This year has been a very good year under the management of Alan Pardew. It’s had a couple of setbacks with the board trying to upset the flow at every possible opportunity, but we’re back where we should be, in the top half of the Premier League.
2011 has been a special year which has been christened with an away win against Sunderland, two draws against Manchester United, an excellent unbeaten run, 5-0 win against West Ham and who could forget the best game I’ve ever seen, the remarkable 4-4 draw against Arsenal.
This year has had its ups and downs, we’ve seen broken promises regarding transfer windows, the sale of the future number 9 Andy Carroll, departure of our captain Kevin Nolan and talisman Joey Barton, not to mention the best left back in the league, Jose Enrique.
They were set backs at the time, but now look at them, Andy Carroll, we all know about him, Jose Enrique, yes he’s performing, but in a team who currently sits one point above us in the league, what a step up. Joey Barton, possibly heading down to the Championship with his woeful QPR side and Kevin Nolan, enjoying life in the Fizzy pop league.
There’s plenty of positives when it comes to signings, Demba Ba, what a man, he’s fast becoming a legend on Tyneside with 14 goals already to his name this year. Outstanding. Yohan Cabaye, also known as Dreamboat has also captured the imagination of the fans, a brilliant ball player making Joey Barton look like Alan Smith.
The rise of Tim Krul who’s looking absolutely brilliant and pulling off at least one world class save every game, and the steadiness of our back four is also something to be proud of.
Also our manager, no way was he first choice, probably not even tenth choice, but my god he’s doing a great job. He got stick, and plenty of it, but now he’s very much a fan favourite and long may that continue.
The reason behind that is that so far this year, with the Liverpool game still to go we’ve picked up 54 points. Them 54 points come from 37 games, so we’d be going in to the last game in 7th place in two of the last three seasons, which is an impressive feat considering the back end of last year was done without a proper striker.
This year will hopefully not be another one where we think what could have been if we had investment. We’re going to go into 2012 in 7th no matter what the result is at Anfield, a shock win would put us into 6th.
Now I’m going to go through my 2011 and hand out a few little imaginary awards from a few categories this year, you can get involved and comment with who you’d give these awards to, away we go.
Player of 2011 – My player of 2011 would have to be Fabricio Coloccini. There were a few candidates with Cheik Tiote, Tim Krul and even Demba Ba in his short spell at the club impressing, but Coloccini just pips them for me. He’s been an absolute rock with whoever he’s played with, and was rewarded with the captains armband, something he’s taken in his stride and been brilliant at. Sign him up.
Goal of 2011 – I’m sorry Ryan Taylor, your two beauties against Sunderland and Everton would have been fighting over this one if it wasn’t for Cheik Tiote’s wonder goal against Arsenal. The technique, the importance, the celebration, the crowd, just wow. I think I still have a bruise from being violently attacked by the man next to me, memories.
Individual Performance of 2011 – I know it was a while ago, and it’s one which may be forgotten, but I’m going to give this to Leon Best against West Ham. He was nothing, he had been written off by fans, and pundits alike. He was thrown until the starting line up at home to West Ham and everyone feared the worst, he silenced his doubters with a tidy little hat-trick and got a standing ovation. I know Ba and Tiote have played some blinders, but Best kick started his NUFC career that day.
Team performance of 2011 – There’s been some brilliant ones, Arsenal was good, the 4-4, but we played badly to let us get in that position. So for me it’s a toss-up between Man Utd away (1-1) and Stoke away (3-1). We battled out hearts out at Man Utd and were brilliant, but at Stoke we were just another level. No one does that to them at the Britannia, I can still remember Gary Neville being amazed at our play. A top quality away performance, which made a few people take notice of us.
Most Improved player – There’s a few in this category who are worthy winners in my opinion, take your pick from Leon Best, Steven Taylor, Tim Krul and Ryan Taylor. These are all players who had major question marks over them going into this year, and have really upped their game. Krul has obviously been outstanding, but he was already a good keeper, therefore I’m going to give this to Ryan Taylor.
He was out of the squad half the time, and was never really used, but this year he’s proved that he has a part to play in the side, despite being left out for WBA he returned due to Santon’s injury and set up the first goal and looked like an accomplished left back, he’s definitely changed my opinion of him.
Rising Star – We’ve had a couple of good youngsters come through the ranks this year with Shane Ferguson, Haris Vuckic and Sammy Ameobi all making appearances for the first team. Despite Shane and Sammy looking very good this award is going to go to Haris Vuckic. I know he’s not played as much as the other two but he definitely seems like he’s going to be in Pardews plan’s and his performance the other night showed why, he’s got a rocket on him.
Tool of the year – Well done Mr Nile Ranger. You’ve managed to get yourself from the most used Premier League sub to a loan at Barnsley in the space of a year. Arrest after arrest has probably ended your NUFC career and your one chance at the big time, and rightly so.
Worst miss of the year – Oh you’re really sweeping up Nile. Ranger’s miss against West Ham will have to go down as my miss of the year. That may even be the Premier League miss of the year, about six yards out, open goal, just bury it, and have your first Premier League goal, unfortunately he had his boots on the wrong feet and missed, convincingly.
Worst game of the year – There’s been a couple, but not as many as previous years. Fulham away, and Liverpool away are in the running for this one, but the run-away winner is the 4-0 defeat away at Stoke. Steve Harper’s mare compiled with lucky goals for them, we were just poor and it was one of the most depressing defeats I’ve witnessed. I hate Stoke too; you people who follow me on Twitter will know that, which makes it worse.
Worst piece of business – None of these are incoming players due to the good nature of our scouting, but two outgoing players are up there with the worst business we’ve done. Firstly, Joey Barton, I know he’s not set the world alight at QPR, but he went for free, which was poor business. Secondly, and winner of this award is Jose Enrique, he left for Liverpool for around £6 million, which is nothing compared to what he’d have been worth with a longer contract, very good player.
Best piece of business – The best piece of business this year looked like it was going to be Yohan Cabaye who looks a snip from Lille but step aside Dreamboat, and let Demba through. Demba Ba has been a revelation for Newcastle and some have even gone as far to say that he’s the best striker we’ve had since Alan Shearer, and I’d agree. His 14 goals this season have delighted the crowd and hopefully there will be more to come.
Team of the year – Tim Krul, Danny Simpson, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini, Jose Enrique, Joey Barton, Yohan Cabaye, Cheik Tiote, Jonas Gutierrez, Demba Ba, Leon Best
This year has been a very good one for football on the field, off the field, not so great, but as long as we’re a good team on the pitch I can live with that. This may be a bold statement, but in my opinion this is the best we’ve looked since the legendary Sir Bobby Robson, and that’s thanks to Alan Pardew, so a big well done is deserved there!
2011’s virtually over, come on lads, finish this season on a high!
This also happens to be my 100th article, so I’d like to thank you all for reading my articles and thank Toonsy for giving me a place to air my views/rants.