“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?”
The above is how Beatski opened the equivalent post for the 13/14 season, and although things didn’t quite pan out as we’d hoped, these words are again applicable now as we’re set to enter our first season of the post-Pardew era, complete with an overhauled coaching staff, three ambitious, big money signings, and what appear to be some actual attempts at communication and the rectifying of several wrongs that have wrought Ashley’s reign.
But before we move forward into the new, let’s first take a look back at the season that was. In case you are unaware or have missed our posts over the last couple of seasons, 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.
Although there were some good times (basically six weeks from mid-October to the end of November), 14/15 will be remembered for our catastrophic implosion and loss of form from December onwards, and our inability to appoint a capable coach following Pardew’s departure, instead playing with fire and risking relegation as the self-proclaimed “best coach in the league” piloted the Magpies perilously through Premiership purgatory, only just scraping survival in the end.
There were some positives, however, so let’s take a look at the five best individual performances of the season.
8.52 – Jack Colback vs Chelsea (h) 06 Dec 14
The so-called “Ginger Pirlo” opens our top five with a midfield masterpiece against Mourinho’s Chelsea, playing an integral role in taking down the then undefeated defending champions. Playing a deep role alongside Tioté, Colback was a force both in defence akin to his partner at his best, topping the tackles and interceptions stats with seven and three respectively.
Although a game played mostly on the defensive, Colback was also the driving force of our attacks, carrying the ball forward and distributing it with almost perfect accuracy, misplacing a single pass, and creating two key opportunities, including starting the play for the winner.
“8.5 – Well I’m eating some humble pie. He was 2x the player I thought he was today.”
“9 – MOTM. Was pretty much everywhere. Made several excellent tackles, his pass for Sissoko’s assist was brilliant, hassled and chased for the whole game. Literally the only smear all game was that miss but even so it wasn’t the easiest finish to pull off.”
“8 – Man of the match! He was quality today, when he came in, there was obviously a comparison with Anita, but he offers far more. He has a tenacity and work rate that Anita doesn’t and his tackle on Costa was top class. His passing was good and he is getting in more attacking positions. He is desperate to score his first Toon goal, every time he misses a chance, he looks devastated, hopefully he gets his goal in the derby!”
8.52 – Daryl Janmaat vs West Brom (h) 09 Nov 14
A trip to Birmingham to face the Baggies would extend our winning streak to five, but perhaps more importantly it revealed to us what a gem of a right-back we had bagged in the summer break, as Janmaat put in what would become a trademark performance; a combination of excellent defending mixed with dangerous and creative offence, ultimately resulting in two assists and the most tackles in the game (five).
The first assist came thanks to a slick attacking move on the stroke of half-time, with a succession of quick passes taking the ball out to Janmaat, who then played a ground cross for Pérez to silkily slide into the far corner with a backheel. The second came around the hour mark as Janmaat was again found in space and then delivered an inch perfect cross to the back post for Coloccini to send home.
“8 – Beast! Great crossing, great assists, great runs. Still not 100% convinced about his defending but I’ll let it slide.”
“8.5 – Fantastic, consistently solid in defence and great going forward. Should’ve won a freekick in a dangerous area as well.”
“9 – Top class performance, always looked dangerous going forward and was rewarded with two assists.”
8.56 – Papiss Cissé vs Hull City (h) 20 Sep 14
Two down with 22 minutes to go, Pardew turned to an unfit Cissé to try to salvage the game and satiate a savage St James’ crowd amidst the Sack Pardew protests. Within minutes the comeback started with a Tioté interception in midfield. His ball to Papiss Cissé was slightly overhit, forcing the Senegalese substitute wide, but a hard low shot surprised McGregor at the near post.
With three minutes to go a deep Sissoko cross was headed back across goal by Gouffran to Cissé for his second and to earn a singular point in a game that was there for the taking.
“9 – Seems high but really what a performance. As well as the goals his hold up play was fantastic, he looked confident and classy.”
“8 – I’m glad he seems back to his old self, hopefully his goalscoring will continue, because I cannot see where else we’ll get them from.”
“9 – Looked much more of a threat when he came on. A real confidence booster for him.”
8.63 – Vurnon Anita vs West Ham (h) 24 May 15
Capping off an, at best, stop-start season, Big Vurn showed that despite his diminuitive stature, he was no pushover and could play the midfield enforcer role with incredible efficacy. Making an incredible seven tackles, Anita anchored an unusually attacking side, protecting the back four and helping limit the visitors to a single shot on target, while also playing a key role in getting the ball forward.
Anita had the chance to take some personal glory while also wrapping the game up in the final minutes, but when through on goal he opted to set up Cissé, rather than taking the shot himself, but only succeeding in playing the ball into the keeper’s hands.
“9 – He was just great today, closed down and got stuck in and had a physical presence! Let’s just forget ‘that’ pass eh?…”
“9 – Not going to score him down for the missed opportunity as I think his legs had just gone. Gave everything and on any other day would have been MOTM.”
“9 – Best performance in a Toon shirt, he was unreal. I’ll forgive him that missed opportunity, other than that he was brilliant.”
9.63 – Jonás Gutiérrez vs West Ham (h) 24 May 15
“I couldn’t have imagined something like this happening – it was like a movie. It is like a dream after everything I have had to go through this year. To score a goal in the last game, when we were fighting to stay in the Premier League, was fantastic. I really appreciate that moment and am so proud.”
– Jonás Gutiérrez
What more is there to say? A moment too perfect to be put into words provided a fairytale ending and some much needed catharsis following a toxic season. A man who had been cast aside and at the start of the season was battling cancer, unsure if he’d ever get to play again, goes on to get the all-clear, is able to return to competitive action, and drags his team by the scruff of the neck to safety, creating and scoring the goals that would ensure another season at the top level beyond all doubt.
“10 – He’s been one of our best players since returning, I would love for him to get a 1 year deal. His goal will forever go down as one of the greatest moments in the clubs history. A hero.
“10 – Performance of the season. Pretty much single handedly kept us up. Made one and scored one. That moment when he scored will live with me forever. Nobody deserved that more than him. After all he’s been through it is incredible he’s got back to this level. I really hope this isn’t his last game but if it is what a fitting way to go out. Jonas has been the sole highlight of this dreadful season.”
“10 – Yes he made me cry, but the rating isn’t sentimental. This was one of those very rare performances where one player drags a team by the scruff of the neck over the line. Assist, goal bit more than that a determination to succeed that others couldn’t ignore. Deserves to be in the squad next year. Only logged on to rate him a 10.”
“I am really proud to be a Geordie – they adopted me like a Geordie, so I have to say thanks to all the Newcastle fans because I have really enjoyed my seven years over here.”
– Jonás Gutiérrez
Do you agree with this list, or is there something we missed? Have your say in our discussion thread.
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