Looking Back, Over My Shola


…Or my team of the year 2010/2011…

It’s hard to be happy today. We were 3-0 up at home, looking at ninth in the league, but this meltdown (not our first of the season) dropped us to twelfth, behind the mackems and Villa. Still, thinking of the season as a whole, it is hard not to be happy with 12th, even if it should have been more. Despite the misconception that all Geordies are delusional, most would have taken 17th place at the start of the season.

Anyway, what a season. Sacked our popular manager, sold our best striker, lost to some terrible teams, beat some good teams, and turned over both the mackems and Villa at home.

So, in true blogging fashion, I’m gonna treat you to my team of the season, based upon what they did this season, not past glories or promise shown. Excited? You will be!

Team of the Season 2010-2011. Yesterday.

Goalkeeper – Steve Harper
Tim Krul had a good season, but by the end of his first run in the team he was looking a bit shaky. Harper was more solid this season, but will be pushed all the way next season by Krul and Forster.

Right back – Danny Simpson
Partly by default, us not having much else there (Ryan Taylor. Hmm.) Had a solid season, and will be steady going forward from this season. Not a position we need an urgent upgrade.

Centre Half – Fabricio Coloccini
For me, our unsung player of the year. Occasionally out-muscled, but a classy defender who has really settled in at this level, after his rabbit-in-the-headlights performances during our relegation season. Scorer of great goals, he is a poor man’s Philippe Albert. But not in a bad way.

Centre Half – Steve Taylor
Just edges out Handsome Mike Williamson, who had a very solid season, by virtue of his goals at the end of the season. We have three good centre-halves.

Left Back – Jose Enrique
After Evra and Cole, he is the best left back in the league for me. Strong, quick, skillful, Enrique has it all. Which is why he will probably leave us. Formed a great partnership with Jonas, but, with time, Shane Ferguson looks like he could at least be a safe pair of hands if needed next season (although I would hesitate to expect too much of him, based on his age, should he have to fill Tha Bull’s boots).

Centre Midfield – Cheik Tiote
He has been immense this season. He even showed a bit skill when needed, and scored an absolute screamer in the Arsenal match. If we can hold onto him, I will be over the moon. And if we get a couple more signings like him, we can really push on next season.

Centre Midfield – Kevin Nolan
Sometimes it’s hard to see what he does on the pitch, except score goals. A very important player at the club, nonetheless, and vital to the atmosphere in the squad.

Right Wing – Joey Barton
He has been outstanding this season. He owed us a good season after all he put the club through, and he really delivered. Matured greatly, and often drove us forward in games  the way Gerrard does for Liverpool. I would like to see him in the centre next season, maybe as a three with Tiote and Nolan behind whatever strikers we have, as we do look narrow on the right at times, and I think he can be even more effective in the centre. Still, the amount of influence he had on our season from out on the right testifies to his class.

Left Wing – Jonas Gutierrez
While it grates that he can’t cross the ball, and seemingly wants to play on the left despite being right-footed, his workrate and partnership on the left with Enrique have been vital to our performances this season. And he’s at least scored a few this season, even if one came off his arse.

Centre Forward – Andy Carroll
Left in acrimonious circumstances, but the effect he had when he did play for us cannot be underestimated. Quite simply, on his day he is unplayable. I just hope that Liverpool sell him back to us at a discount, similar to the way they handled Robbie Keane.

Centre Forward – Peter Lovenkrands
As much as I love Shola, I felt the Dane offered us more this season. Best is not the answer, Ranger is erratic and needs games elsewhere to improve, and Kuqi… yeah. Lightweight, but at least he gets goals.

I think most of you would have the same team. The only differences would be upfront, and maybe who to go alongside Coloccini in defence.

Looking at the team, if we can hold onto all of those (too late for Carroll, obviously), and add two strikers (good ones), then I would be confident of us pushing on. We will also probably need a left-back to replace Enrique, and maybe another winger, but striker is our main problem, at the minute.

On a final note, despite the fact that your humble author may not hold a great opinion of Michael Owen, which may have been mentioned in a humorous, yet factual account at one stage or other, I would still like to congratulate him on winning his first Premier League title. He promised that he would score an important goal this season, and it appears he was right, scoring the goal that relegated Blackpool. Nice one, EMO. You certainly deserve to hold the trophy. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise after your one start this season.

What would your NUFC team of the season be?


About Neil

28 years old. Geordie. Lived in Berlin almost three years. All-round canny lad.
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