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Do Newcastle have to be wary of second-season syndrome?

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After a bizarre campaign last season Newcastle United managed a respectable 12th place in the Premier League table. Will they be able to build on that for the new season, or go the way of the likes of Birmingham, Hull City and Reading in recent years?

The magpies did well to finish 12th after a turbulent season both on and off the pitch. In the board room, fan’s favourite Chris Hughton was given his marching orders in mid December despite sitting comfortably in mid table.

So what lies ahead for the forthcoming Premier League season?

With under a month to go until the 20th Premier League season starts, Newcastle have strengthened with four new players. Senegalese hit man Demba Ba has scored goals wherever he has been and will add extra bite to the attack.  The creative presence of Yohan Cabaye will also give an extra dimension in the centre of the midfield. The French International has signed a five year deal and will be keen to impress in the World’s best league having won the French League last season.

Sylvain Marveaux also joined, on a free from Rennes. It was reported that Liverpool were interested in the 25 year old who opted to sign a five year deal. The left sided attacking midfielder has already been likened to former magpie Laurent Robert.

Hatem Ben Arfa has resumed full training after a long layoff from injury.  He will almost feel like a new signing as the Geordie faithful had only seen him four times last season, one of which included a fantastic goal away at Everton, a sign of things to come?

However, in football when new faces arrive, old favourites subsequently must leave. Last season’s club captain and top scorer Kevin Nolan decided to rejoin former boss Sam Allardyce at West Ham for a fee believed to be in the region of £3,000,000. Nolan scored 12 Premier League goals last term and will be missed.

There are still shadows cast over the imminent futures of Jose Enrique, Joey Barton, Jonas Gutierrez, Cheik Tiote and Nile Ranger- a striker widely regarded as the next big thing just two years ago. If European football is to be achieved, one would think that all of these players need to be kept otherwise it won’t be the Champions League in 2012, it will be The Championship.

Fringe players are also expected to leave. Tough tackling midfielder Alan Smith has his heart set on a move back to former club Leeds. Kazenga Lua Lua, Leon Best, Wayne Routledge and James Perch have all been linked to other clubs as well.

Alan Pardew has expressed his desire to add to the squad and is still in the hunt for a ‘proven front man.’  The Newcastle manager is expected to spend the money the club received from Andy Carroll’s record transfer to Liverpool. The England international scored 11 goals for the club last season and must be replaced if Newcastle are to have any chance of progressing.  The Tyneside club have missed out on Gervinho and Kevin Gameiro but are still believed to be interested in the prolific Turk; Mevlut Erding.  Other names been thrown in by the papers are Shane Long of Reading and Arsenal’s Nicklas Bendtner. The latter of the two was confident enough to self proclaim himself as the best striker in the world before last year’s World Cup. How did Denmark do?

At the moment, Newcastle doesn’t have a strong enough squad to be troubling the top ten and may find themselves in a ‘relegation scrap’ come May if star players leave. As stated, a proven striker is required and there wouldn’t be any harm in adding to the right side of midfield what with Lua Lua and Routledge expected to be gone. They could do a lot worse than finding cover for Danny Simpson after James Perch showed he couldn’t play with the big boys last year.

With a few key signings and retaining key players Newcastle will certainly establish themselves as a Premier League club but is talk of Europe five years premature?

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2 comments

  • Tom says:

    I think you over estimate the top 10, apart from the top 6 only everton have a much better squad than all the other teams, and then they’re cursed with injurys.

    Newcastles squad has an abundance of talent that other teams would dream of, Yes it needs more depth just in case, and If we lose Enrique he needs to be replaced. But other than that our squad and our style of play should be much more fluent and changable with impact substitutions unlike this season.

    Yeah of course theres risk but Its not that bad, 7th -11th is definatly achievable If the team Gels well.

  • David Dougan says:

    They might struggle a bit more, but I don’t see them having a problem staying up. I can’t see any of the newly promoted teams doing much, Blackburn haven’t gotten any better and Wigan will be down there too.

    The Premier League was pretty tight from 8th to about 13th last season, Newcastle could finish anywhere in there.

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