NEWCASTLE United lost their “star” players in the wake of relegation – but Shola Ameobi thinks the club is far stronger without them.
Ameobi and his team-mates return to Aston Villa on Sunday for the first time since their agonising drop into the Championship the season before last.
Back then, big-earning Michael Owen, Obafemi Martins, Damien Duff and Mark Viduka wore black and white.
All four quit St James’s Park that summer, but Ameobi – on the pitch at Villa Park when their fate was confirmed – feels what the team has lost in talent, it’s gained in team spirit in the intervening two years.
With United needing around three more points to secure their Premier League status for another year, Ameobi – who took his tally for the season to nine goals with a strike in last Saturday’s 4-1 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers – is positive about the future.
“A few players have gone, but the players who stayed, and those who have been added, have only been good for Newcastle,” Ameobi said.
“I feel we’re in a better position now given the state we’re in as a team and a club.
“We have players who fight and play for each other week in, week out, which is what you need.
“After you’ve come up you know you have to work hard in every game to survive in this league.
“We’re haven’t got the so-called stars as we did two years ago, but for me we’ve got a far better team and far better ethos as a team.
“I think we’re in a far better position to deal with the pressures of the Premier League than we were two years ago.
“It’s looking good for us.”