Yesterday we reviewed part 2 on this week’s review of Newcastle’s season – and we were disappointed with the performance of a lot of the more experienced professionals. Too many of them were injured and we were kept above water by our youngsters – who played admirably (should that be better) in their absence.
Now we come to the 6 stars of the season.
As we have said we thought the youngsters did great last year – none more so than James Milner and Steven Taylor – our two young England under-21 internationals. We have ranked them 1 and 2 – and expect Milner to be named player of the season for Newcastle – after a fine 53 appearances and 4 goals.
James Milner and Steven Taylor
Steven Taylor was also excellent particularly the last 3 months of the season where he came into his own at the heart of the Newcastle defense. We expect both of them to get even better next year and again have lots of starts between them.
We then include 4 of the older players.
Shay Given had another fine season for us – even though his season was injury hit for the first time – but without Given – we’re not sure where we’d be. He’s been very good for us over 10 years and is the best Newcastle United goalkeeper ever – little doubt there.
Obafemi Martins is not really an older player being just 22 – but anyone who can score 17 goals in his first Premiership season has to be acknowledged. We hope Oba is here next season to see how he does with Owen (who we also hope is here !). Obviously he can only get better as he gets older.
The last two are Nicky Butt who showed outstanding leadership last year and has become one of our most vital players for the future and of course Nobby Solano – who when switched to right back – because of injuries – was a revelation.
Well done to all five – and we’d like the same performances next year !
Following are our reviews of the season updated from the reports of Monday and Tuesday.
- James Milner
- Steven Taylor
Steven had a fairly poor start to the season. He was well thought at the beginning of the season but had missed about five months of the previous season with a shoulder injury. He had made 17 appearance in the previous season and 22 in the season before that. But like the good professional he is Steven came back strongly and made great strides in the last three months of the season to record 44 appearances for the team and four valuable goals.
Steven is a leader and is not timid about telling older players where they should be and what they should do – he has matured greatly over the last four months. Steven is a big star in the making and epitomizes the drive and spirit we want at Newcastle. We expect Steven to do great things for Newcastle and England in the future and itâ€™s scary as to how good he can become – with his attitude of constant improvement. We also think getting Sol Campbell in would help him big time – and he would learn very quickly from Sol. Steven has made 94 appearances for Newcastle and we expect him to be a future captain of the club.
- Shay Given
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. It 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 – caused by his bowel injury. Shay started 33 games for us and we hope he will strengthen his groin so that his injury problems will be history.
Shay is one of the best keepers in the Premiership – having won the best goalkeeper award twice. Probably only Petr Cech is above him right now – but Shay is improving all the time and has a very low mistakes rate. He is often inspirational with his saves at vital times during the games and is well respected thoughout the game for both his on field and off field achievements. Shay – well done – not sure where we’d be without you.
- 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 – and as we said earlier – he should get better in the next year or so.
- Nicky Butt
Nicky had an excellent comeback season at Newcastle and deserves much credit for his determination and character (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.
Nicky 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. Nicky is finally showing his class and form from his Manchester United days and is turning out to be a good buy after all.
We are big fans of Nicky and admire his skill, tenacity and temperament. Well done Nicky – and keep it up!
- 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.
We expect that the players Big Sam wants – like Solano – have been told they are staying and the contracts just need to be worked out. Old contracts tend to run out at the end of June.
Excellent contribution to the team last year – well done Nobby.
A story book season for James. Nearly sold to Aston Villa last August after playing 33 times for them the season before James went on to tie Shay Givenâ€™s mark of 53 appearances in a season. James has shown excellent character and determination and his work rate is first class. What a difference from a certain Laurent Robert in terms of tracking back. What was different about Milnerâ€™s performances is that he gained a certain level of consistency for one so young and displayed an excellent attitude throughout the season. We think James has got to continue to be given his head next season â€“ and he will only get better. His four goals were all pile-drivers and went in like rockets. James has made 104 appearances for Newcastle. Well done James and best luck for another tremendous season under Big Sam.
That completes the review of our stars – tomorrow we will look at the clear-out that is still needed this summer.
Comments always welcome.