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Opinion

3 Newcastle United players named in this North East Team of the year

2 weeks ago
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Which Newcastle United players would get in your North East team of the year?

A bit tricky to be honest if you are a Newcastle fan, as most of us will see very little of the region’s other teams.

The bare facts on our local rivals this past year of 2021 are that whilst NUFC haven’t been great in the Premier League, next highest were Middlesbrough who are struggling to get anywhere near close to getting out of the Championship.

After that you next have to go down as far as Sunderland in the third tier of English football.

In the second half of last season (from 1 January onwards), Sunderland only won 13 of 29 League One games, this season they are second behind Rotherham, whilst Wigan are only four points behind with three games in hand.

Then you have Hartlepool 15th in League Two and Darlington are currently 14th in National League North, the same division as Gateshead (who are in second but with two games in hand and only two points off the top).

The simple thing for many fans would be to say that Newcastle are the only north east club in the top tier, so they must have the best players…

However, some local journalists do have an advantage as they have to often cover more than one of the region’s clubs.

One of those is Scott Wilson of the Northern Echo, who has picked his North East Team of the year (2021) and included three Newcastle players….

TOMMY TAYLOR (DARLINGTON)

ISAIAH JONES (MIDDLESBROUGH)

CALLUM DOYLE (SUNDERLAND)

PADDY McNAIR (MIDDLESBROUGH)

DAVID FERGUSON (HARTLEPOOL)

DAN NEIL (SUNDERLAND)

MATT CROOKS (MIDDLESBROUGH)

ALLAN SAINT-MAXIMIN (NEWCASTLE)

Newcastle have a history of fielding mercurial French wingers, and for all that the likes of David Ginola, Laurent Robert and Hatem Ben Arfa will have their champions, Allan Saint-Maximin might well be the best of them.

At his best, the Magpies’ latest French flier is pretty much unplayable, with his dribbling dexterity, lightning-quick pace and attacking vision combining to produce a genuinely world-class talent.

His best display of last year came when he left the bench at Turf Moor in April to transform a game Newcastle were losing into a 2-1 win, and he has starred again this term, scoring four goals to suggest his best position might well be as a central striker rather than a winger.

CALLUM WILSON (NEWCASTLE)

Where would Newcastle be without their leading goalscorer? Worryingly, for the Magpies, a calf injury sustained against Manchester United last month means we might be about to find out.

Wilson scored ten goals during the calendar year of 2021, excelling despite Newcastle’s struggles in the bottom half of the table and his own persistent battles against injury. His stand-out display of the year came at the end of last January, when his brace secured a crucial 2-0 win at Everton.

Newcastle fans have been crying out for a natural number nine for a number of years now, and in Wilson, they have a goalscorer who has proven himself to be one of the most clinical in the top-flight. Give him a chance in and around the 18-yard box, and there is every chance he will put it away.

JOELINTON (NEWCASTLE)

Once a player becomes a figure of fun amongst his own support, that is generally the end for him. Not so for Joelinton, who has transformed himself from a £40m attacking misfit into a fans’ favourite midfield general in the space of 12 months.

The Brazilian’s reinvention began under Steve Bruce, albeit from a low base, with the former Newcastle boss tending to use Joelinton as a wide attacker, a role he clearly preferred to the central-attacking berth he was asked to fill in the early days of his Newcastle career.

Eddie Howe has taken the transformation even further, stationing Joelinton at the heart of midfield and asking him to play as a classic box-to-box number eight. The result has been remarkable, with Joelinton easily Newcastle’s best player during Howe’s Tyneside tenure.

ROSS STEWART (SUNDERLAND)

SUBSTITUTES

Thorben Hoffman (Sunderland), Jamie Sterry (Hartlepool), Dael Fry (Middlesbrough), Joe Willock (Newcastle), Alex Pritchard (Sunderland), Luke Charman (Darlington), Charlie Wyke (Sunderland)

For me, the no-brainers are Wilson and ASM.

With Joelinton, nobody is happier than me with what we have seen in recent games, a quite remarkable change in only eight games under Eddie Howe. The claim above that the Brazilian began improving under Steve Bruce…I struggle to see that at all. Especially when you consider that Bruce only started Joelinton in 28 of his last 46 Premier League matches in charge.

As for all the other players mentioned, I vaguely recognise the name of Paddy McNair at Middlesbrough but beyond that, I can honestly say I haven’t heard of a single other player in that top eleven.

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