Signing of the season shows Chris Hughton's class
24 year old Cheick Tiote has brought what Alan Smith simply wasn't able to bring to Newcastle and it's turned them into a team who can rightly push for a top half of the table finish, not just avoiding relegation in the first season up.
ewcastle's two central defenders Mike Williamson and Fabricio Coloccini are both confident at dealing with balls in the air, but both remain a little slow and on occasion susceptible when the ball is on the ground and they have players running at them.
Whereas the striker turned midfielder Alan Smith couldn't dominate the area in front of his defence, too often leaving the centre backs exposed and vulnerable, Tiote now more than dominates that area of the pitch, to such an extent that Chris Hughton was even able against Sunderland to move Joey Barton to the right and to play two upfront, without fear of being overun by Jordan Henderson and Lee Cattermole in the middle of the pitch.
Tiote's old manager at FC Twente, the club Newcastle signed him from for £3.5 million, was former England manager Steve McClaren, who's words about his former midfielder said back in August now seem to have been proved correct; 'Now he will be even more suited to Premier League football. He's a very strong and athletic player. He's a natural ball winner, and he'll acclimatise very well to the English game.'
It is a perfect example of a manager choosing to spend a fairly small amount of money which he has at his disposal on a player who is so perfect for his team that the whole team instantly improves vastly. Buys like Cheick Tiote show Hughton's managerial sense and his awareness in the transfer market, proving that he is more than just a coach or an assistant manager there just to motivate the players, like some fans were saying in criticism when he first became manager.