It was only a few years ago that Newcastle were in a complete state of disarray, with supporters against the club’s board while the team appeared to be on a terrible downward spiral. Bearing this in mind, it is simply incredible to see where the Magpies find themselves now. Even though they were playing Championship football only in 2010, the Sports Direct Arena outfit have risen superbly and finished last season in 5th spot. Following on from such a successful campaign, it now remains to be seen if Alan Pardew can take his side one step further. The bookies seem to think that a title hunt is well and truly off the agenda though, with some providing odds as high as 200/1 for Pardew’s men to finish 1st.
After finishing the 2010/11 campaign in a respectable 12th position, the Magpies were expected to fare similarly as they started last season. However, from the very start it was clear that something special was happening at the Sports Direct Arena, with Alan Pardew’s new-look side looking impressive from the very start. In the close season, Pardew made the surprising moves of allowing the likes of Kevin Nolan, Joey Barton and Jose Enrique to leave, which came just several months after star striker Andy Carroll was sold to Liverpool. Instead, the Magpies scoured Europe to put together their new side with the likes of Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse all arriving at the club. Such an approach was hugely successful and the Magpies were knocking on the door of the top four throughout the campaign, although their supporters were still absolutely thrilled with their final finish of 5th.
The club have seemingly followed the same transfer approach this summer, although only two players have arrived at the Sports Direct Arena so far. The first of these was Gael Bigirimana from Coventry, although with the midfielder being just 18-years-old, it would seem likely that the player has simply been brought in for the future. The other incoming player is Romain Amalfitano who Alan Pardew managed to sign on a free transfer from Reims. An attacking midfielder by nature, the player holds a high reputation in France and could turn out to be another of Pardew’s unknown gems. In a recent interview, the Magpies manager has confirmed that he wishes to add to these players, stating that he ideally wants a further three faces brought to the club by the end of the transfer window.
While Newcastle appear to have been quite reserved in the transfer market so far, Pardew has been much more willing to let players leave the club. The likes of Tamas Kadar, Peter Lovenkrands, Alan Smith, Ryan Donaldson, Danny Guthrie, Ole Soderberg and Sammy Adjei were all shown the exit once their contracts came to an end this summer. Another high profile exit was Leon Best, who joined Blackburn in a £3m having seen his opportunities at United limited last year. Pardew also brought in a transfer fee for Fraser Forster, although his departure to Celtic was hardly a surprise after spending the past two campaigns on loan at the Scottish outfit.
Up until recently, one could describe Newcastle’s form through pre-season as relatively impressive. However, Alan Pardew’s men blotted their copybook substantially after suffering a shock 4-1 defeat to Championship outfit Cardiff. Prior to that, the club had fared reasonably well in their summer outings. They had beaten the likes of Monaco, SC Braga and Hartlepool, while they had also recorded draws over Olympiacos, Fenerbahce and Den Haag. However, with the defeat to the Bluebirds being their last match before the Premier League campaign, it remains to be seen just how the result will affect their confidence.
Even though Newcastle haven’t really invested in the transfer market, our prediction is still going to be a successful campaign for the Magpies. With that being said, it could be argued that the club overachieved last term and with several other sides investing a lot of money in their squads this summer, we’re not quite sure if they can match their 2011/12 finish of 5th. Instead, our tip is going to be a top half finish, which will still be a superb achievement considering the fact they’ve barely spent a penny in the market this summer.