Tuesday, June 21, 2011

NUFC Season 2010/2011 Review: Midfield


Another review for Newcastle United. Guess what? This blog have fast turned into a football blog eh. Maybe I should write about another things. Nutrition? Diets?

Today we will cover about midfielders. Happy reading.

Joey Barton - 5 goals (League 4, FA Cup 1)
Appearances: PL 32, LC 0(2), FA 1
He started the season with something to prove, and he has done very well in the side especially in the first half of the season. Some fans even mentioned Barton for a recall to England squad. He was also responsible for set pieces (corners, free kicks) which seen him set up many goals for the team. He started at central midfield at the beginning of the season, and then he found himself played as right winger since late October due to ineffectiveness of Wayne Routledge. Although he played out of position, he still played well and his is still a threat to opposition from right side.

His discipline has been a problem in the past, and in this season he seen to be improved much. However, his punch on Blackburn’s Morten Gamst Pedersen earned him a 3 match ban. The performances of the team then faded which brought an end to Chris Hughton managerial reign. Troughout the season, when he did not play or he did not play well, the team seemed to miss him. But still, player of the season for me. Will he stay the next season?

Cheik Tiote - 1 goal
Appearances: PL 26, LC 0(1), FA 0(1)
Last summer signing from Dutch champion FC Twente has adapted well with life in Premier League. His His stunning strike against Arsenal in 4-4 draw capped a very good season for Ivory Coast international. He also signed a new 5 year deal until 2016. However, he needs to be more careful next season by avoiding maybe needless booking which result in suspension and miss games. He managed to collect an 'awesome' 14 yellow cards and 1 red card, which ended his season prematurely due to fear of elongated ban into the next season.

Kevin Nolan – 12 goals
Appearances: PL 30, LC 0(1), FA 1
Kevin Nolan, the captain of NUFC and club top scorer this season with 12 goals. During the season, he played as central midfielder, attacking midfielder and second striker. His goals along with Andy’s goals keep Newcastle up in the Premier League. A hat trick against Sunderland in 5-1 victory will seal his place as a Toon Army’s legend. He is a great leader on and off the pitch. His importance to the team showed by Newcastle failed to win any league games he missed. However, in some games, he went missing and not contributing much else to the team apart from scoring. Now has left the club, NUFC may miss his leadership quality, if not his performances on the pitch.

No more chicken dance..

Jonas Gutierrez
- 3 goals
Appearances: PL 34(3), LC 1(1)
Gutierrez finally settled down in English football after a season in Championship. In general, he had a good season this time in Premier League. His ability to take on 2-3 defenders at a time made him an asset for the team. He linked up well with Jose Enrique in the left side, and he also contributed by winning many free kicks after fouled by opposition players. His crossing ability came into question at times, but he improved throughout the season. He managed to set up some goals and score some goals himself. He always committed to the team by giving 100% every time he played.

Danny Guthrie
Appearances: PL 11(3), LC 1
Guthrie struggled during the season with injuries and fitness problems. Apart from some games earlier in the season which he played badly, he slowly improved with the increasing number of games he played. He often filled in for Nolan or Tiote in central midfield when they are not available.

Alan Smith
Appearances: PL 7(4), LC 2, FA 1
He started this season as the defensive midfielder. The arrival of Cheik Tiote to the club limited Smith’s chances in the first team. He often found himself on the bench and later he missed most of the second part of the season due to injury. He is not the same quality of Tiote but he still played a role in dressing room. He still awaited his first goal for almost 5 years. It is feared that his best playing days have passed long ago.

Wayne Routledge
Appearances: PL 10(7), LC 1, FA 1
He started the season as the right winger. However his displays were not good enough to convince the club that he can play in Premier League. He was often blamed for inability to cross and set chances for the team from the right side. He was replaced by Joey Barton who has performed better than him. He was sent out to Championship club Queen Park Rangers in January where he thrived once more again.

Ryan Taylor - 2 goals (both in League Cup)
Appearances: PL 3(2), LC 3
Utility man Ryan Taylor has found his first team chances limited and only played a bit part role in the squad. He played at right back, right midfield and also centre midfield for Chelsea game. His highlight of the season was two free kicks against Chelsea. He scored during 4-3 League Cup victory over Chelsea. In the league game at the same place, his free kick was deflected into the net by team mate Gutierrez. He remained a committed player whenever he is on the pitch. He also took set pieces at the end of the season. However, there are still questions about his ability as a Premier League player. He was sent off in the home game against Bolton.

More of the same next season, Ben Arfa

Hatem Ben Arfa - 1 goal
Appearances: PL 3(1)
French international signed on loan from Olympique Marseille in August. He marked his first start in English football with a magnificent goal at Everton. However, he only managed to play four games for club after suffered a double leg break in the game away at Manchester City. The injury caused him to miss the rest of the season. The offender, Nigel De Jong still does not apologize for his heavy tackle until now. Ben Arfa signed permanently during January transfer window.

Shane Ferguson
Appearances: PL 3(4), LC 2
19 year old Irish left side player made his league debut during the 0-4 defeat against Stoke City and nearly scored a goal. He also started in League Cup against Chelsea in September and assisted a goal. Ferguson then made the first team start in the next league game against Wolves. After that, he made first team in games against Chelsea and West Bromwich Albion. His displays were very good and he will be the one to watch in the future. He signed a new long term deal at the end of the season.

Shane Ferguson vs Nando - Chelsea league game

Stephen Ireland
Apperances: PL 0(2)
Aston Villa player signed on loan, maybe as replacement for departing Andrew Carroll but failed to leave any significant impact during his time at Newcastle due to ongoing injury and fitness problem. Previously joined Aston Villa in the summer from Manchester City, he failed to impress. At Newcastle, he only made two substitute appearances and showing some nice touch.

Kazenga Lua Lua
Appearances: PL 0(2), LC 1
The youngster made a substitute appearance during Chelsea draw, in a season which struggled with injury after the New Year. Earlier in the season, he was sent on loan to League One’s Brighton and Hove Albion where his displays earned good review from Brighton’s manager Gus Poyet. He is still to prove whether he can make it in Premier League.

Dan Gosling
Appearances: PL 0(1)
Former Everton player Gosling (pic below) signed on a free transfer during summer. So far he still struggled to regain his fitness and he remained injured for most of the season. His only appearance for the first team this season is as a late substitute in the draw at Sunderland (five minutes). It still remains to be seen what he can do.

Haris Vuckic
Appearances: LC 3
18 year old Slovenian Vuckic has also struggled with injury and fitness this season. He only played in the League Cup this season. The next season will be very important for him.

Ryan Donaldson
Appearances: LC 1
Another youngster played in League Cup against Accrington Stanley and then joined Hartlepool United in League One on loan. He also got some time to sit on the bench during some league games.

Sammy Ameobi
Appearances: PL 0(1)
The younger brother of Shola Ameobi made his debut during Chelsea game.

Michael Richardson
The young player find himself on the bench for some premier league games due to unavailability of other senior players.

Midfield is the area where the strength of the team lies. However, sometimes the players were not performing enough, and without key players (due to injury and suspension), Newcastle looked very much lacking in creativity to provide chances. The signing of Cheik Tiote add more steel in midfield, while Hatem Ben Arfa and Stephen Ireland supposed to add more flair to the squad. Injury to almost all midfielders stretched the squad to the point of having youngsters to fill in the bench during games. Must improve.

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