Alan Pardew’s best Newcastle XI

DEAL ... Alan Pardew.
DEAL ... Alan Pardew.

FOUR years ago today, Alan Pardew was appointed Newcastle United manager.

There have been many ups and downs over that time, as you might expect in the rollercoaster world of United.

Pardew led the club back into Europe in 2012 but almost into the Championship a year later, while his teams have broken numerous records – both good and bad.

But who would make the best Newcastle XI from his four years at St James’s Park? Read on below to find out.

Goalkeeper: Tim Krul

This is the easiest decision to make, as Krul has been the undisputed No1 at Newcastle for most of Pardew’s time at the club.

Steve Harper remained first-choice for much of Pardew’s first half-season, but at the start of the next campaign, Krul became recognised as No1.

His consistent performances helped Newcastle to a fifth-placed finish in 2011-12, while his best days are surely still ahead of him.

Other contender: Steve Harper

Right-back: Daryl Janmaat

Janmaat may have only been at Newcastle for a matter of months, but he has already made a huge impression.

Strong in the tackle, good going forward and possessing strong leadership skills, the Dutchman looks set for a fine career on Tyneside.

He was pushed closely for this position by Mathieu Debuchy, but the Frenchman struggled to settle at first, whereas Janmaat has hit the ground running.

Other contenders: Mathieu Debuchy, Danny Simpson

Left-back: Jose Enrique

Pardew may have only worked with Enrique for just over half a season, but the Spaniard is the best left-back Newcastle have had in recent times.

Enrique grew considerably as a player during his time at Newcastle, and moved to Liverpool in 2011 in acrimonious circumstances.

His partnership with Jonas Gutierrez on the left flank will be long remembered, though, and he just edges out Davide Santon here.

Other contenders: Davide Santon, Paul Dummett

Centre-back: Fabricio Coloccini

Arguably the first name on the teamsheet is Coloccini, who has been an undisputed regular throughout Pardew’s tenure.

The Argentinian took over the captaincy from Kevin Nolan in 2011, and although he has had some dips since the transfer saga of January 2013, looks to be back to his best.

A cultured and classy defender, Coloccini’s place in this team was never in any question.

Other contender: Steven Taylor

Centre-back: Mike Williamson

Williamson has often been derided during his time on Tyneside, but he has been there throughout Pardew’s reign and has proved some of his doubters wrong.

Newcastle’s central defensive options have been largely unchanged over the last four years, with Williamson or Steven Taylor playing alongside Coloccini, barring a troubled spell for Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.

Taylor has suffered from injuries throughout that time, though, meaning Williamson just pips him to this spot.

Other contender: Steven Taylor

Defensive midfield: Cheik Tiote

Tiote’s form has been inconsistent since his stellar debut campaign in 2010-11, which also coincided with Pardew’s arrival at the club midway through the season.

However, Pardew is a huge fan of the Ivorian, and when he is on his game, there are few better players of his type in the Premier League.

There is certainly no one to compete with him for this place, with Tiote undoutedly the No1 defensive midfielder at Newcastle over the last four years.

Other contenders: James Perch, Vurnon Anita

Central midfield: Yohan Cabaye

An easy choice. Cabaye oozed class during his two-and-a-half years at Newcastle, and his influence was made all the more clear by the club’s collapse in form after his departure.

His performances were central to Newcastle’s qualification for Europe in the 2011-12 season, and he was again key in a more advanced role in the six months leading up to his departure this January.

Cabaye is not just the best central midfielder of Pardew’s time at Newcastle, but one of the best midfielders to have played at the club in the Premier League era.

Other contenders: Joey Barton, Jack Colback

Central midfield: Moussa Sissoko

Sissoko’s best position has been debated throughout his time on Tyneside, and it finally appears to have been found: as a rampaging force through the centre.

He simply has to be in this team, and some of his best performances – including his stunning two-goal home debut against Chelsea, when he embarrassed Ashley Cole – will live long in the memory.

The Frenchman is now showing his best form, and has the potential to go on to great things at Newcastle.

He just pips Kevin Nolan to this position, with the former captain playing an important role in Pardew’s first six months at the club.

Other contenders: Kevin Nolan

Right midfield / forward: Hatem Ben Arfa

Ben Arfa thrilled and infuriated in equal measure on Tyneside, and in the end it was right for both parties to go their separate ways.

However, the Frenchman did provide some stunning moments at Newcastle, including two of the club’s most memorable recent goals – solo efforts against Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers.

Ultimately, the forward did not reach the heights he should have at United, but his contribution was important nonetheless.

Other contender: Jonas Gutierrez

Left midfield / forward: Loic Remy

Remy’s best position was undoubtedly up front during his time at Newcastle, but he also made a great impact at times from the left.

The Frenchman only spent a season on loan at St James’s Park, but his goalscoring ability was clear to see, and he scored 14 times in the Premier League.

He just pips Jonas Gutierrez to this position, with the Argentinian having struck up an excellent partnership on the left with Jose Enrique over the years.

Other contender: Jonas Gutierrez

Striker: Demba Ba

Pardew has had a number of first-choice strikers over the last four years, but the pick of them – just – has been Ba.

Sixteen goals in his first season – the majority of which came before Christmas – helped to catapult Newcastle into Europe, while he scored 13 times the following campaign before leaving for Chelsea.

Papiss Demba Cisse has the potential to jump ahead of him into this team over the coming months and years, but for now, Ba just keeps the likes of his compatriot and Andy Carroll out.

Other contenders: Papiss Demba Cisse, Andy Carroll