The centre-forward role at Newcastle United has been a poisoned chalice for many players who have failed to live up to legends of the past such as “Wor” Jackie Milburn, Malcolm “Supermac” MacDonald and of course Alan “Mary Poppins” Shearer.
No such problems for on-loan goal-machine, err, Joe Willock however, who bagged his seventh consecutive goal against Fulham on Sunday to close out the Magpies 20-21 campaign and become the first Newcastle player since Shearer, to achieve this feat.
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Arsenal’s January loss was certainly The Toon’s gain – If only a player of Willock’s calibre could have come along earlier, then there would have been no need to splash ridiculous amounts of cash on these Geordie misfits.
Put Dennis Wise in charge of football development at St James’ Park and you’ll end up with players of the calibre of Xisco, who checked into Tyneside in 2008 for £5.5M.
The Spaniard’s arrival signalled the end for manager Kevin Keegan, then in his second spell as Toon boss, who admitted that he’d never heard of the player who’d just walked into his dressing-room. Things got off to a decent start with Xisco netting on his debut, but that was to be as good as it got for the Spaniard who only scored another eight times during a five-year spell in the Premier League.
As Keegan jumped ship, The Magpies tried to off-load their misfiring striker back to his homeland following loan spells at both Racing Santander and Deportivo La Coruna, but both baulked at his 50K-a-week salary, which buys you an awful lot of Newcastle Brown Ale in the city-centre hostelries.
STEPHANE GUIVARC’H 1998-1998
There’s an old saying in football that you should never buy a player off the back of one successful World Cup. Back in 1998, Newcastle went against that advice by bringing in French World Cup winner Stephane Guivarc’h, the player whose surname has the most ridiculously placed apostrophe in the history of the game.
Guivarc’h may have picked up a winners gong alongside legendary players like Zinedine Zidane, Laurent Blanc and Didier Deschamps, but he failed to make an impression in the tournament failing to find the back of the net.
Three months after his unveiling at St James’ Newcastle knew they’d dropped a massive bolloc’k so they went north of the border, cap in hand to plead with Glasgow Rangers to take him off their hands. Incredibly, the “Gers” agreed, giving him a home for the rest of the season before off-loading to Auxerre, the club where he’d risen to stardom (apparently).
MICHAEL OWEN 2005-2009
When you look to bring in a top-quality striker you’re effectively looking for a 20 goals-a-season man. When The Toon paid Real Madrid £16.5M for Michael Owen in 2005, it seemed as though they’d finally got their man as the former Liverpool boy wonder fired in 26 goals – unfortunately for Mags fans, this was over a four-year period which saw Owen spend more time at Newcastle Royal Infirmary than at St James’ where he received the Andy Carroll award for the most injured player in the club’s history.
When Michael revealed that he’d only joined the North-East giants because Real had done him up like a kipper and refused an offer from Liverpool to re-sign him, regulars at The Gallowgate End let him know (from his hospital bed) that he was no longer fit to wear the famous black and white shirt.
Certainly, Alan Shearer never forgot this treachery, culminating in the two of them going toe to toe in a famous war of words on Twitter.
"I don’t need to justify myself to f****** Newcastle fans"
— Mirror Football (@MirrorFootball) September 3, 2019
JON-DAHL TOMASSON 1997-98
We all know how close The Magpies came to winning the Premier League in 1996 so what happens when the two men that spear-headed that emotional campaign are no longer available? It’s obvious – you go to the Eredivisie and pick up one of European football’s brightest prospects.
With “King” Kenny Dalglish now at the helm 12 months after Keegan’s famous on-air meltdown, Newcastle fans were dealt a double blow as Les Ferdinand was sold to Spurs and Alan Shearer picked up a serious injury which would sideline him for much of the season.
Left to pick up the pieces was young Danish striker Jon-Dahl Tomasson, brought in from Dutch side Heerenveen, but looking totally out of his depth in the rough and tumble of the Premier League.
His debut was one to forget, missing a couple of one-on-ones against Sheffield Wednesday in front of the St James’ faithful.
As the Geordies slipped down the table, Tomasson, about three-stone wet through, struggled with the physicality of the English game and at the end of the campaign, despite reaching the FA Cup Final where they lost to Arsenal, The Toon despatched the young Dane back to Holland where of course, he turned back into a goalscoring machine at Feyenoord.
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