Team of the Decade: Newcastle United

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Newcastle United
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 6 : Steven Taylor of Newcastle United punches the air at the final whistle during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United FC and West Bromwich Albion FC at St James' Park on February 6, 2016 in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Welcome to Last Word on Football’s team of the decade series. Newcastle United began the decade in the Championship. The Toon were relegated from the Premier League under club legend Alan Shearer in 2009. However, Chris Hughton led the club to the Championship title in 2010. They gathered 102 points and returned to the Premier League for the 2010/11 season.

Newcastle United Team of the Decade

A period of stability in the top flight followed under Alan Pardew. Newcastle’s best season was in 2012/13 when the club finished fifth in the league. It was the Toon’s highest league place since 2003 and secured qualification for the Europa League. They reached the quarter-finals of the competition in the following season, but their league form suffered.

Pardew departed in 2014 after four tumultuous years at the club. Then, John Carver and Steve McClaren struggled to keep Newcastle in the Premier League and the Magpies were relegated to the Championship again in 2016.

Rafa Benitez led the Magpies to promotion in 2017, again as champions. Currently, Newcastle are enjoying another spell of top-flight stability with Geordie Steve Bruce at the helm.

Manager – Rafa Benitez

Alan Pardew was the longest-serving manager and the most successful Newcastle manager over the last ten years, but the poor form that followed the Europa League run almost relegated the club. Therefore, Rafa Benitez is the most suitable choice to lead Newcastle’s team of the decade. Benitez oversaw the club’s relegation in 2016 but ensured an immediate return to the Premier League in 2017. The Spaniard was well regarded on Tyneside. His structured yet effective setup guided the club to two solid seasons in 2017/18 and 2018/19. His departure before the 2019/20 season was difficult for Newcastle and much of the blame was attributed to controversial owner Mike Ashley.

Formation – 3-4-3

Many quality players donned the black and white shirt over the past decade. So, a bank of four quality players start in midfield for the team of the decade. Three great strikers for the club also deserve to be in the starting line up. This attack-heavy team does not compromise the defensive setup of the team though. Three tough and committed defenders and goalkeeper held in high regarded on Tyneside offer plenty of steel at the back.

Goalkeeper – Tim Krul

There is little competition for places for the number one jersey for Newcastle. Tim Krul was the first-choice keeper at the club for most of the decade and made 185 appearances for the Toon. He was an influential figure on Tyneside under Alan Pardew, John Carver and Steve McClaren. Most notably, he kept 15 clean sheets in 38 games to help Newcastle to Europe in 2012.

Centre Back – Steven Taylor

Steven Taylor was not the most talented player for Newcastle over the last decade, but this local lad always put his body on the line for the club and captained the side admirably. Taylor played at St James’ Park for 13 years and left the club in 2016. During his Newcastle career, he made over 250 appearances.

Centre Back – Jamaal Lascelles

Consistency, leadership and determination – all the qualities that Jamaal Lascelles shows at Newcastle United. The current club captain is an essential player for the team. His importance for the club in defence since joining from Nottingham Forest in 2015 can’t be underestimated. Twenty-six-year-old Lascelles led the club’s promotion back to the top flight under Benitez in 2017. He played 43 of the 46 matches in the Championship winning season. He continues to be Mr Consistent in the heart of Newcastle’s defence and was player of the year in 2018.

Centre Back – Fabricio Coloccini

Argentinian defender Fabricio Coloccini was a stalwart in defence on Tyneside for nearly a decade. Coloccini was a central player in Chris Hughton’s Championship title-winning side in 2010 and captained the club in 2011 under Alan Pardew. The commanding centre-back was named as the club’s Player of the Year in 2011 and made 275 appearances in black and white before departing for San Lorenzo in 2016.

Centre Midfield – Yohan Cabaye

Yohan Cabaye’s incredible footballing ability was a highlight under Pardew. The Frenchman scored 18 goals for the Toon between 2011 and 2014. Some were iconic, including the 35-yard dipping strike against Liverpool and a top corner free-kick against Manchester United. His goals were reflective of his immense technical ability. Cabaye was adored by fans on Tyneside before an £18 million transfer to Paris Saint-Germain in 2014.

Centre Midfield – Cheick Tiote

Cheick Tiote was at the peak of his career at Newcastle. Known for his tough tackling and ball-winning ability, the former Ivory Coast international became a favourite at the heart of the Magpie’s midfield. Tiote played over 150 games for Newcastle and he only scored one goal in seven years for the club. However, his 30-yard volley is remembered fondly and marked a memorable comeback against Arsenal.

Right Midfield – Hatem Ben Arfa

Hatem Ben Arfa’s footballing talent cannot be underestimated. The controversial Frenchman produced some world-class football at Newcastle. The midfielder was capable of the spectacular and his solo goal against Bolton Wanderers in 2012 was reminiscent of Lionel Messi. Ben Arfa finished his Newcastle career with 14 goals and 16 assists in 86 appearances for the club. Many feel he underachieved at Newcastle but some of his football at St James’ Park was sensational.

Left Midfield – Jonas Gutierrez

Gutierrez spent eight years at Newcastle and established himself as a key player. He made over 200 appearances for the club and contributed 27 assists. The Argentinian was adored by fans. He recovered from testicular cancer in 2015 to return to the squad for the remainder of the 2014/15 season. Against all odds, he scored the second goal in a 2-0 win over West Ham United in 2015. The goal effectively secured survival for Newcastle on the final day of the season. Wild celebrations at St James’ Park followed and showed how much the moment meant to Gutierrez, the club and the fans.

Striker – Demba Ba

Senegalese international Demba Ba was signed as a replacement for Andy Carroll in 2011. Ba was not a long-serving player for Newcastle. He played 58 games for the Magpies between 2011 and 2013 but scored 29 goals for the club. The powerful striker hit the ground running in black and white, scoring eight in his first eight appearances. During the 2011/12 season, he was one of the most in-form strikers in the Premier League during and finished the season with 16 goals.

Striker – Andy Carroll

Local player Andy Carroll ended the decade where he began, at Newcastle United. The towering forward scored 17 goals in the Toon’s promotion season in 2009/10 and finished the season as the club’s top scorer. Carroll continued to lead the line in the following season for Newcastle. He scored 11 goals for the Toon in 2010/11, including a hat-trick against Aston Villa. The striker suffered numerous recurring injuries, but Carroll will be hoping to cement his heroic status on Tyneside by scoring more this season.

Striker – Papiss Cisse

Papiss Cisse made a blistering start to his Newcastle career. The Senegal striker scored 13 in his first 14 matches for Newcastle in 2011/12, including four braces. Fans will remember him for the occasional spectacular goal at Newcastle. Cisse’s outrageous swerving half-volley against Chelsea in 2012 signified the peak of his powers at Newcastle. The audacious strike was worthy of the goal of the season award. Cisse left Newcastle in 2016 with 44 goals for the club in 131 appearances.

Newcastle United Substitutes

Martin Dubravka

Mike Williamson

Mathieu Debuchy

Jonjo Shelvey

Moussa Sissoko

Matt Ritchie

Shola Ameobi

Main Photo

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