Premier League: 16th
FA Cup: Third Round
League Cup: Third Round
Europa League: Quarter Final
Everyone associated with Newcastle will be hoping for a change in fortunes for the coming season. An underwhelming and very disappointing 16th place finish highlighted severe problems with squad depth and team harmony, not to mention a lack of goals from an ever dwindling strike force.
However, the season to come should be approached with careful optimism, as first team injuries that plagued the entire season seem to be clearing up and the club are approaching the season with a strong looking first team. Signings from January should be fully integrated into the squad now, and while new additions have been hard to come by this may help the squad to settle.
The club has also managed to keep hold of their star players like Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa and Fabricio Coloccini, meaning they have maintained a strong core of players for the coming season. With their newly recruited French contingent now settled on Tyneside the Magpies stand a chance of opening the season in positive fashion. No European competition also means one less front for Alan Pardew’s side to compete on.
Yet fans have become increasingly disgruntled ever since the appointment of Joe Kinnear as director of football. Promises of transfer activity have come up short and there is a feeling that the club could sink back into relegation trouble this season despite keeping a strong squad. What has been at the forefront of criticism is Newcastle’s inability to capture any of their primary striking targets – only Loic Remy has so far been lured to the north east.
To remedy this the club could play Yoan Gouffran in his primary position as striker. An alternative would also be to integrate academy product Adam Campbell into the first team picture. There are high expectations that the young forward has a big future in the game, and Newcastle’s lack of striking options may be seen as a blessing to the young man.
What Newcastle need to do is carry more attacking threat. Even if the club does not manage to bring in any more attacking players, they have a core group which should be able to produce better quality going forward than last season. Pardew himself has said Newcastle need to start creating fear in their opponents when it comes to playing them, and a settled first XI may well help to get over the over reliance on departed striker Demba Ba.
Whatever formation Pardew decides upon, he will have three very strong centre midfielders in Cheick Tiote, Cabaye and Moussa Sissoko, who work well together and should be able to create more this time around. Whether it is Remy or Cisse preferred as a striker, or indeed a new face, they will be looking for a big season from Frenchman Ben Arfa. If he stays fit for the majority of the campaign, he will have a big part to play at St James’ Park in supplying the chances that were lacking last year.
Manager – Alan Pardew: With Newcastle flirting all too closely with relegation last season Pardew was the first to admit his team underperformed for much of the campaign. Eyes will be firmly fixed on him to deliver this term, and he has already expressing a desire to play more attacking football and make the Magpies a feared outfit again.
Key Signing – Loic Remy: While Newcastle have failed to utilise the transfer market quite as much as expected, the signing of Remy will no doubt add extra goals to a team that lacked a real attacking edge since the sale of Demba Ba. The Frenchman will ease the burden on striker Papiss Cisse while adding proven Premier League quality.
Key Sale – James Perch: James Perch completed a move to Wigan last month and while he is not a name always first on the team sheet, Newcastle may well miss the utility man more than anyone may anticipate. Especially if an injury crisis strikes this season much like last year.
Keep an eye out for – Adam Campbell: Having made his Premier League bow towards the end of last season, Campbell has continued to develop during pre-season, recently netting a brace against Gateshead. The youngster, having risen through Newcastle’s youth ranks, may well benefit from the lack of strikers brought in to St James’ Park.
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