I think most fans would agree that Leon Best has surpassed any expectations we have had in his ability over the last few months. He was required to step up to the plate and that’s exactly what he has done and he is now one of the first names on the team sheet when it comes to our attacking options.
Of course, some would say that this is a selection by default as we are currently so limited with our attacking options up front, but Leon has proved he is worth selecting and has responded to the gauntlet set down with gusto.
I was extremely impressed with Leon in pre-season until a nasty cruciate injury set him back months and was sceptical when he appeared on the bench later on in the season due to him struggling to make an impact on Tyneside in our Championship winning campaign. He seemed to be in the same category as the signings of Perch and Routledge in that he had found his level in the Championship and just wasn’t good enough for the big stage. I thought he would always be a backup player and would only get a chance if injuries took their toll.
In his first Premier League start with the club, Leon was a surprise selection against West Ham United. Alan Pardew explained to journalists that Leon Best had been beating down his door for a chance to prove himself and that’s the sort of attitude he wanted to see from his players, so Leon was gifted his chance in the big time.
Many fans were having a laugh about the selection of Best and weren’t confident he could deliver the goods. They were wrong. We all hoped he would have a good game but I don’t think anyone could hold their hands up and admit that they expected Leon Best to come out with a hat-trick on his first Premier League start. Having scored a hat-trick and added goals against Arsenal and Brimingham to his tally, he now has a scoring rate of a goal every two games in 2011.
Leon is a skillful guy with the ball at his feet and from what we hear about the clubs recent ‘training’ break in Portugal, he is also the best at any other mini sport you can think of. He also demonstrated recently against Fulham that he can find the back of the net with his heed as well. Let’s be honest though, this boy has been around a while now and it’s about time he started making a name for himself. He made his debut against Newcastle on his 18th birthday and his most prolific spell of his career was at Yeovil Town on loan from Southampton.
He has proved he has the hunger and desire and can score goals against good defences as he was unlucky not to get two against Arsenal having been wrongly flagged offside. His next challenge is to keep the spot he has earned ahead of the returning Shola Ameobi and promising youngster Nile Ranger, whilst keeping Lovenkrands firmly in his shadow.
I currently feel he is our best chance of getting goals against Everton at the weekend and really wish the boy well as he comes across as a lad with a great personality.
MarkToon wrote a cracking article a couple of weeks ago singling out Leon best as one of our top performers of late and rightly said that Leon was a confidence player. How much more confidence do you need knowing that the Toon faithful are behind you 100%?
If Leon continues at this rate he should be in double figures at the end of the season which I would personally be delighted with.
Do you think Leon has what it takes to play at this level for years to come or is this just a flash in the pan? Would you pick him over any of our current crop of strikers or should he make way for Ameobi?