So Who Was The Best?
By Brad Dixon
Thursday 26 May 2011 14:08:00
Browse all Brad Dixon articles


I was asked the other week the classic football question that all fans debate; ‘Who is the best player to have played for your club’.  My thoughts flashed back through time and I came up with the list of usual suspects, but it occurred to me that I hadn’t gave any consideration at all to our current crop of players, Andy Carroll included.   If you try and compare today’s squad like for like with the best we have had previously (post 1980 for my own experience) then there really is no comparison, but before I cast the class of 2010 to the reject bin maybe there is a glimmer of hope for some of them.  The year saw us pretty much in winning mode throughout, winning promotion surprisingly to us all at relative ease, rolling in to the Premiership with a bang against Villa, followed by famous victories at Chelsea, Arsenal and even a home win against Liverpool showed how memorable 2010 was for winning.  Did I forget that 5-1 mauling of the mackems?  The fact that we somehow found a way to lose a manager along the way just about typifies the way we do things around here, however this just adds weight to the argument of what an achievement the year has been.

 The squad seems to be united for the first time in a while and you genuinely feel they want to do well for each other and the fans.  So who has shone out for us and has the potential to lead us forward over the coming years?  Andy Carroll is the obvious starting point.  All muscle, ponytail and new found toy of the tabloid press.  Yes he is a million miles away from being a Shearer or a Beardsley, yet he has the potential and certainly the balls to carry our number 9 shirt.  Cheik Tiote is arguably the find of the season.  Thanks Chris!  Our Essien or Davey McCreery, he chops it up in the middle of the park and has run the show for us this season.  He would be the one player we simply could not afford to lose.  A future captain in the making if he can learn the lingo.    Stephen Taylor may not have played much in the year but he remains a prize asset to us. Will he won’t he sign?  Thankfully he did and hopefully he can now look forward to being both injury and speculation free and get back to the form that had him ready for England.  That’s three players who play right down the middle of our team.  Not a bad spine and certainly the basis to build a good team around.  We have such a healthy pool of goalkeepers to play behind them too, probably as strong as anyone in the Premiership.  So what do we have around them?  Well the team has settled down nicely to Premiership life with Nolan, Barton, Enrique and Coloccini all becoming irreplaceable this season and they have certainly silenced their critics.  Our first 11 are now more than a match for any team outside the top 5 which we have proved through our various heavy wins this season, yet at the same time the team are completely vulnerable to any injuries/suspensions/fatigue which has been highlighted at times through some woeful performances.  The under belly of the squad is average at best.  Would you want to rely on many outside the regular 11?  Gosling and Ben Arfa are chinks of light that will prove real competition to the first team but quite a few more of this quality is needed if we are to carry our winnng run in to 2011.  As the January transfer window runs by it will be in these times when the club has the opportunity to invest that will ultimately decide our future.  We don’t need any best players of all time.  We don’t need the Shepherd trophy signings of the past.  What we need is players who can shape our squad and add the competition for places that we clearly lack at present.  Shearer and Co can rest at ease for a while and enjoy their ‘best ever’ status but perhaps the class of 2011 with a helping hand from the hierarchy at the club may yet prove to be modern day candidates for ‘Best ever Newcastle United team’.

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