Top Five Player Performances of 13/14

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After a spree of signings, anticipation for the new season is the highest it has been for a few years on Tyneside. Some have even taken to adopting the ways of optimism. So what better time to start having a look back at the season that was as we prepare to start the new campaign?

In case you are unaware or missed our posts last season, we’ve been cataloguing the fans’ player ratings and reactions after each match and collating them into the ToonForumIndex (TFI), which it turns out is pretty handy when you want to look back.

There are few moments we can look back on fondly in what was a mostly dross season, but here at the TFI we have scraped together some of the few highlights into a handy top five, so prepare to get deluded as we feast upon some of the top individual performances of the 2013/2014 season, thinking about what could be if we had played to players’ strengths, if we could get everyone firing on all cylinders at once, instead of for some reason regressing…

There may be more to come soon (there’s a bunch of less enjoyable fives to go through too); depending on how many we can get written before the season gets started and while also working to improve how the TFI works for next season. We may also possibly make the database available to anyone who is interested in writing something.

8.66 – Vurnon Anita vs Hull City (01 Mar 14)

Propping up the top five is Anita with his first league goal for the club, putting in a creative master class in midfield, despite being outnumbered and not Cabaye. It’s a shame for him that it is a match which will unfortunately be remembered for managerial idiocy rather than a rare good win in 2014 for us, oddly fitting for a player whose playing style and role tends to see him go under the radar, both with the fans and the man who stole the spotlight with his antics.

“I’m not always as enthusiastic about him as others, but epic today.”

“Didn’t put a foot wrong, best he’s ever played in a two man central midfield. Delighted that he got a goal.”

“Great performance. Actually had an impact on the game (which is normally my criticism of him) and was glad to see him get a goal as he seems like a decent guy.”

8.67 – Mathieu Debuchy vs Arsenal (29 Jan 13)

The fact that his rating is up here despite us losing goes to show just how well he performed on the day, in fact the whole team (aside from Rémy and Pardew’s subs) received unusually high marks for their performance in what was a very rare valiant defeat. The highest rating for a defender this season and the only one to make this list, Debuchy was ironically our biggest attacking threat in the match, having two chances at the back post and hitting the bar with a header in the first half, in the second he also managed to deny Walcott with an excellent block on the line. No doubt this performance played a big part in sealing his recent move to Arsenal.

“Was unlucky not to score and made one of the best goal-line clearances I have ever seen. The man is a machine.”

“Is this the same guy that played for us in the second half of last season?”

“Everywhere at all times. Best right back both attacking and defending I can remember us having for a long time!”

“Storming full-back performance, crossing one minute and smashing people at the back the next.”

8.91 – Cheick Tioté vs Manchester Utd (07 Dec 13)

Following a 3-0 drubbing playing a 4-4-2 to Swansea, Pardew was forced to change things up, switching to 4-2-3-1 to great effect as our tidy threesome of central midfielders clearly out passed and outplayed Manchester’s weak core, looking more like the home side than the away. Key to that dominance was a man of the match performance from Tioté at his destructive and indomitable best, stopping the opposition from getting a foothold and severely limiting their chances. With the right attacking players around him, Tioté can has shown he can form the foundation of a very effective midfield; let’s see how he does with the likes of new signings Cabella and De Jong ahead of him, and Colback alongside him.

“Absolute tank in midfield. Only downside was his occasionally risky passing and, of course, his shooting.”

“He was everywhere, countless great tackles and interceptions. He really is having a great season.”

“Unbelievable effort, drive and passion on display. Absolutely bossed the midfield.”

9.19 – Hatem Ben Arfa vs Aston Villa (14 Sep 13)

In at second, it’s that mercurial maverick Hatem Ben Arfa, who having been deployed on the right of an attacking trio in a 4-3-3 formation put in a brilliant performance from start to finish; a continual thorn in the Villa side. He had the life of Luna, but to be fair to the inexperienced full back I doubt many could have stopped him on the day. It just goes to show that when utilised properly in a team that plays to his strengths (rather than being benched for his weaknesses) he can be a real asset to the side, although recent stories about returning to training overweight and being transfer-listed mean that we may not get to see this again…

“Doesn’t feel right giving a player a 10 but there was nothing else he could do, he was sublime.”

“I don’t care what anyone says, I think he’s world class. He is way, way too good for Newcastle United. An absolute joy to watch when he has the ball, always looking to attack. He is our saviour at the moment.”

“MOTM. Outstanding displayed. Tortured Villa’s LB. His acceleration, technique, dribbling, shooting ability, vision and passing will be crucial to us this season (that’s if we keep him until the end of the season).”

“One of the best performances I’ve seen him put in. Villa had no idea what to do and he could easily have scored three.”

9.87 – Tim Krul vs Tottenham (10 Nov 13)

Was it ever in any doubt that this would be voted the best individual performance of the season? Krul makes the most saves in a single game since records began (Opta started recording in 2006 ) without conceding a goal to get us an unlikely three points at White Hart Lane, in a game which with anyone else between the stick would have ended very differently, probably akin to some of our all too regular routs toward the end of the season. On his day Krul is a brilliant keeper and it’s performances like this that earned his inclusion in the Netherlands’ World Cup squad this summer, where his limited appearance in a penalty shoot-out earned him instant acclaim.

“Sensational, the best performance I’ve seen from a goalkeeper for a very very long time.”

“I want whatever he is on. How did he even do that?”

“The definition of a 10/10 performance. Wouldn’t be out of place in a World Cup Final. Needs to work on his kicking but we’ll let him off. And he’s only 25.”

Do you agree with this list, or is there something we missed? Have your say in our discussion thread here.

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