If you had told any Newcastle United fan this time last year that his side would finish 5th in the Premier League and just miss out on a Champions League spot, I think it’s fair to say their response wouldn’t be too serious.
However, from the moment NUFC kicked off their Premier League campaign, they never dipped below the bottom half of the table and for the majority of the season; they touched 4th spot alongside Spurs, Arsenal and Chelsea.
During the course of the season, they grabbed four points off Manchester United from a possible 6, including a 3-0 victory over Alex Ferguson’s side, marking a pretty historic season even at that stage.
Wins away at Chelsea, and countless other teams had people talking, and rightly so. Newcastle United were performing remarkably well, and the accusation of them ‘fluking’ their way to top end of the table was well and truly put to bed when the Premier League campaign came to a close in mid May.
Without delving any further into last seasons endeavours, I’m going to take a look at what Newcastle United fans can expect from the coming season. For the first time in over half a decade, Newcastle United will also feature in Europe, after the qualified for the Europa League.
So, just how well can Alan Pardew and co. fare out this season?
Signings so far:
1 – Gael Bigirimana: Signed from Coventry for less than £1m – Bigirimana has already impressed NUFC fans across the globe. Very similar to Chieck Tioté in his style, at just 18, he has a massive future ahead of him. Very obviously Tioté will miss quite a few games this season through suspension, so Gael will feature quite often in the Premier League, and indeed Europe this campaign. Keep an eye out for this guy, he looks like a right little gem.
2 – Romain Amalfitano: Yet another Frenchman with big potential. Signed on a free transfer from newly promoted Reims, Amalfitano can play attacking mid, or on the left-wing, so he’ll come in handy for Newcastle this season.
He has got some pace over short distances, and is very technical so will fit right in at St.James’ Park. At just 22, and a free transfer as well, he’s certainly one to watch.
I don’t think we’ll see very much of him this season unless there’s a ridiculous amount of defensive injuries, but in 3 or 4 years he could be a starting CB.
If you want to know more about him, read Neil Sherwin’s article on him here.
Of course while all the focus has been on incoming and indeed outgoing transfers – a lot of people are forgetting about the return of two injured players that will have the impact of two new signings.
Sylvain Marveaux, another French winger who came very close to signing for Liverpool before Newcastle swooped in, and local lad Steven Taylor, a dominant centre-back, both return from lengthy injuries and will very likely feature in the first team almost immediately.
Likely transfer: Vurnon Anita. The Ajax man is expected to complete a move to Alan Pardew’s men early next week for a fee of around £6m. He can play LB or CDM so he’s versatile and will play a large part in the coming season.
What can we expect from NUFC this year?
With European football back on Tyneside, it will be very much a juggling act that Alan Pardew will have to master if he wants to do well in both the Europa League, and in the Premier League. As we have seen with Fulham in years gone by, concentration on Europe can and will affect your performances domestically and often one must sacrifice either the league or Europe in order to succeed.
As a Newcastle United fan, it will be great to see our lads back in Europe but I think our prime focus has to be the Premier League again this season. In my opinion, this season will present a much tougher challenge in the league as both Chelsea and Liverpool – two teams NUFC finished above last season – will of a much higher standard this year with two new managers.
We’re in for a tough campaign, but all summer the team have been fine tuning their tactics for the new season. Alan Pardew commented just a few days ago that he is trying to implement a passing game this season, and it’ll be interesting to see just how different we’ll line up in just a few weeks time.
Only time can tell, but realistically, the coming season cannot compete with last seasons drama.
The 2011/12 season was truly the best I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching and if we can get anything similar to it this season, I’ll be a very happy chap.
It’s all about working towards our 5 year plan at Newcastle and if we make another step this season, that’s all we as NUFC fans, can ask for.
Season Prediction: 7th
First game vs. Spurs Prediction: 1-1