We recently asked our Twitter (@NewcastleStats) & Facebook (/NewcastleStats) members what they considered to be Newcastle United Football Club’s greatest ever Premier League side. We tasked you to contemplate the greats who’ve graced St. James Park since the Premier League era began (one that we’ve been a mainstay, having missed only 2 seasons – 91/92 & 09/10) and produce a theoretical side of our finest players from past seasons.
This of course sparked massive debate (with a huge array of names forwarded); where some may argue inclusions/exclusions, I don’t think the strength and quality of this side can be disputed – I’ll let the side do the talking.
Here’s our findings, as voted by you:
GK: Shay Given (1997-2009)
Joined from: Blackburn Rovers, £1.5m
LB: Olivier Bernard (2000-2005 & 2006-2007)
Joined from: Lyon, free & Southampton, free
CB: Fabricio Coloccini (2009 to date)
Appearances: 191 (correct as of 22/08/2014)
Goals: 4 (correct as of 22/08/2014)
Joined from: Deportivo La Coruna, £10.3m
CB: Philippe Albert (1994-1999)
Joined from: Anderlecht, £2.6M
RB: Warren Barton (1995-2002)
Joined from: Wimbledon, £4m
LW: David Ginola (1995-1997)
Joined from: PSG, £2.5M
CM: Gary Speed (1998-2004)
Joined from: Everton, £5.5m
CM: Rob Lee (1992-2002)
Joined from: Charlton, £700,000
RW: Nolberto Solano (1998-2004 & 2005-2007)
Joined from: Boca Juniors, £2.48m & Aston Villa, £1.5m
ST: Alan Shearer (1996-2006)
Joined from: Blackburn Rovers, £15m
ST: Peter Beardsley (1983-1987 & 1993-1997)
Joined from: Vancouver Whitecaps, £150,000 & Everton, £1.5m
Manager: Sir Bobby Robson (1999-2004)
W119 (46.67%), D64 (25.1%), L72 (28.24%)
Subs: Tim Krul, Jonathan Woodgate, John Beresford, Yohan Cabaye, Laurent Robert, Andy Cole, Les Ferdinand
On the face of things, I can’t see why this side could not potentially challenge for the title in the present day Premier League, if not at least reach a minimum of top 4 finish. A mouth-watering combination of the “entertainers” attacking flair, the calming influence and experience of Sir Bobby Robson, coupled with arguably some of the most talented players from the last 2 decades would be a deadly – albeit theoretical – combination. Of course, as with everything in football (and Newcastle United in particular for that matter) nothing is certain.
Competition for the side was fierce with many players having been nominated. However this was even more applicable to our strike force. It was an incredibly even affair, with similar levels of support shown for Shearer, Beardsley, Cole & Ferdinand (and Xisco actually; there’s always one!). Although difficult, we decided in the end to award the places to Beardsley & Shearer, given their service to the club (18 years, 579 appearances and 256 goals between them in the Premier League alone). The latter pair, although only having had brief spells at NUFC commanded spectacular goals per game ratios:
Andy Cole – 70 appearances, 55 goals (0.79 G/PG)
Les Ferdinand – 68 appearances, 41 goals (0.6 G/PG)
Whereas Shearer (0.49 G/PG) & Beardsley (0.39 G/PG) fall slightly short of the duo, i believe they marginally edge it into the starting 11.
Perhaps the most shocking deduction from our all-time best Premier League side however is that the starting 11 cost an estimated total of £47.73m in transfer fees. That’s an average cost of only £4.34m per player. You could argue that the prices for some of our older acquisitions are unrealistic given today’s market, but even inflation-accounting they’d represent great value; especially if you consider the following:
- Gareth Bale alone cost Real Madrid a staggering £85.3m, almost twice our entire starting 11
- Michael Owen’s total cost (wages, net fee) to NUFC was £42m (read more here)
- Andy Carroll was sold to Liverpool for £35m, only £12m less than the entire side
More importantly though, how does this side compare to our current Premier League 11? 2 of our current side actually feature in the theoretical squad. Let me know your thoughts.
Note: Appearances & goal figures are Premier League only. All fees are pure author/media speculation.