Newcastle in 2014/15 – A new hope?

Read Man Utd in 2014/15 – Van Gaal must add experience to defence

Read QPR in 2014/15 – Stability needed for survival

Despite some promising performances in the first half of the season including defeats of Chelsea and Man Utd, Newcastle’s 2014 was an unmitigated disaster. Alan Pardew oversaw a catastrophic run of form leading to 13 defeats in the final 19 games of the season. The team were utterly dependent on the contributions of the departed Yohan Cabaye and the goalscoring exploits of the on-loan Loic Remy. If goals, or even chances, had dried up in attack, the Geordie defence was painfully weak – conceding 59 goals during the campaign, with only Sunderland (60), Aston Villa (61), Norwich (62), Cardiff (74) and Fulham (85) recording worse statistics at the back.

Their lack of squad depth and inability to galvanise in the wake of Cabaye’s departure meant that Alan Pardew’s tactics lacked conviction, and he set a poor example becoming embroiled in a headbutting scandal with Hull City’s David Meyler. The manager, in truth, was perhaps lucky to retain his position, however his task wasn’t helped by the lack of investment from the owner and the hapless Joe Kinnear’s inability to recruit. In the end, it was a miracle the club finished in the top half of the table, although it was clear there was a lot of work to be done, most notably in repairing Pardew’s relationship with the fans, who booed him (and Mike Ashley) incessantly during their final home game against Cardiff.

Aims for this season

Since the end of the season, Graham Carr, Lee Charnley and Alan Pardew have been working around the clock to land a number of high profile deals. Out went Mathieu Debuchy, Shola Ameobi and a host of host of fringe players. In came Remy Cabella, Daryl Janmaat, Emanuelle Riviere, Jack Colback, Ayoze Perez, Facundo Ferreyra and Ajax captain Siem De Jong.

Pardew’s aim will be to integrate these new players into a cohesive unit that creates more but concedes fewer goals. The club have made no secret about wanting to land a top striker and have been courting Alexandre Lacazette for months, however have done little to signal a centre back will be recruited – an area in which they are surely deficient in. If the team can show assertion in the attacking third and begin to take games to their opponents, then we may see a more spirited side, and more importantly, one less likely to capitulate.

Pardew will once again be under scrutiny, however, and will need to show his professionalism and man management to restore the faith the fans had for him in the 2011/12 when he led Newcastle to an impressive 5th place. An inability to start the season well could lead to the end of his tenure at St James’ Park.

Key summer signing so far

Remy Cabella. The diminutive playmaker will add excitement, creativity and a direct attacking approach that the team has been crying out for. The former Montpellier man had an outstanding season personally last year, scoring 14 and contributing five assists. In contrast, Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta managed three goals and seven assists. Cabella also bettered the Spanish midfielder in the categories of chances created (81 v 52) and key passes (76 v 45) so we can expect a much more potent attacking threat from the Magpies this year and more effective range of set pieces, a key element they were unable to replace in the second half of last season.

Cabella also has the ability to be a crowd pleaser and his deft touches and pre-season goals have already given Geordies renewed hope for the forthcoming campaign.

Predicted finish: 8th

Although only a slight increase on last season, I can envisage a much more positive campaign ahead, with Cabella, De Jong and Janmaat becoming instant fans’ favourites. If there is immediate cohesion and a star striker is recruited, this side, on paper, could be capable of challenging alongside Everton and Tottenham for a European place. Pardew could also do worse than improve Newcastle’s disastrous recent cup form to help instil a positive atmosphere inside St James’ Park once again.



  2. […] Read Newcastle in 2014/15 – A new hope? […]

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