Newcastle United season review – Investment must follow poor season for Magpies

Premier League – 16th

FA Cup – Third Round

League Cup – Third Round

Europa League – Quarter-Final

The 2012/13 Premier League season was not one of joy for Newcastle United, constantly looking over their shoulders as they were dragged into a lengthy relegation scarp.

The club boasted the largest injury list of the league for much of the season, desperately missing influential French duo Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye for long periods. Couple with this the sale of star striker Demba Ba for a minimal fee due to his release clause and continued uncertainty surrounding captain Fabricio Coloccini’s future, and Newcastle endured a campaign to forget.

Beginning with a win over Tottenham, Newcastle fans felt they were to continue where they had left off from last season after securing an impressive fifth-place finish. A steady start saw them lose only to Chelsea, beating Norwich and drawing against Aston Villa, Everton and Reading.

Sitting ninth in October masked their lack of fire power in front of goal. With Ben Arfa pitching in two, Demba Ba was the only other player to find the net, rescuing Newcastle with six goals in six league games and bringing his tally to 22 goals in 40 games – only Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Sergio Aguero had scored more. Papiss Cisse eventually bagged his first goal in the third round Capital One Cup defeat to Manchester United.

Wins dried up as the calendar year ended with the Magpies suffering eight defeats from 14 league games, picking up just 10 points. Losses to the likes of West Ham, Stoke, Southampton and Fulham pointed to their severe dip in form. At the root of this problem was Newcastle inability to pick up points away from home. The club secured just three points from draws, and failed to win away from home until the end of January. This included a 7-3 humiliation at the hands of Theo Walcott and Arsenal.

Despite poor results Newcastle were ticking over nicely in the Europa League. Just one defeat in the group stages meant a second-place finish in Group D was secured. The Magpies went on to reach the quarter-final stage of the competition, overturning stiff opposition in Anzhi Makhachkala in the round of 16 before falling at the hands of finalists Benfica.

Investment in January provided enough momentum to save Newcastle from an embarrassing relegation. While Ba left in a £7.5million switch to Chelsea, Newcastle scoured France to recruit no less than five French players – Yoan Gouffran, Moussa Sissoko, Massadio Haidara, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Mathieu Debuchy. While the club continued to struggle with injuries for the remainder of the season these additions boosted the club during the end of the season, with a 3-2 win over Chelsea a particular highlight.

While Newcastle still limped over the last hurdle, perhaps crucially, two of their six remaining wins came away from home, with Premier League status being secured at Queens Park Rangers. What the club need now is more investment, especially to replace the goals of Demba Ba. It would seem that Pardew has been given the dreaded vote of confidence, and now has more pressure than ever to deliver next season.

Manager – Alan Pardew: The start of the season saw Pardew handed a controversial eight year contract, and having scraped Premier League survival his future was cast into doubt. Eyes will be firmly on him to add to a squad ravaged by injuries and deliver a much improved campaign come August.

Player of the Season – Steven Taylor: At a time when the club needed men to rely on, local schoolboy Taylor remained solid throughout the season. He earned his first international call up despite injury early in the season, and while he did not manage to make his first international appearance, his fine form spanned over the whole year.

Turning Point – January transfers: Much-needed investment in a flagging squad proved to be their decisive factor in staying up. Before January the club had not won an away game in the league but managed two by the end of the season, securing Premier League status with a win at QPR.

Any Other Business: Newcastle were one of four teams to score the most goals and still lose a game, scoring three against Arsenal and Manchester United, 7-3 and 4-3 respectively. The only other teams to manage this feat were Reading, Norwich City and Swansea.

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