Newcastle review

Flirting with relegation, saved by a French foreign legion - Graeme Bailey looks back at another fascinating season on Tyneside

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After finishing in fifth in 2012 and defying the odds, expectation levels at Newcastle had risen to their highest point since the days of Kevin Keegan.

But things have not gone as expected. Alan Pardew was handed a new eight-year contract at the start of the campaign, but they have spent most of the season flirting with relegation.

Reinforcements from France were brought in during January and that helped rescue Newcastle's season - but their presence in the top flight was only finalised in the final week of the season.

Player of the Year

It is rare for a player who has arrived in January to win a Player of the Year prize, but Moussa Sissoko's signing at the turn of the year from Toulouse was stunning. He made a huge impact and there is little doubt that, without him, Newcastle would be looking forward to Championship football.

Ratings Player of the Year

Unsurprisingly, Sissoko was ranked highest in the views of Sky Sports' reporters over the course of the season with an average rating of 7.2 from his 18 games. But, slightly more surprising was the vote of our reporters, who gave it to Papiss Cisse with a sizeable 7.9.

Breakthrough Player of the Year

Gael Bigirimana arrived from Coventry in the summer, and he was not expected to be involved so much. But he soon became a fans' favourite and the future looks increasingly bright.

Signing of the Year

Easy to pick for us here with Sissoko, who arrived for a bargain fee and played a major part in Newcastle staying up. The arrivals of Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Mathieu Debuchy also look very good pieces of business.

Could do better

Eight goals for your leading scorer is never good enough, and Papiss Cisse will know that he needs to improve on that next season.

Manager

Alan Pardew says injuries have prevented Newcastle from challenging in the top half of the table this season.

Handed an eight-year deal at the start of the season, few could have presumed the pressure which was to mount on Alan Pardew. But there is no getting away from the fact that this season has been a struggle for Newcastle and their manager. As long as he can make it through the summer, he will already have his mind firmly on improvement next term.

Jamie Redknapp's view

Newcastle and QPR have been the two most disappointing teams in the Premier League this season. To just miss out on the Champions League and then put in a performance like they have this season is pretty appalling from Newcastle. Their good players simply have not performed. Players such as Yohan Cabaye and Cheick Tiote have let themselves down and let the club down. It is typical of players that feel like they've cracked it but they still have a lot to do. Newcastle could have very easily gone down this year. They have got a lot of quality there but they have got to find a way of being a team again.

Fan's view (Alan Jewels)

Following Newcastle United comes with its ups and downs. We've had Champions League football, relegation, promotion... Yet somehow this season has been the strangest in my lifetime. We have a first XI that some of the top teams in Europe would envy, and yet here we are nursing the hangover of yet another relegation battle. While Newcastle's Europa League campaign was rather more fruitful, reaching the dizzying heights of the quarter-finals and providing a warm reminder of those floodlit nights under Sir Bobby Robson, it only enhanced what the Toon have been missing for too long. Whether or not we can hold on to the likes of Cabaye, Ben Arfa and Tim Krul - I don't know. One thing I do know is that Alan Pardew will have some explaining to do upstairs after Sunday's clash with Arsenal.

How would you rate Newcastle's season?

  • Over-achieved
  • Met expectations
  • Under-achieved