Newcastle United season preview: A talented squad but always close to self destruction

Blog by: Max Clayton Rob
pardew

Last Season
16th. Newcastle scraped survival, a very poor season for them. Hard to imagine this was the same team that the season previous finished 5th in the Premier League and qualified for the Europa League. Abysmal runs in the domestic cups also put Newcastle to shame. On the up side, and rather surprisingly, they did reach the Quarter Finals of the Europa League.

Off-season report
Papiss Cisse has been the major worry for Newcastle after his initial refusal to wear the club kit because of their new sponsor ‘Wonga’. Luckily, the club have come to some sort of agreement with him. Newcastle needed to make some decent signings to have any chance this season and French striker Bafetimbi Gomis fits the bill, they just need to get that deal finished. The signing of Loic Remy on loan could also be a clever move. Outs – James Perch and Danny Simpson – two very useful players.

Season objectives

Survival: Newcastle somewhat fell to pieces last season and they will be looking to get back into shape and progress back into a safe position in the PL. Although Joe Kinnear has made it clear that he is aiming for a much higher finish this would be one great turnaround and is highly unlikely. Cannot see any real push for trying to get a cup as the main focus will be survival.

Manager
Alan Pardew. The 2nd longest serving manager in the league . Yet, most likely to be the first Premier League manager to be fired after Joe Kinnear became Director Of Football.

Strengths
Although the squad is paper thin, there are hugely talented players in the first team. The likes of Ben Arfa, Debuchy, Krul, Cisse and Sissoko give them real quality. At full strength they are a match for the biggest sides in the league, especially at home, and look to have goals in them if they keep their key players fit.

Weaknesses
With a goal difference of -23 last season Newcastle need to both tighten up their defence and somehow score more goals. An unfortunate amount of injuries last season revealed the weakness of having a slightly older team and also a squad that is possibly too small for such a highly competitive league.

Key Player
Papiss Cisse will remain the key man. Without him last season Newcastle could possibly have been relegated, as his last minute injury time goals against both Stoke and Fulham, gave Newcastle a very vital 6 points. Cisse is an old fashioned forward, a real poacher, and if the team deliver the correct ball to him then he will more than likely score. Needs to bounce back after a disappointing campaign last time out he needs to recapture the form the made him a star two years ago

It’s a big season for
The majority of the team. They lost form last season from injury, most notably Ben Arfa (who only started 16 PL games), Yohan Cabaye (who missed 12 PL games) and also The Magpies captain Fabricio Coloccini (who started only 22 matches in total)! The challenge this season will be whether they can remain fit and motivated.

Emerging star
At only 16 years old, French import Olivier Kemen is certainly young. Listed as an academy player, there is a good chance Kemen will get to play in the first team a couple of times at least. He sees himself as the new Alex Song but this remains to be seen, although he is a talented player. Another reserve player that may just make the grade is defender Kevin Mbabu, who impressed some of the senior players at Newcastle during group training.

Prediction
At the moment, Bottom Six is looking likely for Newcastle.

A real lack of signings thus far leaves them in virtually the same position as when they ended the season. Even though the couple of signings they have made/are likely to make are great that alone is not enough to get them out of the mess, especially as they have got rid of a couple of handy players. Arguably in a worst position they need to move fast to avoid embarrassment this season.

However, without the added pressure of Europe that Newcastle faced last season, and hopefully with a few less injuries, they might be able to rebuild their team to get back to the standard expected from them.

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