It would have been former Newcastle United manager Sir Bobby Robson’s 79th birthday yesterday, had he not passed away back in 2009.
Robson was in charge of Newcastle for five years and it was the team he put together in the 2001/02 season that had the greatest success.
That squad of players are the last to top the Premier League table a significant way through the season wearing a black and white shirt, with wins away at Highbury against Arsenal and at Elland Road against Leeds putting the Magpies top around Christmas 2001.
The front six in particular played an entertaining brand of football, but how does that team compare to the one Alan Pardew is compiling at St James’ Park today?
It’s always hard to compare teams of different eras as you play off nostalgia with the excitement of the current team, but Newcastle’s current starting XI certainly stands up to be counted.
The spine of the team, with Tim Krul, Fabricio Coloccini, Cheik Tiote, Yohan Cabaye and Demba Ba is as strong as it has been for a long time, but is the eleven of 2011/2012 as strong as that of 2001/02?