Most New Year blogs tend to focus on the past 12 months or the January window, but, at Newcastle United, reflection brings only pain and just about every position is a priority for transfer chiefs.
Instead, after the passing of former player Pavel Srnicek, the conversation must turn again to goalkeepers. In the wake of Pav’s death, Tyneside tongues have talked of a two-part legacy left by Kevin Keegan’s number one.
While Steve McClaren’s back-up trio of Rob Elliot, Karl Darlow and Freddie Woodman may not be local boys, it is first-choice stopper Tim Krul who has followed in the late Czech stopper’s footsteps in becoming an adopted Geordie.
However, unlike Srnicek, Krul made the perfect start to life as a Newcastle goalkeeper and has rarely had to endure the ire of the crowd. Now, with Darlow struggling on his Premier League debut, United fans might need to take note of Pav’s progression through the 1990s.
Srnicek arrived from Banik Ostrava in 1991, and looked shaky in his early showings, before recovering to become one of the country’s elite goalkeepers in a great team.
Elliot, too, found the Magpies shirt heavy in his early appearances, but the disappointment at his current illness shows his own development. Barring a crucial last-gasp error against Everton, the Republic of Ireland international has done as much as anyone to keep Newcastle afloat this term.
Now, though, is Darlow’s turn to come through a sticky patch. While United had been linked with a move for Paris Saint-Germain’s Salvatore Sirigu, it looks as though the former Nottingham Forest keeper will continue in the role for the time being.
It is a posting that can see an individual quickly turn in this fickle sport from hero to villain, and vice versa, so Darlow need only haul the Magpies into the next round of the FA Cup to get the fans back onside.
Should he fail, however, remember Pav, who also started poorly but won a place in the hearts of many on Tyneside. Pavel was a Geordie, and a damn fine goalkeeper.