Newcastle United Premier League strikers ranked worst to best – Final part six (10-1)
Ranking all of the Newcastle United Premier League strikers from worst to best.
For every Shearer, Ferdinand or Beardsley who has delighted the Toon Army, there has been a Riviere, Guivarc’h or Slimani causing dismay.
With goal scorers placed on a pedestal by the club, I decided to undertake the mission of ranking all of those who have appeared in at least one PL match.
PART SIX (The top ten)
Hello and welcome to the final part of our series ranking all of Newcastle United’s Premier League strikers from worst to best.
A reminder that this series is not looking at the player’s value for money (or lack thereof), rather their top-flight league performances as a striker.
In the case of few appearances, the player may be ranked higher than someone who was useless for a prolonged period.
Today sees us enter the elite, with the top ten positions. I’m sure this is bound to meet with some conflicting views, and I welcome debate from Mag readers. I’d also love to hear/read your Mount Rushmore (top four) NUFC Premier League strikers.
Please let me know if you’d like a similar multi-part article for other positions, and I’ll get on the case.
10. Faustino Asprilla (48 games, 9 goals)
Enthralling Colombian forward who arrived amidst a whirlwind of fur, snow and Tabloid conjecture in 1996, concluding his £6.7m move from Parma as Kevin Keegan labelled him “one of the four best strikers in the world.”
Tino played a pivotal role in turning defeat into victory on debut, arriving from the bench against Middlesbrough with his side 1-0 down (having earlier sunk a couple of glasses of wine with lunch), the bandy-legged maverick toyed with Boro’s backline, creating an equaliser with a pinpoint cross to set Newcastle on the way to a 2-1 away win.
Often cited as the reason for Newcastle’s 1995-96 title challenge disintegration, his form fluctuated between half-a.sed and world class, with most magical moments reserved for European nights, none more so than a stunning hat-trick against Barcelona in the Champions League, within four months of which he’d forced a £6.2m return to Parma.
9. Callum Wilson (37 games, 18 goals)
The club reneged on its transfer philosophy of only signing players aged 26 and under by spending £20m to secure the services of 28-year-old Wilson, a striker who had shown pedigree with both Bournemouth and England.
A scoring debut against West Ham was a sign of things to come, although injuries dogged his inaugural season in the North-East, which would certainly have yielded far more than a dozen goals if he hadn’t spent a third of it on the treatment table.
Awarded the number nine shirt for 2021-22, Wilson has continued to sniff out goals despite his team’s desperate plight, remaining one of the few players of genuine quality within a lacklustre squad.
8. Obafemi Martins (88 games, 28 goals)
A £10.7m signing from Inter Milan in 2006, the ageless Nigerian forward made an unremarkable start to life at his new club before a smart finish at West Ham and hot streak in Europe helped him to settle in.
Never afraid to shoot from distance – Freddie Shepherd revealing Martins had a significant goalscoring bonus in his contract – a wondergoal against Tottenham was clocked at close to 85mph, one of the ten hardest shots on record at the time.
Continuing to score at a rate of a goal every three games, taking penalties with both feet and celebrating with trademark acrobatics, Oba made clear his intention to depart following relegation in 2009 – his wish granted when Wolfsburg paid around £9m for his services.
7. Papiss Cisse (117 games, 37 goals)
Cisse’s first dozen games as a Magpie were the stuff of fantasy, kicked off by a picture-perfect half-volley winner against Aston Villa on debut, the Senegalese striker having entered the fray as an early replacement for Leon Best.
Not content with that introduction, the £9.5m mid-season buy from SC Freiburg lit up the Premier League for the next few months, scoring 13 times in his first 12 games, including the goal of the season at Stamford Bridge.
The following campaign saw Alan Pardew reassign Cisse to a wide role in order to appease the frustrated Demba Ba.
Struggling to recapture the erstwhile magic, Papiss rediscovered a semblance of form when Ba departed in January.
His powers on the decline, Cisse departed following relegation in 2016, the skyrocket of early months having remained grounded for chunks of his tenure.
6. Demba Ba (54 games, 29 goals)
Having performed admirably as West Ham were relegated, Ba was available on a free transfer, with several clubs turning him down over fears one of his knees was a “ticking time bomb”.
The powerful frontman struggled initially, deemed, in part, a result of fasting during Ramadan, finding his feet with hat-tricks against Blackburn Rovers and Stoke City.
Netting a memorable volley against Manchester United, Ba’s scoring dried up upon the arrival of Papiss Cisse, although his selfless efforts as part of a front three with Cisse and Hatem Ben Arfa helped the team romp to an unexpected fifth place finish.
His loose-tongued agent was soon talking up a move for his client, not helped by Newcastle’s struggles in 2012-13 and the revelation of a £7.5m release clause. Chelsea pounced and Ba walked away without the need for coercion.
5. Craig Bellamy (93 games, 28 goals)
Sir Bobby Robson had long admired gobby Welsh forward Bellamy, and with an ill-fated spell at Coventry coming to an end following relegation, the legendary manager secured a £6.5m deal in the summer of 2001.
The move was instrumental in an upturn of fortunes for the side – Bellamy’s searing pace combining with Shearer’s clinical finishing to form a partnership simple in composition but almost impossible to repel when in full flow.
Although injury-prone, “Bellers” was an outstanding footballer who had become more reliable in front of goal by the time the 2004-05 season rolled around.
The sacking of father figure Robson saw the Bellamy express fully leave the rails: refusing to play out wide, telling teammates he would fake an injury, sending vulgar texts to Shearer and being dragged across an airport floor by John Carver – the exit door looming larger with each petulant indiscretion, Blackburn Rovers stealing him for a paltry £5m.
4. Andy Cole (58 PL games, 43 goals)
The £1.75m signing of an unheralded 21-year-old striker from Bristol City in 1993 raised eyebrows, but “Cole the Goal” diffused any lingering doubts with 12 goals in as many Championship games as Kevin Keegan’s Mags secured promotion.
A club record 41 goals were added to that total the following season, with 34 of those scored in the Premier League and many laid on by strike partner Peter Beardsley (more on him later).
Growing tension between Cole and Keegan saw the star man sold to title rivals Manchester United the following season, with £6.25m and Keith Gillespie winging their way to Tyneside, KK later admitting his original plan had been to pair Cole with Les Ferdinand in what would have been a fearsome frontline.
3. Les Ferdinand (68 games, 41 goals)
“Sir Les” sneaks above Cole due to his all-round game and connection with the fans.
Newcastle fought off competition from Aston Villa to secure Ferdinand’s signature after a £6m fee had been agreed with QPR.
Slotting in instantly, the big man netted 20 times in his first 19 games for the club and won the PFA Player of the Year award, going slightly off the boil after Christmas to end with 29 goals as Newcastle blew a 12-point lead at the backend of the 1995-96 season.
The following summer saw him lose his number nine shirt to Alan Shearer, accepting number ten after his request for 99 was turned down. The two legends formed one of the club’s greatest ever strike partnerships, accumulating 49 goals in all competitions.
Kenny Dalglish unfathomably decided to sell Les to Spurs for £6m at the culmination of the campaign, farcically asking his agent to cancel the deal at the eleventh hour when Shearer picked up a serious pre-season injury. It was too late, with neither player nor club ascending the same heights again.
2. Peter Beardsley (129 PL games, 47 goals)
Already a club legend by the mid-1980s, Peter Beardsley’s first spell as a Magpie had seen him score 61 goals in 147 league matches before departing for a British record £1.9m to Liverpool in 1987.
His second spell at his beloved hometown club came in 1993, when Kevin Keegan persuaded Sir John Hall to spend £1.5m by convincing him Beardsley was 30 rather than 32-years of age!
Neil Ruddock’s elbow delayed his Toon re-debut, but it proved worth the wait as Beardsley and Cole gelled immediately, scoring 55 Premier League goals between them – still a record 28 seasons later.
His partnership with Les Ferdinand was another treat for supporters, while his final season at the club – when he celebrated his 36th birthday – saw him prosper in a variety of roles before Kenny Dalglish decided he was too old and replaced him with zestful stripling Ian Rush.
1. Alan Shearer (303 games, 148 goals)
The Lion of Gosforth snubbed moves to Barcelona, Juventus, Liverpool and, most notably, Manchester United, to fulfil his boyhood dream of playing for his cherished Newcastle United in 1996.
A world record £15m fee (plus £600k interest) was agreed with Blackburn Rovers, as the 25-year-old sheet metal worker’s son came home following his exploits at Euro ’96, where he won the golden boot as England reached the semi-final stage.
The 1996-97 season was business as usual, with Shearer scoring 25 league goals to win his third Premier League golden boot in addition to being voted PFA Player of the Year for the second time in three seasons.
A horrific ankle injury in 1997-98 pre-season stole half a yard of pace, and despite two consecutive FA Cup finals in 1998 and 1999, it wasn’t until Sir Bobby Robson arrived that Shearer returned to top form, managing 30 goals in a season for the only time as a Newcastle player in 1999-2000, including a record equalling five in one match against Sheffield Wednesday.
The goals flowed for a decade as Shearer broke Jackie Milburn’s longstanding club record by rippling the net on 206 occasions, the final strike a penalty against arch-rivals Sunderland, although he limped on to score the winning penalty at his star-studded testimonial the following month.
A statue of the great man can be seen outside the club he loves, while he has stated he wouldn’t swap his time at Newcastle for trophies with another side.
(To read the first five parts of this countdown of Newcastle United Premier League strikers, for 60-51 go HERE, then for 50-41 it is HERE, whilst 40-31 you can find HERE, then 30-21 can be found HERE, then finally 20-11 are HERE)
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