Football

Alan Pardew and Newcastle face a crucial season

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A tenth-placed finish for a team such as Newcastle is no disaster by any stretch of the imagination, but it was certainly viewed that way by many of their fans last season.

There was a palpable sense of bitterness around St James' Park as they limped home, losing seven of their final eight games and conceding 19 goals in the process. A supporters walk-out during their match against Cardiff (ironically, a comfortable 3-0 victory for the Magpies) demonstrated the sheer exasperation over how the club was being managed.

Fans disillusioned

Perhaps fortunately for Alan Pardew, much of the anger was directed at club owner Mike Ashley for his business-minded approach to running the club.

"Under Ashley, the club has not strategy or plan to win anything,proclaimed a statement released by the Newcastle United Supporters Trust (NUST).

"As such; supporters have no dreams, however remote, to seeing our club win silverware or even come anywhere near to realising its vast potential."

A spokesman for the group, Mark Jensen, also stated: "Fans are way past caring whether Pardew stays or goes. He's seen as part of the problem and not the solution. Pardew is seen as a puppet. The vast majority want Pardew to go but they wouldn't believe it would change an awful lot."

Make or break 

This season is make or break for Alan Pardew. It seems unlikely Ashley will relinquish his hold over the club, regardless of the pressure from fan groups, whereas Pardew has been given one last chance to turn things around.

Unsurprisingly, he has brought in a number of players early during this transfer window. Promising young Spaniard Ayoze Perez, former Ajax captain Siem de Jong, talented Frenchman Remy Cabella and ex-Monaco striker Emmanuel Riviere have all joined and Newcastle will look much more threatening in attack and will hope to improve upon their poor goal difference of negative 16 from last season.

Versatile Jack Colback has also arrived in a controversial switch from rivals Sunderland and will offer a high workrate in a more defensive role.

While they have, much to the consternation of the fans, yet to bring in a central midfielder anywhere near the quality of Yohan Cabaye who departed for PSG in January, Newcastle are certainly building a much more balanced and dangerous team for the coming season.

It seems likely Pardew will look for one or two more signings before the transfer window slams shut - particularly a world-class central midfielder to fill that void left by Cabaye.

This season is absolutely crucial for Newcastle, Pardew and Ashley, with anything less than a top-eight finish likely to be viewed a failure.

Pardew is the only man at the moment that can turn their fortunes around and win back the fans, but his position will remain precarious and any bad run of form could see the spark of discontent turn into a forest fire.

His transfers so far have been promising and on paper, this already appears a stronger Newcastle side than last year. However, only time will tell whether he is the man to win back the fans or if he will become the first managerial casualty of the upcoming season.

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Topics:
Newcastle United
Premier League
Football

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