After a day off, we are getting back at it with our 2015-16 player reviews. Today we stay in the general vicinity of right back but colored with a bit of central midfield as well. We are talking about none other than the man who didn't punch a wall, moved to right back and subsequently kept an actual right back by trade out of the lineup as the season wound down: Vurnon Anita.
Will: Quiet, diminutive, but a real workhorse. Anita rarely steals the limelight, unless of course you count that sublime goal against Manchester City that kept the dream of survival alive, at least for another couple of weeks. His effort is without question, but are there better midfielders who could take his spot?
Eric: Good ole’ Vurn is the Swiss Army Knife of the team at the moment and saw his stock rise significantly under Rafa’s short tenure. Mirroring Janmaat’s level of play, only in the opposite direction, Anita showed that he is more than capable of delivering strong performances on a weekly basis. While he has often been overshadowed in Newcastle's crowded midfield (I don’t think Colback is a strong partner for him) he surprised me with his ability to put in solid performances at the right back spot. A relatively quiet 28 appearances highlighted by a strong finish sums up the workmanlike nature of his Newcastle career. Overall grade: B-
Brian: Anita was a surprise filling in for an injured Janmaat (and it's worth noting Daryl would have missed time with the hamstring injury...but we remember the wall punch). I was hard on Anita most of the season, and to see him find consistency at right back was a welcomed "I was wrong". Looking at how he fared late in the season against the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City I have to believe he'll continue to excel under Rafa's watch as he matches up against Championship level quality. He may not be a star but he is reliable.
Logan: Given he was working through Achilles problems come January, I really was not too disappointed with Anita’s play. He floated well enough between the defensive and central midfield and came on quite strong at the end of the year once he slid into the fullback role. He’s under contract through next year so I would like to see if Rafa keeps him in that role and if he will continue to thrive, but he, like Janmaat, overall was simply serviceable. That being said his overall view on the year would determine if you want to look at him pre-injury or post-injury, because those were two very different players. From a holistic standpoint though, he left room for improvement, but comparatively was not a total letdown. B-
Jim: I think it's pretty clear that Vurnon Anita isn't ever going to be what we thought he could be when he signed on. Based on what we saw from him this past season, he may not have to be. He's not going to be a world-beating CM in the Premier League (and probably not in the Championship, either, for that matter). As has been touched upon above, it wouldn't be a stretch to say that his future is as a right back for this club. It is worth noting that of 13 "chances created" (according to Squawka), 7 of them came after his switch to right back. I don't really want to boil his whole season down to this switch, but it wouldn't exactly be unfair. He finally brought something unique to the squad (bang average or below central midfielders seemed par for the course... a dime a dozen.. what have you.) The way he was spraying passes from the RB position was reminiscent of that Swans match when Moussa Sissoko made Gini's next move happen with all those assists. Except Vurn did it over a stretch of games. Anyway - genera disappointment at CM, bright future at RB (if he'll have it.)
Composite grade: 2.1/4.0 (Bang average. C)