Why bother with a number nine?

The end of the traditional No9?
As NUFC fans we’ve been treated to some true legends wearing the number nine shirt over the years.

It almost has a mystique around it, and it comes with an expectation that strikers can either revel in or crack under.

The names of Jackie Milburn, Malcolm MacDonald and Alan Shearer will always be remembered, for being heroes of their generation at Newcastle. Right now, however, the jersey stands vacant, and there doesn’t seem, to me anyway, to be too many names out there big enough to fill the shirt.

We have had this ideal as a club, to build the team around a big number nine focal point, creating chances for him to bang away in the hope of creating another legend – but does the modern game allow for this?

Looking at the greatest teams in the world, they all have great strikers. But are they in the same mould that great strikers have been in the past? I don’t think so.

Barcelona, have the likes of Lionel Messi and David Villa – two exceptionally technically gifted, quick strikers. They attempted the big target man in Zlatan Ibrahimović, and although he scored goals, he never quite fitted in with a fluid one touch, pacey style they play.

Manchester United have Wayne Rooney, who most certainly is powerful, but I wouldn’t call him a target man as such. He has vision and pace and drops deep to create chances for team mates.

Manchester City’s new revelation, Sergio Aguero is certainly no target man, and is very much in the same mould of a Messi or Rooney.

So what exactly are we looking for when it comes to finding our new Number 9?

The closest we have come to filling the void left by Alan Shearer was Andy Carroll, who grew into the role very nicely, but I have to be honest, although extremely effective his strengths are only really effective when the entire team plays around him.

I would hate to see us bring Andy Carroll back now, because I think it would be a waste for the likes of Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye to be pumping long balls to a target man. Players like Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan were very effective in this strategy because although talented, they perhaps lacked the technical ability to play any other system.

We now have players with fantastic technical ability to keep the ball on the deck and still be extremely creative, and as such, I don’t believe we should be trying to play around a certain focal point historical Number 9 type striker, but rather play as a team, with perhaps our most creative midfielder, Ben Arfa, being the focal point of attacking moves, much like the role Messi plays for Barca.

If that is the case I can see why Alan Pardew has been targeting that quick, mobile powerful striker like to fill the Number 9 shirt.

It may not be what we, as Toon fans are accustomed to, but it could well turn out to be a positive chance in an expired mentality that has been a long time coming.

The question is, what is more important?

Having a new legend to play in the Number 9 shirt? Or having a player to fill the shirt that fits in with the team and adds to a new and exciting brand of football?

Let’s not put too much of a stigma on the Number 9 shirt. Let’s think more about the team, and who knows, our new hero could well come from somewhere else in the squad ranks.

The legendary Number 10 Toon shirt perhaps?

About JJ

Toon supporter since 1993. Living in South Africa. I've been following Newcastle since the days of Andy Cole and Peter Beardsley. Despite all the turmoil recently, the passion only grows with time.

113 thoughts on “Why bother with a number nine?

  1. I think the view is that most Dutch clubs “need” money, their national league is similar to the Scottish one in that the clubs are quite small (outside the few huge teams) and always need to sell. Only difference being the huge numbers of talent Holland produces.

    Ajax just bought him this year though so any team getting him will have to pay top dollar.


  2. I’d let ben arfa take it to be fair! See how he gets on till Xmas I’m sure he won’t disappoint in anyway what so ever! Iv watched the lad for a few years! Watching him actually gives me goose bumps. On an average day he’s still unreal an on his day well in my opinion one of the best players iv seen in many years. This lad playing for Newcastle and being fit will be a dream to watch especially teaming up with the lads we have got I think we are in for a particularly good season 🙂


  3. Would be great to have a player who scores a lot of goals wearing the shirt, not too sure if it really makes a difference if it’s a target man or a speedy forward.

    Anyway, who’s seen this?
    Stadium filled with women. Pretty cracking atmosphere if you ask me. Great stuff. Well done, turkey! 😀


  4. JJ one of the players you described who wore the number 9 was a quick, mobile powerful striker who we found in the lower leagues ,Imagine a young Malcolm MacDonald plying his trade in Pardew’s team. Please Alan can you get me one for Christmas,I know I will have to wait till January,so i will try to be good.


  5. Anth sounds like you want Benny to get the shirt, but I really dont see him as the goal scoring No 9 type player that lots of fans seem to think he is, well not going by his goal tally in the game anyway.
    I think Benny will be the scorer of great goals but not a great goal scorer.


  6. I don’t think there is anyone out there within this “blueprint” that will fit the fan ideal there seems to be of a No9. Keep it vacant or let someone earn it. Mind you, there is always the thinking that giving it to someone could be the making of them ala Carroll.


  7. What almost be inclined to wait for airey….he was scoring goals for fun in reserves really hope he makes it


  8. Toonsy imo there is 2 types of No9’s for us.
    1 A top quality proven striker that you bring in, that would be good enough to wear it, or the shirt might be one of the reasons for him to want to join.

    2 Or give it to one of our own players when they prove over the coarse of a season that they are the right fit for the shirt.
    I dont think that Best is our answer but have to admit that he is changing my opinion of him, and I would like nothing more than for him to earn the shirt.


  9. Toonsy according to ‘reports’ £350,000k a week …. madness
    Where he has gone is one of the most poverty stricken parts of russia aswell! Wouldnt want to flash my cash there


  10. well in the last few seasons our strikers have been starved of service from both the midfield and the wings. Exception being carol for half a season with Nolan.
    I see things changing this season. We seem to have a couple good wingers and a midfield with good technical ability.
    What we need now is a forward/striker with the ability to stick the ball in the net.
    Have to admit Besty gets into the right place at the right time, but his finishing isn’t great. His confidence must be well up tho, so that should help him.
    I wouldn’t give him the No9 just yet tho. Make the forwards fight for the right to wear it, over this season. If any get close to 20 goals then they will have earned it for next. (Unless we then sell them 😕 )

    I can actually see our midfield getting us a lot of penalties this season, so we need a good penalty taker also. (Shola ???)


  11. Stuart @ 92. There’s nowt wrong with average strikers, if they are prepared to work hard. Our problem tho is the static ones who are lazy, always offside, cant keep posession and have no pace/movement.


  12. “Have to admit Besty gets into the right place at the right time, but his finishing isn’t great.”


    He puts the ball in the back of the net on a regular basis…Even if he scores a hat-trick tomorrow there will be some that still won’t accept he is a good striker.


  13. Beardsley-you don’t like Best’s finishing? Honestly I think he’s the most natural finisher we have, and coupled with he’s got the best positional sense or sheer luck of being in the right place at the right time.


  14. Best has the highest shots to goals ratio of any player in the Premier League

    Only Rooney has a better goals per minute ratio so far this season

    Best also has the second highest percentage of shots on target with 86% reaching their desired destination.

    All from the Chron yesterday. They also say that Best is in the top 20 Premier League performers so far this season. Yet still nobody gives the lad a break, or if they do they damn him with faint praise


  15. Haha!

    Never has the phrase “There’s proof in the pudding” ever been so relevant.

    Any chance we can dig out Best’s total Prem League minutes played (this season and last) / Goals?

    I’ll have a look too.


  16. Moreno – Got it.

    Never played a full 90 minutes for us. Tital minutes = 996 minutes.

    996/9 = 1 goal every 110 minutes.

    Got it from a comment someone posted the other day.


    I posted on another blog this week regarding Best’s stats so I don’t know if this is interesting to you guys but I went through his Premier league minutes based on his 15 appearances.

    He has never played a full 90 minutes in any of his 15 appearances. In total he has 996 minutes on the pitch which works out at 11.06 full 90 minute periods so based on that stat his goal ratio is, hypothetically speaking, 9 goals in 11.1 matches if you round it up.

    If you also take in to consideration the goals he has had disallowed, and I believe with no bias whatsoever that some of these were incorrectly disallowed, then his ratio should be even better. Possibly nearing one goal a game if luck had gone his way.


  17. True about the dissallowed goals as well. Even with his finishing (which isn’t great) he has hit the back of the net twice more that I can remember which were wrongly chalked off…

    A goal a game striker? 😀


  18. So Best has the same goal to game ratio as a certain Mr Owen has for his new wonderful club….according to many Owen is now a certainty for England, and half our fans wouldn’t be happy with Best on the bench. Show’s the deluded nature of both England and ourselves as fans perfectly I think..


  19. OK well in fairness I never actually said Best was crap or owt, but whatever.
    I agree that Loverhands does a lot of work/movement, but scores even less.
    Stats are great aren’t they.


  20. judging by how the press have been creaming over Owen Hargreaves, I’d say he was a shoe in for England n all


  21. best or airey (sad but, he is not given a chance at hibs…) is our most likely new nr9. if best scores 18 i would give him the shirt. Airey was unstopable in reserves, he should have been given a chance in in first team, he is better than ranger, loverkrands or shola in my eyes.


  22. Beardsley-Yeah, Hargreaves is/was a great player, but one goal and then into the England squad? Madness.

    Saying that, I’d put him in over Lampard right now in a heartbeat.


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