92 clubs favourite players – Hull City – Sone Aluko

Hull City have done quite well so far this season and under Steve Bruce they have a great chance of avoiding relegation this year.

They are certainly not a team of superstars but they work very hard and they have seemed quite organised and this has meant that after eight league games they have picked up 11 points and are currently sitting in ninth place. They made some good signings in the summer that added Premier League experience to the squad including Steve Harper, Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore. But my favourite player of the current squad is arguably the most exciting player to watch and is someone that when he is on the pitch will cause Premier League defences problems as he has already shown.

That man is Sone Aluko who already has a goal and two assists in his eight league games this season so he is showing that he can cut it at this level. It was a real shame when he got injured part way through last season and it did show as the team did not look as threatening and in the end it almost cost them automatic promotion. Eight goals in 23 games was a good return for someone that usually plays out wide but with his pace and directness it is not a surprise that Hull City are a better team with him in the side and if they are to be successful this season they need to try and give him as much of the ball as possible.
Aluko
Aluko did start his career in England but it was over in Scotland where he made his name and although his record does not seem too great at Aberdeen where he only scored 12 goals in 118 games, he showed enough quality for Rangers to take a chance on him, although it is worth noting that he did also assist 21 goals at Aberdeen so he was involved in 31 goals at the club. But it was at Rangers when he went to the next level and 12 goals in 23 games showed his qualities and another five assists for them was impressive. I think he would have got even better at Rangers but unfortunately he could not continue his career there because of the club’s much publicised financial problems, so he got a move to England and gaining promotion in his first season must have been a great feeling for him personally.

Steve Bruce was the man that took a chance on him and there must be some trust between the two of them because Bruce was in charge when Aluko was a young player at Birmingham City and gave him a chance in their first team. Aluko is still only 24 and will continue to get better and I am glad that he is getting the chance to show his ability in the top division in England and it would not surprise me if he was linked with a move away from Hull in the next few transfer windows if he keeps developing.

Advertisements

Steve Harper – A Newcastle Legend

Steve Harper has announced that he will be leaving Newcastle United this summer after spending 20 years at the club he supports.

Harper has played 198 games for Newcastle

Harper has played 198 games for Newcastle


It must not have been easy for him to decide to leave but he has fallen further down the pecking order this season, with both Tim Krul and Rob Elliott starting more matches. But he will always be remembered by the Newcastle fans as one of their own because he was always ready to play whenever he was needed and never let the club down. Also off the pitch he was someone that the rest of the players could look up to as he never moaned that he wasn’t playing and was the perfect professional under a lot of different managers.

Some will say that he lacked ambition, not leaving Newcastle earlier even though he was always considered second choice, particularly when Shay Given was around but to me personally he made Given a better goalkeeper simply because Harper was too good to be a number two and no manager would have been afraid to drop the Irishman as they had a fantastic replacement. When Newcastle were regularly finishing in the top five of the Premier League, Harper was arguably better than most other first choice keepers in the league and could easily have left and played first choice. But, Newcastle are his club and he will now, if he wasn’t already, be considered a cult hero, everything he did benefitted the club in some way and when a lot of other players did not want to stay around and fight and get the club back to where it belongs, he showed everyone his loyalty and commitment not to the board or to the manager but to the shirt that he was wearing and to the fans that had continually supported him.

His greatest moments would have been in the Championship winning season where he was first choice and helped them secure promotion straight back to the Premier League. In doing this he also set a new club record in keeping the most clean sheets in a season, he kept 21 in total and in some games was phenomenal, especially in a game against Sheffield United where he pulled off a number of fantastic saves. He kept his place for a while when they got promoted back to the Premier League but suffered an injury and has never been able to regain his first team spot afterwards.

He has had a good career, and some highlights along the way, a lot of people forget he actually did start the 1999 FA Cup final, so he came very close to winning a trophy at the club. But other great memories fans may have of him are not even to do with his goalkeeping and they include his famous elbow drop celebration after Cheick Tiote scored the equaliser in the 4-4 draw against Arsenal and having a spell upfront in a friendly game against Celtic.

Steve Harper will always be a legend to Newcastle fans and in my opinion was good enough to be in some England squads but it will be interesting to see what he does in the summer as he does also have his refereeing badges.

Coloccini and Krul sign new contracts at Newcastle United

Newcastle United fans will be delighted with the news that Fabricio Coloccini and Tim Krul have both signed new contracts at the club.

It is yet another step in the right direction, with the team battling for a European place this season and an outside chance of qualifying for the Champions League. The team will be delighted at their progress this season after losing several key players of their squad in the summer and pundits expecting them to battle against relegation. Kevin Nolan was captain last season and when he left for West Ham, the team needed a new leader and Coloccini was the man to take up the armband and his performances this season have justified Alan Pardew’s decision. He has been a rock at the back, and has arguably been one of the best centre backs in the division, which is a far cry from his first season at the club when he was ridiculed by opposition supporters not only for his hair but his horrific decision making and his inevitable mistakes at key moments in games.

The season in the Championship has made him improve as a defender as it helped him adapt to the physical side of the English game and now you will hardly ever see him getting bullied by strikers. But you can still tell he is from Argentina because he is not afraid to pass the ball out of the defence and try to set up an attack. He has already stated he wants to lift a trophy with the Magpies and it will not be this season but if he can help his team get into the Europa League then it will have been a fantastic season.

Krul and Coloccini celebrate

Not forgetting Tim Krul as he has been sensational between the sticks for the Toon this season and this has been an even more impressive achievement as in pre season it was unclear whether he will be the number 1 with both Steve Harper and Fraser Forster battling for the position. In all honesty I thought Harper would be first choice because of his experience but Pardew took a gamble and it is paying off. He has performed heroics in many games this season and gained valuable points this season for Newcastle and whenever he has been called upon he has never let anyone down. It is worth remembering that he is still young and can make the odd mistake when dealing with crosses as he is unsure whether to come for them or not but the more he plays the better he will get. Krul must now be considered as one of the best in the league and if he keeps progressing the way he is, then surely he will be one of the best in the world.

At the moment it is looking bright for Newcastle but with Mike Ashley in charge there will always be that fear that something will go wrong and there will be some fans saying he has only given them new contracts so he can demand a higher transfer fee from potential buyers. Newcastle are a huge club and deserve to be in Europe and if they keep the core of the squad together this summer then being a United fan will be very exciting next season. But that is definitely a big if.