavel, Steve Harper, Rob Elliot

Pav would be my choice; even though I’m not convinced he is the best keeper.

I just really liked him as much as a person than as a player. Somehow he epitomised the team he represented, despite being between the sticks.

However, if we were to grade them, then Rob Elliot is probably within a hair’s breath of the other two. I don’t see a lot between them.

Centre-backs: 

Kevin Scott & Steve Howey, Colo & Williamson,  Clark & Lejeune

This is difficult.

None of the pairings would find their way into a greatest team eleven but they have all played a significant amount of games for the club (the new Frenchman apart).

Kevin Scott would move on to Spurs to be replaced by Darren Peacock but at the start of the season he was the number five . Colo would go on to have a really good couple of seasons but my judgement is affected by his miserable end.

So if I can’t mix and match, then this year’s pair could be the best choice. Possibly.

Central midfield    

Robert Lee & Lee Clark, Joey Barton & Cheick Tiote, Isaac Haydon & Jonjo Shelvey

My Keegan era bias says it’s Lee & Clark but I’m not sure I’m right. For me this is the hardest to choose.

Which partnership worked/works the best?  There are a few names there that didn’t have that much pace but brought many other attributes to the table.

So in a fantasy team, the lads from the 90s just edge it, but I do believe that an on form Shelvey and Hayden can be a very decent pairing.

Wide

Scott Sellars & Nikos Papavasiliou,  Wayne Routledge, & Jonas,  Matt Ritchie & Atsu (Murphy)

Scott Sellars was a little gem. His mate on the other side was not.  Routledge never really did it for us and yet has gone on to spend seven years mostly playing top flight football elsewhere.

Jonas was a great servant but I don’t believe he can be classed as one of our greatest wide players.

So by default, I guess I would rather have Ritchie and Atsu out there than either of the other pairs (Sellars and Gillespie would be another matter).

Strikers    

Andy Cole & Peter Beardsley, Andy Carroll & Kevin Nolan,  Mitro  & Dwight Gayle

There is nothing to discuss here.  Mitro & Gayle every time.

For those of you slow on the uptake, that’s me being sarcastic.

Not only are Cole and Beardsley the best of this bunch, I would argue that they are the best front two we have ever had. They were simply a match made in heaven, however, Rafa’s tactics make this section totally irrelevant.

So after all this, I really am a fence sitting, splinters in my backside, fan.

I don’t believe we are heading for a Sunderland type 20 point season but I also don’t see how we are strong enough to get above 12th.

My massive fear is the team not scoring goals in the games we have to win (Brighton, Huddersfield, Watford etc).

We have to bring in an additional striker(s) ASAP.

That dream pair of Cole & Beardsley actually didn’t start against Spurs in 93 due to Neil Ruddock smashing Pedro’s face in at an Anfield testimonial.  That meant playing the likes of Malcolm Allen and Alex Mathie covering until he returned.

You could get away with that in the nineties but we won’t in 2017.

(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])

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