The time is nearly upon us where we start to ponder awards and accolades for players who we feel have earned them over the course of the season.
Whilst I’m going to hang fire on the full blown Player of the Season vote for now, I do think that it’s time we started to ponder who has been our best signing of the season.
Our success this season has been brought about by shrewd investment that fits the Ashley blueprint. All of them are young enough to have sell on value, have yet to peak in their development or at the very least aren’t in a rapid state of decline like a Michael Owen, and all of them have been thoroughly scouted to ensure that they have the best possible chance of adapting to life in England, the Premier League, and the Newcastle squad.
This is not an article for apportioning praise to who we think is responsible for bringing these players in. Whether it be Alan Pardew, Graham Carr, Derek Llambias, Mike Ashley, Lee Charnley or, as is most likely, a combination of all of them, it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is finding out which player you think has been the best signing this season.
Signed from Lille, where he Captained the side to the Ligue 1 title before his departure, Cabaye has been a class act for me. With 33 appearances, three goals, and eight assists to his name this season the 26-year-old has had a fine debut season in the Premier League. However it is his work rate and willingness to put himself about that has impressed me the most.
The lad runs himself into the ground in most games which is highlighted by the amount of distance covered in each match. He’ll also tackle and intercept and is near the top of the stats chart for both. Of course he has been a bit overzealous at times this season and has sat out three games for a kick aimed at Brighton’s Adam El-Abd and was arguable fortunate not to see red in the Derby at the Stadium of Sh*te earlier on in the season. I’ll take that though as for the vast majority of time he has been fine.
What can you say about Demba Ba that hasn’t already been said? With 16 goals in 31 appearances this season the Senegal international is averaging more than a goal every two games, even though he is going through a rather lean spell at the moment which can be attributed to him playing on the left of an attacking three in a system designed to incorporate the attacking threat of Ba himself, Papiss Cisse and Hatem Ben Arfa.
Oh yeah, and he cost diddly squat in transfer fees!
The highly rated Italy U21 Captain arrived from Inter Milan in the summer with a huge reputation and a tag of being one of the best young defenders to come out of Italy since Paulo Maldini.
In truth it’s been a slow start for the Italian as he spent weeks being adjusted to the English game and way of life and was kept away from first-team affairs whilst this process took place. He’s still made 22 appearances though, which is more than he has made in any other season in fairness, and he is still just 21 years old so has a lot of career ahead of him.
Suffice to say that I don’t think he’ll win this particular vote, but I do think he’s not as bad as some are making him out to be. Yes he has a lot of rough edges to his game, but the pace he possesses is frightening and if he can iron out some of those creases in his game he’ll be alreet. It should also be noted that the lad works hard tracking back and was a fixture in our team during our impressive start to the season in which we went 11 games unbeaten.
Papiss Demba Cisse
It’s unusual for a January signing to be considered for awards* like this. However with ten goals in his first nine appearances you can’t really discount the former Freiburg frontman. He really has hit the ground running and has shown that he is more than capable of wearing the Newcastle No9 shirt that is adored by so many. He also signalled a bit of ambition from the board, who have now shown that they will spend relatively big on the right player, and that they are prepared to wait to get hold of their man.
The boy is a natural finisher and has scored some sublime goals, with his chipped effort away at Swansea being amongst the best of them. With five games to go, could he sensationally pip Demba Ba to our very own Golden Boot? It’s a tough ask, but equally I wouldn’t put it past him!
I’ve left out the likes of Mehdi Abeid, Sylvain Marveaux and Rob Elliot. Abeid is very much a prospect and hasn’t featured much for the first team. The same applies for Rob Elliot (apart from the prospect bit!) although incidentally I was at a game in which both of them played at Nottingham Forest earlier on in the season. It could have been different for Marveaux though had his injury problems not flared up once more.
I also appreciate that some may say that signing players like Tim Krul and Fabricio Coloccini on longer contracts should be considered, but not for this. I have a sneaking suspicion that both may appear in our Player of the Season poll however…
So get cracking then. Cast your vote and and we’ll see who is deemed to have been the best bit of business this season. remember it’s a fairly open ended and depends on any number of factors that YOU deem valid. If you think that cost is a factor then consider it in your evaluation.If it’s form or asists or goals etc etc then consider that instead.
It should be a decent vote to be fair as most of our signing have contributed in one way or another, so now it’s over to you!
* It’s not a real award with a trophy or owt like that!