This season has been an up and down one for Newcastle, with four men taking the headlines. The first would be Yohan Cabaye, who failed to secure a move last summer. The Frenchman became a key player for Newcastle again, until he was sold to PSG in January.
Many point to Newcastle’s downturn being down to the sale of Cabaye, but the problems run far deeper than that. Alan Pardew has never been fully accepted on Tyneside and this season saw his popularity fall even more, with several banners ridiculing the manager being present at the last three or four matches. However, the board have come out and said Pardew has their full backing going in to the summer, which highlights how importantly they view stability.
Unlike Pardew, the other two men are unlikely to remain at the club. Loic Remy has been a sensation since joining on loan from QPR, but the French international isn’t keen on a permanent move, while Hatem Ben Arfa’s fall out with the manager makes him look set to leave after an eventful spell on Tyneside. Newcastle enter the summer with more questions than answers. They will be hoping that a busy close season will see them find their form from the first half of the season. Newcastle haven’t signed a player on a permanent deal since January 2013, but it looks very likely they will back their manager strongly over the coming months.
Mike Williamson has been the stand-out defender for Newcastle this campaign. He was almost sold last summer, but he has since proven his worth to the side and secured a place in the starting eleven going forward. The former Watford defender successfully made 149 headed clearances, which isn’t a surprise given his tall frame. Moreover, he made 18 blocks successfully.
Cheick Tiote has attempted 106 tackles, more than any other player at the success rate of 65%. However, Mathieu Debuchy has completed the most tackles with 71 from 95, which is a success rate of 75%. These two players have been integral to Newcastle’s season, in particular before Christmas. It is not a surprise both will be at the World Cup this summer as they certainly have the quality to play at that level. Newcastle will be keen to keep both this summer.
Tiote has emerged as the heart of the side, therefore it’s not a surprise to see him leading the passing stats for the season, after he completed 1824 from 2094 passes. He has been played in front of the back four, often with two more central midfielders ahead of him, so his role is to move the ball from defence to attack, which is crucial given Newcastle like to play attacking football. However, Newcastle lost an attacking edge to their football when Yohan Cabaye left and that is highlighted by the fact he still leads in penalty area entries with 94.
Moussa Sissoko was the most effective passer in the final third, completing 369 from 506 passes. He has been used out of his natural position at right wing, but that has given him more attacking influence. He has attempted 101 crosses, which highlights how he has adapted his game to suit his new role.
Sissoko’s new role has seen him become more creative in the final third: he has made 77 chances, six of which were assists. With Cabaye being sold and Ben Arfa losing his place in the side, Newcastle relied heavily on Sissoko in the final third, next campaign they will need more creativity to avoid the goal drought they suffered in the second half of the season.
Mathieu Debuchy and Yoan Gouffran followed in the list of creative players, getting three assists each. The former was crucial to the attacking side for Newcastle, which shows his will to get forward from full back. Although the latter was originally a striker, he has made the left wing position his own and his hard working displays have made him one of the fans’ favourite with the Toon Army. His season tailed off, but he was superb in the first half of the season.
Only three players scored over five goals for Newcastle this season and they need that to improve. Loic Remy led the goal charts with 14 goals, he had a shooting accuracy of 49% with a chance conversion rate of 22%. The other two players were Yoan Gouffran (6) and Yohan Cabaye (7). Their impressive run in November and December was built around these three players. The side were playing attractive football and these three were all in great form in the final third. In fact, Gouffran went through a phase when he scored in five consecutive home matches. The season was a disappointment for Papiss Cisse who only managed two goals and suffered a serious injury during the run in. Meanwhile, Shola Ameobi finished his Newcastle career well with two goals in his final two matches at St James’ Park.
The season was one of frustration for Newcastle as they were in a great position going into the new year but a disastrous transfer window saw the side fall away and only just scrape a top half finish. They had an opportunity to sign one or two players to push on for a European place, but a lack of ambition has furthered the sense of disillusionment within the Newcastle United support. They need a big summer to get the fans back on side and if they start next season poorly, it’s only going to get worse for Pardew.