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Opinion

A Newcastle United team and 7 subs who are better than they were remembered at the time

6 months ago
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While taking my mind off the current crisis, I read Friday’s article on The Mag where Mike Williamson was talking about his time in the Newcastle United team.

Now he was never a player that was going to tear up any trees, he wasn’t even a great defender, but crucially he didn’t let us down.

He falls into a bracket of players that most clubs sign from time to time that are cheap and serve the club without being the massive name that most fans remember.

This got me thinking. Which players are better remembered in the years after they’ve left as opposed to those that they spent at the club?

The following is a run down of a starting Newcastle United team (plus subs) that for various reasons didn’t dazzle, didn’t sparkle, or simply passed through the club with little or no impact but with the passing of time, could be looked at as having being a little better than history would suggest.

Now I’m sure you’ll have your own, and I’m sure you’ll disagree with some, but let’s not just slaughter bang average players as being totally rubbish.

We aren’t talking about players that were totally atrocious or massive big money flops. I’m not going to be naming an Albert Luque or Michael Owen. The following bunch are not to be confused with Andreas Andersson, Shefki Kuqi, Silvio Maric, Stephane Guivarch, Marcelino, Des Hamilton or the Jean Alain Boumsongs of this world.

Above all else, it’s my team anyway, so I’ll ask you to give them a fair trial.

So here we are: The Better Than They Were Remembered At The Time XI in a 5-3-2 formation.

Steve Harper

This was a tricky one as Harps was a good enough goalkeeper in his own right. That just emphasises the fact that if it weren’t for Shay Given (who was excellent and hardly ever injured0 Steve Harper would have been our number one for many a year. Would have had a great career with another club if he had moved.

Didier Domi

Signed by Ruud Gullit, Domi was a decent left back but was even better at charging down the left wing.

His two pinpoint crosses for Alan Shearer in an FA Cup tie away at Blackburn and a carbon copy effort at home to Manchester United stick long in the memory. Systematic of a few Frenchmen who came to the club who really didn’t want to be here.

Danny Simpson

One of a few players that got very little fanfare for arriving and was hardly cried about when he left. Part of the defence that finished 5th in 2011/12 and since leaving can claim to be a Premier League title winner.

Nikos Dabizas

One of a few players signed by Kenny Dalglish who proved very useful after the Scot left. A centre back who famously stuck one in the mackems net on Wearside in a 1-0 Newcastle win.

Scored a goal or two and was generally a limited but likeable player. Went on to win the European Championship with unfashionable Greece in 2004.

Titus Bramble

Dear oh dear. Titus, Titus, Titus. Where do we begin.

Another young defender with everything going for him but was unfortunately cursed with the inevitable ‘Titus moment’. Could play well for 89 minutes but somewhere there would be an horrendous rick that would inevitably cost his team.

Andy O’Brien

An unheralded signing by Sir Bobby who much like Nikos Dabizas, stuck one in the mackems net in a 1-1 draw on Wearside. Got another goal in our famous 3-1 win down at Highbury.

Looking at my three centre backs you may notice one thing. For all their faults, they all played for the club when we finished 3rd and 4th in the Premier League. For that alone they can’t be that bad.

Scott Parker

I was personally really excited when we signed him from Chelsea.

He was the poor man’s Frank Lampard and a player that (if played right) could have been somewhere near as good as his ex-Chelsea team mate. Sadly, he was played in a more defensive position and his sideways and backward passes were hardly ground breaking and progressive. A missed opportunity.

Mo Diame

Was never really a fan to be fair as he often came across clumsy and dare I say it, lazy.

Sadly, he would have slotted into our current side quite well as that was his game, to break up opposition play and give it to more creative players to do their stuff. Admit it, he would have worked well with Almiron and Saint-Maximin.

Ayoze Perez

Contentious one here.

He probably should have stayed at the club as he’s been found out a little down at Leicester. Was underappreciated by many inside St James Park and his fingers in ears celebration was ill advised.

You can’t argue his goals contributed massively to us staying up over the last two seasons. He did a job for former manager Rafa Benitez and was signed for a pittance at £1.5m. Another whose value would be appreciated by many after he left, most notably the club owner.

Obafemi Martins

Another missed opportunity.

Best remembered for a thunderbolt down at Spurs in a 3-2 win, he left Tyneside with roughly a 1 in 3 goals per game ratio and I honestly believe that he was one player that could have stood a chance at getting close to Alan Shearer’s club record. Certainly didn’t disgrace the number 9 shirt.

Leon Best

Scoring a hat-trick against West Ham at St James’ was probably as good as it got for him but he certainly nicked a few goals.

Compared to eventual first choice strikers Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse he certainly looks the odd man out but I wouldn’t have anything said against him for it.

Subs:

Mike Williamson

Along with Simpson, he was part of the defence that got Newcastle into Europe in 2012. A ‘Steady Eddie’ who didn’t let the club down at a bargain price.

Andy Griffin

Best remembered for a goal against Juventus in the Champions League. A no nonsense right-back signed by Dalglish.

James Perch

When all around were losing their heads, Perch came through and never let himself or the club down. A string of good displays earned him the name ‘Perchinio’ from fans.

Hugo Viana

Now here’s one.

You can start off by saying he was a few million pound overpriced but he was more suited to the slower European football which was proved by some good displays in the Champions League.

You could also say he came into the Premier League and looked out of sorts while his Portuguese compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo flourished.

Peter Lovenkrands

‘He came on a free from Germany’ shouted the fans. Most of his good work came in our Championship season but he was a decent servant and didn’t let us down. Signed 10 years too late.

Charles N’Zogbia

I honestly thought we’d unearthed a talent. Questions were raised over his attitude but he could certainly whip a cross in. Infamously called ‘Insomnia’ by JFK and understandably took the huff with the way the club was being ran soon after.

Gabriel Obertan

Bound to be a divisive one but very similar to N’Zogbia.

He got some stick (Ok, mainly for not being particularly good) but every now and then he would stick a cracking cross in which Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse both benefitted from. A flying winger that could have been moulded into something better than he showed.

So there you have it.

A right mix of players who either shouldn’t have been signed or should have been seen as greater than they were perceived in their time at the club.

Argue amongst yourselves over the merits (or lack of) of the above but looking back I can’t say they were as bad as some who have played in the black and white shirt, they’re just not particularly very good.

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