Seven years on – which Championship team is better?

With five games to go, Newcastle need nine points from a possible fifteen to guarantee automatic promotion back to the Premier League. An interesting debate is to compare the current side to the Championship winning team of 2009/10.

Points total/stats

2009/10: The statistics for this season were impressive. A total of 102 points after 46 games meant we won the league by 11 points and had an incredible gap of 23 points over 3rd place Nottingham Forest.

2016/7: Well set to go up, it looks like we will finish on around 90-95 points and a fight on our hands to finish top over Brighton. Although a smaller points total, the standard of teams does feel slightly higher this time round. Huddersfield are likely to finish are more points than 3rd place in 2010 and there are some decent sides in the play offs like Sheffield Wednesday, who have done the double over us.

Managers



Chris Hughton: Hughton stepped into the breach from assistant manager during pre-season after our relegation. After a 6-0 hammering to Leyton Orient in pre-season, along with senior players, he helped build a spirit in the group that would see us celebrating come May. He was harshly sacked with us sitting 10th in the Premiership the season after. Looking at the squads, you could argue he had a stronger group to work with, even if it still takes an excellent manager to bring it all together, like he did that year.

Rafa Benitez: As brilliant a job Hughton did on Tyneside, and continues to do at Brighton now, he perhaps doesn’t have the credentials or standing of Benitez. It has felt at times this season Rafa has had to guide players to results, the tactical masterclass at Huddersfield springs to mind, than the self managing characters we had under Houghton. Both have done brilliantly for us in a time of need, but there is a sense that if promoted, exciting times lie ahead under Rafa. His contacts in the game and ability to attract players could really help take us to the next level.

Key players

  • 2009/10: Harper, Enrique, Coloccini, Jonas, Nolan, Barton, Smith, Guthrie, Lovenkrands, Ameobi and Carroll.
  • 2016/7: Darlow, Clark, Lascelles, Shelvey, Ritchie, Gayle.

In 09/10, Newcastle were blessed with a nucleus of experienced players. Once we trimmed the relegated squad from the previous season, we had numerous leaders who were well equipped for the challenge of the Championship. This was perhaps noted by Benitez in pushing through deals for Ritchie and Gayle last summer, who have proved to be fantastic signings. Interestingly, both teams have a British core, which is something Newcastle have not had enough of in recent times.

Looking at current core players, this season they are fewer than 2010. This has been due to Rafa rotating (Anita/ Yedlin, Colback/Hayden, Diame/Perez) and Newcastle not having as much depth this time round. The current crop are far younger though, which might explain some inconsistent results. The likes of Lascelles and Darlow have more room to improve. Looking at the current core though problems emerge –  we need strengthening in most areas. A new left back, winger, centre midfielder and number 10 will be priorities this summer.

Equipped for the Premiership?

As mentioned, we have less depth than last time we were promoted. We will need significant investment this summer, more than that of 2010. The key difference could be Mike Ashley  though, he has finally begun to invest in the transfer market and has hopefully learned from the dismissal of Hughton. If we avoid manager turmoil and we can keep Benitez, there is a good opportunity to finally get back into the top half and focus on a cup run.

Verdict: Stats show the team of 09/10 was better but we have every reason to believe that we now have a brighter future ahead.

About Simon Riddlesden

Lifelong Newcastle United fan and East Stand season ticket holder. Observations from a supporter who has followed NUFC during Champions League participation and through relegation, taking me from Milan to Scunthorpe.

13 thoughts on “Seven years on – which Championship team is better?

  1. Simon, yep I defo enjoyed it more last time round, I liked a lot of those players and for me within a matter of games I knew we’d go up no problem. This time I have been uneasy and our poor start really set my nerves off. We have come back well and I do hope we secure promotion in first place, though I will settle for 2nd but only cause it’s Hoots. I thought mentally we were stronger back then too, the likes of Nolan, Barton and Carrol were gonna drag us kicking and screaming all the way back to the PL. Now you look at Ritchie, Lascelles and well they are probably the only ones you can imagine laying down the law, Mitro as scary as he looks is probs a pussy cat in reality.

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  2. It is hard to like any team with Joey Barton in it. Most people give him a free pass for the tunnel incident with Shearer, which along with Iain Dowie was a factor in us going down in the first place. He then started dicking Mike Ashley around resulting in Ashley letting him go for free. Ashley hasn’t done that many things right but getting rid of Barton was one of them. He always acts the tough guy but he is the first to go down under the slightest provocation – remember when he went down clutching his face when he wasn’t even touched. I think he was named player of the season but he is a complete wanker.

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  3. I am sorry but Barton is viewed by many as a bit of a lad. No, he’s a bit of a cock. Remember he was in jail for 6 months whilst being paid by NUFC. He could have instructed his Agent to refuse the wages, or give them to charity, or buy his victim a car. No, instead they looked into legal recourse IF Newcastle denied his wages. I don’t know why anyone gives this thug the time of day. And don’t get me started about his twitter account or the time he thought he was an art critic reviewing a Lucian Freud exhibit for The Guardian. Now that was comedy gold, Jerry.

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  4. Might be harsh but i wouldnt start Murphy again; Hes done a cracking job when needed but he certainly hasnt got a future at SJP after promotion.

    Might as well give Mitrovic the remainder of the season to show if he could have a part to play long term. Similar with Mbemba/Hanley & Atsu/Gouffran IMO

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  5. CC – even in the Prem Murphy might be a decent sub in some circumstances and probably has a contract for more years(?). I’d definitely shift Atsu/Hanley/Gouffran/Lazaar/Gamez and a whole host of others like Sammy who have no future at SJP.

    Simon – it’s incredibly difficult to compare the two seasons. The opposition is definitely stronger now but I agree about building for the future. Did you read that stuff about Rafa at Liverpool? When he asked for another LB they had to point out, hang on a minute, you’ve already signed 6. Recruitment is a dodgy issue with Rafa and probably something Ashley is keeping an eye on.

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  6. Yeah i saw the stuff on Rafa at Liverpool. Recruitment always tends to be an issue for him and wherever he manages. Rafa tends to always want more and be unhappy player wise, as he is ambitious – I guess as we are so keen for him to stay, as fans, we worry a bit too much on this. It’s just hard not to after being let down by Ashley so much in the past!

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  7. Is Rafa any different from any other manager when it comes to recruitment, though? When’s the last time you heard a manager say “You know, we’ve got all the players we need. If we don’t win the league/cup/promotion, it’s on me.” Maybe it’s happened, but those instances are few and far between. Managers are notorious for taking all the credit and shifting all the blame. Probably because they’re constantly on the chopping block, no matter what (see Ranieri this year).

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  8. I think this game means more to Leeds than us. We will probably see a few changes as Gayle is injured and Rafa will want to make a statement after several sub-par performances. The main question is who plays up front? Diame hasn’t really worked as a number 10 and I would prefer to see how he does wide left. This would involve putting the knackered Gouffran on the bench. My team, as much in hope as expectation, is:

    Darlow

    Anita Lascelles MBemba Dummett

    Ritchie Shelvey Hayden Diame

    Perez

    Murphy

    Going for a score draw.

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  9. Eric, I think it’s another tough game this, more so now Gayle is out. may have to wait until Ipswich before we get our next points. Was kind of hoping we’d be one win away from promotion by now.

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