As we head into the 2013-14 Premier League season, it's probably time to make annual the "Eleven Days of Newcastle" series that we did last year. Starting today, we'll preview the squad one position per day which should lead us to the final installment being a morning reading on the day of the opener v. Manchester City. There are a few new faces (the January purchases and Loïc Rémy) and an underwhelming season to temper what was a largely optimistic assessment of Alan Pardew's men 12 months ago. Our first position up: Goalkeeper.
24 league appearances, 1.67 goals per game, 4 clean sheets
1.67 saves per goal conceded in 2012-13
The preseason of 2011-12 featured a battle for the starter's gloves involving Tim Krul, Fraser Forster and Steve Harper... well, largely it involved Krul and Forster. Alan Pardew gave the gloves to Krul and has not looked back. After 38 starts and 15 clean sheets in the 2011-12 season, Tim Krul didn't manage his first clean sheet until the 3-Dec match v. Wigan (3-0), ending up with 6 total clean sheets for Newcastle 26 appearances (2 in the Europa Leage v. Metalist Kharkiv). Injuries in September (international duty), February-March (Jonathan Cristaldo's late challenge in the Europa League) and the end of the season (shoulder injury against Sunderland) and would end up missing 14 league matches.
In spite of falling way short of the numbers that he put up in his first year between the sticks as the starter for Newcastle United, Krul was still streets ahead Rob Elliot statistically and was roughly equal to the numbers posted by veteran Steve Harper in limited playing time early in the season.
10 league appearances, 2.0 goals per game, 1 clean sheet
1.1 save per goal conceded
Installed as the preferred backup at the start of the season despite concerns from many (well... specifically me) with regard to his ability level, Rob Elliot somehow managed to make us all a bit better about him while conceding an alarming 2 goals per match in the league. In spite of rumors regarding a purchase of Jeroen Zoet, Elliot will start the season again as the preferred backup to Krul.
6 league appearances, 1.33 goals per game, 2 clean sheets
1.67 save per goal conceded
Steve picked up a handful of early season appearances to add to his final match or Newcastle against Arsenal. The club were always going to move on following the season and Harper is now with Hull
City AFC Tigers. Leaving the backup spot to 20-yr old Jak Alnwick.
One of the few players who has survived both recent Academy/reserves purges, Alnwick has only 6 non-league and 2 cup appearances for Gateshead on his CV. Even if Newcastle manage prolonged cup runs in the (insert sponsor here) League Cup and/or the FA Cup, it is unlikely that Alnwick will see much more than bench time.