Yesterday we reviewed our youngsters and our Youth Academy and the conclusion was that are extremely well positioned with the youngsters we have and also the structure to bring a lot more though the system – probably one of the most promising aspects of last season.
Today we will look at the more established players and see how they did.
Shay Given getting Soaked
- Shay Given and Stephen Harper
When Shay played he was as good as ever but for the first season ever since joining us from Blackburn 10 years ago he had injury problems. They started with a bad injury to his bowel he suffered after colliding with the West Ham striker Marlon Harewood at Upton Park on 17 September. After that he continued to have groin problems. Shay started 33 games for us and we hope he will strengthen his groin so that his injury problems will be history.
Steve Harper deputized very well for us – as usual – after a shaky start – due to him not having played for quite a while with Given very rarely injured. He made 25 appearances for us with 22 starts. We’ve thought for a long time that Steve could be a Premiership goalkeeper elsewhere – but he seems to be happy to stay at Newcastle and play for his local team.
- Stephen Carr
Injury prone again and made 32 starts for us last season. Carr didn’t look all that good and it is likely we will be bringing in a new right back during the summer. Nobby Solano deputized for Stephen many times – and looked a better right back. Carr may be sold in the summer.
- Craig Moore
A good player when he is fit but is always injured. Craig played only 30 times for us in the two years he was here. Last season he did manage 21 appearances for us but has been released on a free transfer – pity we couldn’t keep Craig fit – he could have done a job helping the youngsters through.
- Titus Bramble
Typical season for Titus at Newcastle. Good for 95% of the time but still prone to stupid errors – like he amde against Bolton at home and against AZ Alkmaar in the UEFA cup. A technically skilled player at 6′ 1″ – we’ll see if Harry Redknapp can cure his lapses. He made 31 appearances for us last season scoring one goal and in his career at Newcastle made 154 appearances, with 144 starts and 7 goals.
Will always remember his goal against Chelsea a year ago when he nearly broke the net and won the last game of the season for us. A really nice guy – came in for relentless criticism at Newcastle because of his obvious mistakes – all the best for the future Titus!.
- Peter Ramage
23 year old Peter is from Ashington and was hit a bit by injury last season but still made 31 appearances for the club. A good no-nonsense player – he will get better and certainly played well with Steven Taylor for 9 consecutive games. Will be pressing for a place somewhere in the side next season. Reminds us of Aaron Hughes – who played over 250 games for Newcastle – mostly as a utility defender. Peter has the passion you expect from a local lad. Wonder if we can entice Hughes back to Newcastle from Aston Villa – where he’s not getting a game – excellent utility player who we needed badly last season. Peter is a good player who needs games,
- Celestine Babyaro
Not unlike Stephen Carr last season – he was injured a lot land looked only OK when he played. We don’t get enough games out of Celestine and last season he made only 20 starts and 72 appearances since he joined us thirty months ago from Chelsea. Another likely candidate to be put in the transfer list – although there is always the choice to keep Carr and Babayaro as back-ups as we bring in a couple of class full backs.
- Scott Parker
Scott was not as good as in his first year at Newcastle but still made a good 41 appearances for us last season. The captain took some stick ffom some fans but we have confidence in Scotty and think he’ll do just great under Big Sam. Hopefully the fans will give him a break this season – we want to keep guys like Scott – who have proven they will give their all for the club. Many clubs will be interested if he becomes available – but surely Sam isn’t going to let him go. Congratulations to Scott for breaking into the England squad again.
- Nobby Solano
Had a very good season for us in which he made a good 44 appearances for us – with 39 starts and 4 goals.. Well liked by the fans and probably the best ever player from South America (just edging out George Robledo from Chile) ever to play for Newcastle. He was switched – because of injuries – to his old position of right back and played extremely well – while the rest of the defense was playing poorly. Made some incredible goal line clearances and looked like he could play there for Newcastle for at least a couple of years. Solano is out of contract at Newcastle but we would like to see him sign a two year deal – but will probably be offered a one year deal. Excellent contribution to the team last year – well done Nobby.
Emre had a difficult season after being charged with racism and there’s no doubt it affected his season. He is a good player who is a bit injury prone but still made 38 appearances for the club last season scoring goals. We have a feeling there is much more to come from Emre – and he seems committed to the cause. We hope Emre stays with us and think he will do well under Big Sam’s tutelage.
- Kieron Dyer
Kieron had an odd season for us but made a total of 30 appearances for us, with 27 starts and a best ever 7 goals. A big improvement over the previous season when he made only 7 starts. Started the season in October in sizzling form and then made it back into the England squad. However, towards the end of the season he didn’t play too well – and didn’t seem to care too much either. We’d still like him to stay at the club for at least a year so we can get some return on him related to his injury concerns over the last two seasons. If anybody can get the best out of him it’s Big Sam. Still questions about his character and temperament – but a gifted footballer – no doubt.
- Nicky Butt
Nicky had a great comeback season at Newcastle and deserves much credit for his determination and character (meaning guts) – and epitomizes the spirit and tenacity of former Manchester United players. When the season started Nicky was under a cloud – having just returned from a season long loan to Birmingham. However – he got stuck in and was soon a regular in the side – doing so well that towards the end of the season he was a stand in captain for us when Shay and Scott were out injured. Can be a huge player for us next year (and a few years after that) under Allardyce’s coaching – and if Parker is moved on Nicky would make an excellent choice as captain. We are big fans of Nicky and admire his skill, tenacity and temperament. Well done Nicky – and keep it up!
- Antoine Sibierski
Had an excellent season for us last season after being signed on a free on last day of transfer window from Manchester City. Made a total of 39 appearances and scored 8 valuable goals and had 25 starts. We expected Antoine would be here next season but news today that he rejected Newcastle’s one year contract. We will be disappointed if Antoine leaves us.
- Damien Duff
Signed from Chelsea for â‚¤6M last summer Duff has not shown good form at Newcastle – although towards the end of last season he did start to shine – but then he got injured. Has a history of injury problems and made 33 appearances last season with 29 starts and 1 goal. We will look for much better from Duff next season – where he should (must) show some improvement on last year’s performances. News that newly promoted Sunderland want him and a possible summer departure – but unlikely.
- Obafemi Martins
Signed for â‚¤10M in the summer Martins had a good season after a slow start. He made 46 appearances for Newcastle with 43 starts and 17 goals in his first season in the Premiership. One of the few good buys we have made in the last few years – he is good player and scored a fabulous goal against Tottenham at White Hart Lane which was clocked at 85 MPH. Recent news that Juventus would like him for next season and it may be – with a suitable offer he may go – but not sure Big Sam will do that. Well liked by the Newcastle fans – but a small question over his temperament – but we think he’ll be fine under Allardyce.
- Shola Ameobi
Shola played for us until October with a hip injury and scored 5 goals in 16 appeances with 11 starts. Was starting to score gaols regularly until he had to have the hip operation at Dr. Steadman in Colorado (where Owen also went). Now that Shola appears 100% fit we expect him to be a pleasant surprise next season where his size 6′ 2″ frame and physical play will be a boon next to Martins and Owen. Not liked by all the fans – Shola nevertheless gives his all for the club – as any Newcastle raised boy will. Raised in Newcastle since he was nine and came through our academy system.
- Michael Owen
Michael – as we know has had a terrible time with injuries at Newcastle – through no fault of his own. Had multiple operations on his knee since his injury playing for England at last year’s World Cup – when he was injured playing against Sweden. Injuries have deprived Michael from making only 14 appearances in a Newcastle shirt in two seasons. He has scored 7 goals and there is now a concern – at least with the Newcastle fans – that he may leave Newcastle in the summer. We don’t think that will happen and expect Michael to be fully dedicated to Newcastle next season – but he may not stay past the two years left on his contract – unless we start challenging for trophies.
That’s what the older more seasoned players did for us last season. Not good.
Partly due to injuries most of them were not available for portions of the season – but when they came back – during the last 10 games – we had disastrous results.
Simply not good enough for a team like Newcastle.
Sam needs to find the cause of our injuries. – and don’t be surprised if at least three of the above squad are not with us at the start of next season – not including Bramble and Moore – who have already left for pastures anew.
That’s Part 2 of our review – please let us have your own comments and opinions.
Part 3 tomorrow will concentrate on the stars of our season – bet you know exactly who they are!