Newcastle finished in 5th position last season and that has raised the bar of expectation for Alan Pardew’s wards. That finish will also propel the team into Europa League involvement.
Newcastle fans were not the cheeriest lot at the start of the season a year ago. Carroll had left the side and the signing of the likes of Santon, Cabaye and Ba did nothing to abate the collective gloom. But what followed, especially during the first half of the season was a dream, with Ba striking 16 times into rival nets as he carried the side to a fifth-placed finish. The striker also reveled in the company of his Senegalese compatriot, Papiss Cisse, who joined the side during the January transfer window.
Pardew is basking in the glow of a richly-deserved manager-of-the-year award ahead of a season during which he will have to contend with the challenges that accompany raised expectations. Europa League commitments will also bring their own set of challenges such as additional matches to be played with the accompanying injury worries, especially if the Magpies make it past the qualifiers. That would call for a sensible rotation policy to prevent player burn-out.
The team manager will be relieved at the recovery from a knee injury by Sammy Ameobi who will be joined by the attacking midfielder, Slovenian teen Haris Vuckic. Other midfield signings are Coventry’s Gael Birgirimana and Reims’ Romain Amalfitano. Australian centre-half Curtis Good is also part of the radical revamp that Pardew wants to effect.
Newcastle fans’ eyes are trained on France’s Euro 2012 star Debuchy, who has been on the team manager’s radar for a long time. Other possible signings include Ajax’s Vurnon Anita who can play both as a defensive midfielder and in a left-back position, and Brazilian centre-half Douglas who is currently with Dutch club FC Twente.
Pardew will also seek to hang on to the likes of Cabaye, Cisse and Tiote who should be joined by centre-half Steven Taylor and winger Sylvain Marveaux, both returning from injury. Injury has ironically played in Pardew’s favour in the case of Dembe Ba, whose knee condition has kept sides such as Rubin Kazan, Fenerbahce and Galatasaray from wooing the striker.
The Newcastle manager hopes to have Ba fit for a striking role at least 90% of the forthcoming season. The team will also continue to be served by skipper Fabricio Coloccini, in central midfield, and Tim Krul who was outstanding in goal last season. The feisty Ashley could prove crucial to the team’s fortunes, especially as the speculated return of Carroll has remained just that, mere speculation.
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Jinxatious is the Chief Editor of SportingAttitude.com
An avid writer, on an eclectic range of subjects, he brings to bear editorial experience garnered with a national newspaper in South-East Asia. He also has sportscasting experience, as a cricket commentator, and his passion for sport extends beyond Cricket, to Football, Tennis, and Olympic Sports.