With the 2022/23 Premier League season already in the rearview mirror, this is the perfect time for our staff to hand out some awards for the campaign that was. Throughout the next few days, our staff will be sharing our picks for various season-long awards including our best players, most disappointing performers, best signings, and many others.
Feel free to disagree with us. In fact, we encourage you to call us out on our BS if you hate our takes and to tell us why we are wrong in the comments section below!
After naming our personal Most Value Player for the season and Best Young (U23) Player, today we have our writer picks for our Most Improved Player of the Year. Does our staff agree?
Elijah Newsome — Sean Longstaff
Sean Longstaff went from a player whose name was accompanied with moans and groans, to a player who was indispensable for Newcastle this season.
The thing about Longstaff is that he does everything thing that does not show up on the stat sheet really, really well, and unfortunately for him that has meant that he doesn’t get any shine until he’s not in the squad.
It was extremely noticeable when he was not in the side because the work rate of the midfield dropped off tremendously. Runners weren’t being tracked, balls were not been won, and overall he energy in the midfield was awful. Longy has turned from a player who might not have lived up to the hype into a formidable player that should be in this Newcastle squad for years to come.
Antonio Losada — Sean Longstaff
No more than maybe six, eight months ago most folks were talking about Longstaff as the “odd man out” of this New Newcastle.
Longstaff looked like just another local lad being left on the starting XI because of a lack of a better option. He was an Academy product, not the man who cost Newcastle a massive sum (Joe Willock) or the reborn Brazilian midfielder that fought for his place (Joelinton), or the shiny jewel of the first winter transfer market (Bruno).
How the narrative has changed of late, hasn’t it? Longstaff has become a stalwart in the middle of the Magpies' pitch. He played 33 games last season, compiled 2,500+ minutes, scored a goal (a goal!), and provided four dimes to his teammates. Those figures are the best in his career, and although the volume of play he got also nearly doubled his prior high in the Premier League, that’s not something to put on Longstaff’s con-column.
If there is someone poised to be the homegrown talent that stays put in the XI throughout the major part of the post-takeover Newcastle, I don’t think anyone is better positioned (and has proved to be capable enough of keeping that role) than Sean. And the lad has yet to turn 26 years old.
Graeme Bell — Jacob Murphy
I was going to say Longstaff, but he’s had enough mentions on this piece. So, I was torn between Jacob Murphy and Fabian Schär, I went with Murphy in the end due to how far he’s come. Murphy wasn’t even considered as being important to the side at the start of the season, now look! He is so dependable and he’s put in some fantastic performances this season. His attitude is infectious and you’d be hard pushed to find a player as popular as Murphy among the current squad. There’s so much more to come from Murphy as well, Howe is taking him to another level and I can’t wait to see how Murphy performs next season.
Adam Goffin — Sean Longstaff
Perhaps not as unlikely as Joelinton last year, but equally as satisfying to write up, Sean Longstaff was hands down the MIP at Newcastle this season.
Through 33 games, Longstaff scored 1 goal and provided 4 assists, which are hardly numbers to write home about, but more impressive than those is the tenacity and never-ending energy that Longstaff shows each game. He does the graft, the dirty work that is often so under-appreciated in a team to allow those in front of him to get forward with confidence that they’re not leaving gaping holes for the opposition to exploit.
Longstaff has gone from playing so well that he almost commanded a €40m transfer fee from Manchester United, to almost being shipped out for pennies to Everton, to now being a massively valuable part of this side. Eddie Howe has harnessed his abilities exceptionally well, and I can’t wait to watch Longstaff shut down Toni Kroos in the Champions League next season!