BIRMINGHAM ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 15: Goalkeeper Steve Harper of Newcastle United wins the ball ahead of Nikola Zigic of Birmingham during the Barclays Premier League match between Birmingham City and Newcastle United at St Andrews on February 15 2011 in Birmingham England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
This is the first of a series where we'll review the 2010-11 player by player, then give you an opportunity to grade each player yourself.
At 36, Steve Harper is by far Newcastle's longest-tenured player, but 2010-11 was the first season in the Premier League that he entered the year as the Magpies' clear-cut #1 keeper. His tenure didn't last long, however, as he sustained a shoulder injury in the first half of the September 18 victory against Everton. He missed the next 11 matches and returned to the squad in Alan Pardew's first match, a 3-1 victory over Liverpool. He had season ending knee surgery with 6 matches left to go, putting his total number of games played at a disappointing 18 games. Now, his age and the play of backups Tim Krul and Fraser Forster (on loan to Celtic) have created a three-way goalie controversy, which may mean that Harper may never play a full season in the Premiership, a somber realization indeed.
Follow the jump for more on Steve Harper's season (and a poll).
When he played this year, Harper displayed the confidence of a grizzled veteran, even if he was a bit slow at times. His distribution was characteristically brilliant and he was directly responsible for the creation of several goals. Above all, he was as consistent as you can be when you only play about half the season.
High Point of the Season
Newcastle 5, West Ham United 0 - Harper wasn't particularly tested, but he did face 10 shots and kept a clean sheet. More than that, he was involved in two of the goals - one on a clinical sequence wherein 9 Magpies touched the ball before Leon Best finished, and another on a sublime free kick taken in the back half of the pitch. It was a great day for Newcastle, and though Best stole the headlines with his hat-trick, Harper had just as much to do with the win.
Low Point of the Season
Stoke City 4, Newcastle 0 - Two of Stoke's goals came from shots taken within 10 feet of the goal, which in almost all cases is the fault of the defender. In this case, not so much. Harper gave away possession in the opening moments of the second half and Jermaine Pennant was happy to capitalize. The other two were on him as well. Danny Higginbotham gave the Potters a 3-0 lead just a few minutes later with a great free kick from outside the box, but one that Harper should have been able to get in front of. Ricardo Fuller came on in the 88th minute and touched the ball once - a goal from an angle that Harper should have had covered. He struggled all day long with Stoke's style of play, failing to take charge on several occasions and giving the Potters extra chances.
Games: 18 (6-6-6)
Saves: 46 (67.6 SV PCT, 19th in Prem)
Goals Scored Against: 22 (1.22 GAA, 8th in Prem)
Clean Sheets: 5
How would you grade Steve Harper's 2010-11 season?
A (1 vote)
B (11 votes)
C (12 votes)
D (2 votes)
F (0 votes)
26 total votes