The mood on Tyneside is difficult to judge going into the season, given the existing precarious nature of Alan Pardew’s position as manager, but the new signings have given the fanbase a boost. It has been a decent pre season for the Magpies with their win over Schalke being a particular highlight as it showed their prowess in the final third, especially the pace and power they possess on the counter. This could be a style of play they use a lot this season, especially away from home as they will look to counter attack incisively given the type of players they have signed this summer.
Last season they started very well, even threatening to challenge for Europe around Christmas time after a series of impressive wins against the likes of Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester United, but they fell away in the second half of the season, mainly due to the sale of Yohan Cabaye. Despite tenth being a decent finish for Newcastle given the minimal expectations going into the campaign, Alan Pardew ended the season under extreme pressure. It got to the point where the atmosphere was so toxic that Alan Pardew was unable to leave his dugout without being booed to a horrific extent.
It will be crucial for the side to start well and their opening six games are promising, once they get the opener against Manchester City out of the way. Although it can be best to play a big side early in the campaign when they have yet to get in their stride. If Newcastle are languishing near the bottom of the table after the opening six games, then Pardew may be put out of his misery. Mike Ashley will be a lot less forgiving after sanctioning seven new signings to date.
Newcastle’s squad is a lot better than it was at the end of last season, but it is debatable if they have managed to replace Yohan Cabaye and Loic Remy. The signings of Remy Cabella and Siem de Jong are the ones which were meant to plug the gap left behind by the French midfield maestro, who joined PSG in January. They both bring creativity to the league, while both are also able to contribute goals themselves as they have shown in pre season. If Pardew manages to find a system to get the best out of both of them, then Newcastle could have one of the most dangerous midfields in the league, with the likes of Cheick Tiote, Vurnon Anita, Yoan Gouffran and Moussa Sissoko also in contention for starting places. Meanwhile many predict new signing from Sunderland, Jack Colback to be in line for a major role this season.
The main worry for Alan Pardew is the attack. Last season Loic Remy scored 14 times and they will need a striker who can score a similar amount this campaign. Emmanuel Riviere looks likely to be the first choice striker going into the season after netting three times in pre season to date, after joining from Monaco, while Facundo Ferreyra has also joined to boost the attacking options. He is an intriguing player, who was tipped for big things in Argentina, but struggled in Ukraine. He could be a player who shocks people this season. Ayoze Perez is the third striker who has been brought in.
The main departure this summer was Mathieu Debuchy, who left to join Arsenal for £12m. He was one of the standout performers last season, but a move to a Champions League club was too much to resist for the right back in his peak years. However the club were quick to secure the signing of Daryl Janmaat, who starred in the World Cup for Holland. He should be good enough to fill the void left by the Frenchman. Shola Ameobi has also left the club.
Cheick Tiote will be key to the side this season as he can anchor the midfield, allowing the likes of Moussa Sissoko, Siem de Jong and Remy Cabella to get forward and create opportunities for the team. Although he gets a lot of criticism for his discipline, his yellow card rate has fallen a lot in recent seasons, while he has only ever been sent off once in the Premier League for Newcastle. The Ivorian is also excellent at retrieving the ball from the defence and relaying it to the other midfielders, he doesn’t often lose possession. He returned to his best form last season, with a pass success rate of 86.63% and a tackle success rate of 65.09%. He has been appointed one of the vice captains alongside Siem de Jong, which shows how key he is to the Newcastle side. If the midfielder has a good season, so will Newcastle.
Newcastle are set to have an improved season after a flurry of decent signings this summer, plus they have managed to hold on to all of their big names apart from Debuchy. They have the squad to really compete this year, with the likes of Rolando Aarons, Mehdi Abeid and Ayoze Perez adding a bit of depth to the first team pool, which has eluded Newcastle in recent seasons. Alan Pardew needs a quick start, but he has been provided with the tools to get one. This side needs a minimum of a top ten finish, but they should be aiming to improve on last season’s finish of tenth, possibly even pushing into the top eight. Although Pardew has spoken about the Champions League, that is a long way off without more sustained investment over the next couple of seasons.