Ranking Newcastle’s best and worst foreign forwards

Chris Matthews-Darby Roar Rookie

By Chris Matthews-Darby, Chris Matthews-Darby is a Roar Rookie

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6 Have your say

    So another Newcastle Jets striker has bitten the dust as Aleksandr Kokko leaves after just one season to sign with Eastern Lions in the Hong Kong Premier League.

    It must be tough being a foreign player in the A-League with a high turnover and even higher expectations, and that pressure is no higher than in Steel City seemingly with ten forwards coming and going since the league’s inception. So let’s rate the best.

    Guy Bates
    Much was expected from Guy Bates when he arrived for the 2005-06 season being brought in from Newcastle United in the Premier League, but he only made three appearances in Australia failing to find the back of the net before departing at the end of the season.

    Bates has gone on to play for eight clubs since leaving the Jets scoring 54 goals in 169 matches.

    Donny De Groot
    Donny De Groot played a part in the 2009-10 season, the last time Newcastle made the finals. That’s just a coincidence because the Dutchman had no impact on the side playing four times and scoring no goals before leaving at season’s end.

    De Groot went back to the Netherlands where he stayed until retiring in the 2014-15 season.

    Edmundo Zura
    Ecuadorian strikers never seem to work out for Newcastle and Edmundo Zura was the first example. The ‘fool me once shame on you’ example. Zura was on loan at the club at the start of the 2008-09 season and failed to trouble the scorers in his seven matches. Zura’s best chance as hitting the post from the spot against Melbourne Victory but other than it was a failed move from a player Newcastle made their marquee.

    Zhang Shuo
    Similar to De Groot, Zhang Shuo was brought in for the 2009-10 season but the same can be said, as there is no coincidence his absence is the reason behind him leaving and the team not making the finals since.

    Shuo netted once in four appearances, a consolation in a 5-1 loss to the defunct Gold Coast United before being released at the end of the season, like so many before and after him.

    Aleksandr Kokko
    Things never went the way Aleksandr Kokko wanted his A-League career to go last season, declaring that he would outscore Melbourne City marquee Tim Cahill.

    Injuries and poor form hampered his stay as he only found the net once from 13 appearances. No wonder why Ernie Merrick didn’t stand in his way as the Finnish striker moved overseas.

    Mario Jardel
    When the owner wants a player at a club more than the manager issues are going to arrive. And so they did. Jardel rocked up to Newy with no boots and a few kilograms overweight for the 2007-08 season.

    Long gone was the player who represented Brazil ten times and score a tonne of goals for FC Porto and Galatasaray and the like. And gone was Jardel after 11 matches for the club. The Jets went on to win the comp without him so they didn’t miss him at all.

    Francis Jeffers
    Now Franny Jeffers wasn’t too a signing for Newcastle. The former Everton and Arsenal forward came to the club at 29 years of age and quickly forged a pretty decent partnership with his teammates including Marko Jesic, who he assisted a few goals.

    But unfortunately goals for himself is what he lacked scoring two in 26 matches between 2010-12. Jeffers is now coaching Everton’s academy.

    Edson Montano
    Remember how Edmundo Zura was the ‘fool me once shame on you’ example. Well Edson Montano was the ‘fool me twice, shame on me’. Again arriving on loan from a Ecuadorian club the forward played all 27 matches in the 2014-15 season where Newcastle finished last winning just three matches.

    Montano found the back of the net six times which was three times clear of the Jets’ next top scorer, but it wasn’t enough to save the Jets from the wooden spoon and he returned to Barcelona (not that one) the next season.

    Milos Trifunovic
    Milos Trifunovic was maligned in the 22 matches he played in the 2015-16 season but netting nine goals wasn’t a bad return at all. Most of the hate came from the fact four of those came from the spot and he went seven matches without a goal.

    The Serbian striker failed to see out the season, leaving for Kazakhstan.

    Milton Rodriguez
    The A-League didn’t know Milton Rodriguez for long, but they loved the time they spent together. Rodriguez arrived late but scored twice on debut as Newcastle came from 2-0 down to draw with Sydney FC.

    Rodriguez would score a further five times in his 20 matches including an away goal in the first leg of their semi-final against the Sky Blues. Rodriguez became a cult hero with fans wearing a head band and wig to look like the Colombian forward. He left at the end of the season but made a big impact while he was here.

    Emile Heskey
    Could Newcastle’s biggest and best foreign signing be anyone else other than Emile Heskey? Capped 62 times by England, Heskey spent a decade in the Premier League before coming to Newcastle in 2012-13 alongside Alessandro Del Piero and Shinji Ono.

    Although he didn’t have the impact those two had he scored five goals in his first five matches. The goals dried up, only scoring ten in 42 appearances. But the impact he had on and off the field can not be denied.

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    The Crowd Says (6)

    • Roar Guru

      July 12th 2017 @ 7:59am
      Griffo said | July 12th 2017 @ 7:59am | ! Report

      I was never as harsh on Zura. He actually would have been better suited as a ’10’ as he had good ball control and vision, but he was here for goals and they never came.

      His back story was that he had a young family, with his son and only child requiring some needs for health reasons, but their arrival was continually delayed due to red tape – Ecuadorian visa applications were handled via Venezuala or Colombia at the time iirc – and so he was both incredibly homesick and missing his family. Never good combinations when a striker’s confidence is measured in goals.

      I remember the final spot kick. Zura grabbed the ball and held it tight, kissing it and making all sorts of promises to it. We were all on our feet in the Upper Eastern grandstand, knowing his full story by then we wanted it to go in for him as much as the team.

      When it smacked the right post and went out for a throw-in you could see his shoulders slump as much as hear the collective crowd sigh, and just knew that could be the final shot for him.

      And so it was as he was on the plane back to South America that Monday when his family were further delayed with their application.

      In one of those ‘what could have been’ situations, we would have loved for him to score just once, just to see him don the spider man mask he was renowned for. Zura could have been a cult hero even more than Milton was, if only his family had arrived much sooner, and he put in a few goals.

      • July 17th 2017 @ 3:00pm
        Mato-Bateman said | July 17th 2017 @ 3:00pm | ! Report

        If I remember correctly, FFA didn’t allow Zura to put on the spider mask either. They mentioned this before the start of the season. FFA really know how to motivate a player.

    • Roar Guru

      July 12th 2017 @ 8:18am
      Griffo said | July 12th 2017 @ 8:18am | ! Report

      Shame for Kokko, he had potential but a bad run of luck with injuries – broken jaw in the Home F3 derby was the highlight – and he never kicked on, especially after Jones began to publically bag him as a ‘motivational’ tactic, and later squeeze on leaving the club in the January window.

      Now we hope Merrick can find someone much better for what is a hard but key position for us to fill.

      Merrick wants to apply a marquee contract for a good South American playmaker.

      Do we go Latino again for a striker and hope there is a good spine of ball players that will cause a rain of goals at Hunter Stadium? I’m willing to try with Merrick’s track record.

      McKinna is sounding out that an Aussie could fill the boots, but in the same breath indicates Burns is unlikely. It might leave McDonald as another option in that case but I’m not so sure there.

      • July 12th 2017 @ 9:42am
        Fadida said | July 12th 2017 @ 9:42am | ! Report

        I really liked Kokko. Similar to Trifunovic he played in a system that didn’t suit

        I actually think Heskey was pretty average

      • Roar Guru

        July 12th 2017 @ 1:11pm
        Griffo said | July 12th 2017 @ 1:11pm | ! Report

        Yeah I didn’t rate Heskey when he arrived. Zura had better control and was more aware, and would have done better than the team he was in at the time – similar to what you said Fadida.

        Trifunovic was sort of okay but nervy, maybe because of the expectation that was on him. He certainly had difficult opportunities presented to him, but a couple from memory that he should have scored. At least he was good from the spot.

        Then again having the big target man up front means having players around you that can score and create better chances for others, and a setup that doesn’t just solely rely on a big ‘9’ scoring all your goals, on their own 😉

        Edit: Given the above Kokko could well have done better if he wasn’t an isolated ‘9’, nor effectlvely given the boot so early in his first season, verbally at least.

        How much hinged on Kokko’s initial injury in the preseason China tour, the fallout of which cost Miller and then Trani their jobs…then Kokko picking up a calf injury in Round 2…which by Round 9 or so Jones was already demanding more of Kokko via the press.

        • July 12th 2017 @ 5:25pm
          Fadida said | July 12th 2017 @ 5:25pm | ! Report

          Agree Griffo. Would have been interesting to see Kokko under Miller

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