Can Newcastle enjoy a resurgent season? Here's the lowdown on what's new at St James' Park...
Despite making a promising start last season, Newcastle limped over the line after Christmas and will need new impetus for 2014/15. Alan Pardew remains and with a host of savvy acquisitions, he’ll be hoping for an improved effort. The Magpies boss has already mentioned the Champions League as a target so with the squad bolstered by some exciting new additions expect Geordie ambitions to be as high as ever.
Jack Colback has crossed the Tyne-Wear divide in a high-profile switch, but most of Newcastle’s work has been on the continent where they continue to show plenty of nous when it comes to sniffing out a bargain. Siem De Jong, Remy Cabella and Emmanuel Riviere appear likely to form a new-look front line with Loic Remy’s loan deal having expired and Shola Ameobi leaving the club after 14 seasons in the first team.
Brother Luuk’s loan move didn’t pay off last season but hopes for Siem De Jong are rather higher with the arrival from Ajax likely to be asked to make Newcastle tick from a No.10 position. In fact, Pardew has even dabbled with a 3-5-2 formation in pre-season as he explores how to get the best from his new signing. This one has the potential to go either way and the success of the transfer could have a big impact on Newcastle’s season.
Meshing everything together is the challenge. In recent times, Newcastle’s signings have tended to come in clutches with lots of acquisitions in the 2011/12 season but few the following summer; lots in January 2013 and then very little in the next window. Against the backdrop of the St James’ Park scrutiny, the pressure will be on Pardew to find the right balance and to achieve that he will need the arrivals from overseas to adapt quickly.
Sky Bet Title odds – 750/1
- The Magpies racked up 15 last-man tackles in the Premier League last season, more than any other side.
- No side won fewer points from losing positions in the Premier League in 2013/14 than the Magpies (3).
- New signing Remy Cabella created 81 goalscoring chances in the French Ligue 1 last season – only Mathieu Valbuena (90) created more.
When Newcastle lost Yohan Cabaye in January he was a huge loss to the team and they didn’t seem to recover from that blow. They had a great spell before Christmas before a dreadful finish and I’m sure Alan Pardew would have preferred for their season to be the other way around. But Newcastle are a mid-table side and I don’t expect anything more from them this year. They have a few players who can produce some magic and they seem to know the French market very well, having recruited a couple more Frenchmen this summer. I don’t see them as under pressure to go down but Pardew will want a good start after a few murmurings about his position last year.
Possible Newcastle XI
- de Jong