Yet another defeat in a forgettable year for all Newcastle fans may not be as black and white as their bleak season may suggest. The Magpies went down 1-0 to a Champions League chasing Arsenal on the final match day of a long and draining campaign that saw an unexpected 16th place finish in the Premier League, with many first predicting another strong show much like last season.
Many have criticized Newcastle since August, with their failure to buy in the transfer window and injuries seeing them sit just three points above the relegation zone come the New Year. It seemed January would offer some reprise for the fans following a recruitment drive of four French players arriving at St James’ Park, but despite a momentary shift in form the club slumped to just three wins from 13 league games setting up a tense finish to the season.
While form has been poor Sunday’s defeat should not be viewed on just the result by Newcastle fans. For much of the game Arsenal were matched by their northern opponents who, apart from some slack defending allowing Laurent Koscielny to hook home, held their own for much of the 90 minutes.
Some will point to injuries sustained to key players such as Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye throughout the season as holding back a side with the overall quality to challenge the top half of the table. Coupled with the long-term saga concerning captain Fabricio Coloccini and the club has not endured the best of times.
Newcastle prepared for their final game missing the likes of Cheick Tiote, Davide Santon, Steven Taylor and Moussa Sissoko, to name just four key first team players. The longest injury list of the whole division did not stop the Magpies putting in a competitive performance, however. This should give the suffering Newcastle fans reason to feel optimistic.
Lessons will have been learnt by the club from the transfer failings of this season, and it will not prove surprising to see new faces brought in during the summer. If key trio Coloccini, Cabaye and Ben Arfa are kept then Newcastle will move in the right direction.
Expectations do need to be realistic. The club has only been back in the Premier League three seasons with a squad that is still being changed and rotated. This season saw a Stoke side thought to be established in the top flight struggle to safety after five years in the country’s top division.
Pardew has admitted his side lack punch, and with Papiss Cisse and Shola Ameobi the only real strikers available since the sale of Demba Ba it is clear they will need to strengthen their attacking options.
While supports have struggled for a positive out look this season Newcastle managed to preserve their status in the Premier League despite their shortcomings. If Pardew manages to bring primary targets to the club early then things will start to look brighter for the Tyneside club.
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