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Can Best be another working class hero?

By Lee Ryder on Feb 8, 11 08:48 AM


It's all gone a bit Paul Kitson for Leon Best hasn't it?

Just 12 months ago, when the Nottingham lad arrived from Coventry City a few comparisons with Andy Cole's arrival from Bristol City were quickly scribbled down at the time as the striker joined United's promotion bandwagon late on.

Like Cole, he came in late and hailed from the same city as the former number 9.

Unlike Cole, the goals didn't come to him straight away and Best found it tough to get past Andy Carroll and Peter Lovenkrands.

And like Kitson, who replaced Cole in 1995 in the not so legendary 28 shirt, he has now came in during the aftermath of the sale of a high profile star in Big Andy.

Then came his summer injury woe and then he was undeservedly branded by some as a flop just as he was coming back from injury.

His critics continue to fire the odd cheap shot but I'm certain that it's water off a duck's back for a kid raised in the tough backdrop of Nottingham's St Ann's.

I might be wrong but the ex-Southampton man who hails from a hard council estate appears privately seems to be rubbing his hands together at the challenge in front of him to prove football's versions of Lord Snooty wrong.

It's that sort of council estate grit, similar to the spirit of Kevin Nolan, Joey Barton or the even tougher upbringing of Cheik Tiote, that will serve Newcastle well this season in my opinion.

A hard working and streetwise ethic seems instilled to such characters and it's certainly showed at times this season in Newcastle United.

Best has scored four goals in five Premier League starts and for me that tally is a more than decent start to his top flight career, in fact it's excellent especially if he can continue it and most strikers would appreciate it.

You can only judge players on performances and Best hasn't done badly and if you only judge strikers on goals, his Premier League record isn't a bad one in black and white.

Giovanni Trapattoni is a big fan while it was Arsenal legend Liam Brady who recommended Best to ex-Newcastle boss Chris Hughton.

He's also got the respect of Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale, so his list of admirers is an impressive one.

I know for a fact that Andy Carroll was actually hoping to get a run in the Toon team with Best at some stage this season with the pair enjoying a great understanding in training but never seeming to get the rub of the green in a few run outs together in the Championship.

If you recall the away game at Swansea last season, it was actually Best's lovely cross that set up Carroll's header but that was about as good as it got for the pairing.

Best was a glowing figure after the game and certainly he caused Arsenal their fair share of problems.

After all he scored one, had one chalked off and won a penalty against one of the best teams in the land.

Hopefully there's much more to come.

Best has plenty to prove but also plenty to play for.

It should be interesting.

8 Comments

DMCtoon said:

I'm prepared to admit I might have been wrong about Leon Best, and I'm happy to do so. I know I'm not the only one however, because up until a couple of months ago, I've never come across a fan of this club that thought he was good enough. He's proving us wrong, getting better with every game, and deserves a place in the side at the moment, albeit slightly due to the fact we haven't got many others to choose from. If we go with two up front against Blackburn, as I hope we do, then Ranger and Best need a few starts under their belts. Lovenkrands just can't find any form this season.

Stevie in Iraq said:

There seems to me a bit about Leon Best's game that has gone unnoticed....his ability to be in the right place at the right time. He's also not frightened to have a pop at goal and with those two qualities in a striker, the only other ingredient he needs to succeed is service. Now he's getting that from Joey, but we still need to up the supply line from other areas of the pitch as we are not feeding enough balls into the strikers from the left and centre even though we have the players to do just that.

Jonas gets into a crossing position more than any other player in the team but just seems to lack confidence with his last ball. Maybe it's because he's naturally right footed, so lets try him on the right when Goslings back and Joey can still drift right to cross and deliver his set-pieces.

Andy cole got his goals because of his supply line which was better than any toon strikers ever had....he still needed a few chances to score a goal if you remember and missed some sitters....give Best that same calibre and volume of service and he'l get us goals i'm sure as he's a big stromg lump who has the presence tro frighten defences.

Over to you coaching staff..........

toonjoy said:

In life i believe everyone shoudl be given a chance so i find these anti-Best supporters cruel and ignorant if i'm honest. The lad never had a sustained run of games in the team firstly due to his injury and the fact AC was keeping him out of the team. Now that he has had a run of games, he proved his worth to the team. He is now rightly in the team and i'm proud of him. It's an opportunity for him due to the sale of AC and the injury to Shola. He seems a very popular lad in the dressing room and all the players seem to enjoy his presence.His background of guts and determination is what we need right now and we have that in abundance in the team. So Bestie keep proving your doubters wrong and make them eat humble pie.

Steve Rogers said:

1/ Cole was a hell of better player than Carroll
2/ Kitson was so-so; I think Best should be better than him
3/ Jonas has put in some decent crosses during the last two games and was one of an initially small handful who tried to take the ganme by the scruff of the neck on Saturday - but I'd like to see him on the right too, with Barton and Tiote in the middle

Ginola said:

When Ben Arfa comes back, i honestly think that will be the answer to our supply line.

I'd go:

................Best

......................Nolan

Ben Arfa......Tiote....Barton.......Jonas

Jose......Williamson......Colo....Simpson

.................Harper

Pat Paxton said:

Agreed, except I'd be tempted to go for Ranger instead of Nolan

Hoppie said:

Never mind Bestie give Ranger a good run in the team potentially he has more to offer!

toonagain said:

Ginola, that looks like an ideal set-up but i'd maybe drop nolan back, barton out to the right, bring jonas on for the last half hour when nolan's leg give up and move barton back inside. service will be the key for best without it i think he'll be short on goals having said that his positionl play is streets ahead of am-imoblie...

and i may go against what others are saying but i think Kuqi looks like a handful and think he will suit our team making a good forth strike option...

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Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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