Season Review: Newcastle United

Where did you expect Newcastle to finish in 08/09? What went wrong?
I hoped for sixth from top and feared bottom half. What went wrong... everything!

Who was Newcastle's player of the year?
Bassong, by a country mile.

Who were the best players you saw play against your team?
Unsurprisingly they tend to also play for the best teams. Players like Gerrard, Lampard and Rooney at times looked on another planet compared to some of our plodders.

What did you make of Hull City?
Hull City kind of defined our season: four meetings and Newcastle couldn't win any of them, including the two cup games where Hull seemed to be doing everything they could to not have to play another round. The two league matches saw one coinciding with the furious reaction to the Keegan/Ashley debacle, while the second one saw our inept management putting out the most negative midfield in history against a team that looked even more nervous than our lot, even when Hull went one up. Ultimately some would say that those two matches decided the fate of both clubs.

Where do you need to strengthen this summer?
Firstly we need to strengthen the managerial hotseat and Alan Shearer is the standout candidate. Ownership of the club needs to be sorted immediately and Shearer installed to begin rebuilding.

It may be a shock to many but I believe our defenders are our biggest asset and if Bassong, Beye, Enrique and Steven Taylor can be retained then that would be massive. Central midfield is shockingly bad as are most other positions and urgent surgery is needed.

Who'll be on their way out?
Most of the big earners who largely (thankfully) aren't necessarily our biggest assets. Amongst the many I think Owen, Viduka, Barton, Smith, Duff, Geremi, Coloccini, Ameobi, Ryan Taylor and Nolan could be heading for the exit.

Newcastle's best 11 of the season?
Picking a best 11 is difficult and only Given, Bassong, Beye, Enrique, Steven Taylor and Carroll have in even the samllest way enhanced their credibility.

Mark Jensen is editor of The Mag (telephone 01912615551 for subscriptions)