It’s fair to say that the Premier League campaign so far hasn’t got fans in the Gallowgate End buzzing. After nine games, Benitez’s men have earned just two points and it’s been some time since any player really shone.
The likes of Jamaal Lascelles and Jonjo Shelvey have been on the cusp of England call-ups, but it’s a far cry from the days of old when the Magpies were battling for the title and top four, with some of the country’s finest donning the black and white.
As a distraction from the dire goings on both on the pitch and off it at St James Park, we take a look at the players who are part of an elite group to achieve national recognition from the PFA.
Today, the likes of Leroy Sane, Mo Salah and Harry Kane pick up Player and Young Player of the Year awards, but they’re in good company with these boys…
Paul Gascoigne – PFA Young Player of the Year
Gazza burst onto the scene back in 1985 and quickly became the nation’s idol thanks to his immense skill, boyish enthusiasm and the fact that he really was the everyday man.
He picked up the PFA Young Player of the Year during the 1987/88 season, the season in what would be his last before moving to Tottenham. Despite just four seasons with club, making 104 appearances, he will go down in history as one of the very best Newcastle have produced.
Craig Bellamy – PFA Young Player of the Year
Craig Bellamy spent four years at Newcastle after becoming one of the most exciting prospects in British football at Coventry. He won PFA Young Player of the Season following his first season with the club in 2002 after bagging 14 goals.
In 2004, the problems he’s well known for began to occur and it didn’t end well for Bellamy after numerous high profile incidents, most famously sending abusive text messages to Alan Shearer.
Jermaine Jenas – PFA Young Player of the Year
Jermaine Jenas was another player who arrived at St James Park as one of the hottest prospects in football, becoming the second most expensive teenager in British football following his arrival from Nottingham Forest.
In his first full season with the club he picked up PFA Player of the Year, going on to forge a successful career with United and Spurs, earning 21 England caps.
He’s still a popular figure in football and has even gone beyond being a footballing star, now promoting menswear with Jacamo and featuring on a number of panel shows such as Would I Lie To You?
Of course, he hasn’t been too complimentary of Newcastle in recent months either.
Andy Cole – PFA Young Player of the Year
Andy Cole was a record signing for Newcastle back in 1993, signing the forward from Arsenal for £1.75million. He scored 12 in his opening 12 games and banged in 68 goals in 85 games, picking up Young Player of the Year in the 1993/94 season.
Only Hughie Gallagher has a better goals per game ratio than Cole at the club, although his stay was cut short by a mid-season move to Manchester United in 1994/95.
Les Ferdinand – PFA Players’ Player of the Year
Another of the many strikers Newcastle had during the 1990s (where are all the strikers now) was Les Ferdinand who built a strong partnership with Alan Shearer.
He arrived at the club in 1995 from QPR and instantly became a hit, banging in 29 goals in his first season at the club. This led to him being named PFA Players’ Player of the Year.
He followed it up again with another 20+ goal season before ending his short reign at the club in 1997, moving to his boyhood club, Spurs. That didn’t stop him receiving a standing ovation on his return to St James Park however.
Alan Shearer – PFA Players’ Player of the Year
Alan Shearer picked up the PFA Players’ Player of the Year twice in his career, the second coming in his first season at the club, after signing for a world record fee.
He netted over 200 goals for the Magpies during his 10 years at the club, going beyond 20 goals in six of those seasons, securing his place as a club legend.
He’s never far from all things Newcastle too, regularly being a talking head on the BBC in matters regarding the club.