It has only been 5 months since Alan Pardew’s innocuous head-butt on Hull’s David Meyler, but the public perception it has created for the Newcastle manager has not been pleasant. The image of the club was damaged and many fans felt it was time for Pardew to pay for his unprofessional actions. Furthermore, the incident came just a month after Joe Kinnear had resigned from his questionable Director of Football role.
Kinnear’s role was questioned from the outset, with his ability to sign players being simply non-existent and for such a big club, fans were beginning to get agitated at how the hierarchy were running things. This discontent, worryingly, was not for the first time. Kinnear’s reign came to an abrupt end after the January Transfer Window shenanigans which led to Yohan Cabaye, the star of the Newcastle United side at the time, being sold to Paris Saint Germain and with the fans expecting reinforcements, none were forthcoming. With Pardew’s touchline ban and the Cabaye sale, it was certainly a season to forget for all affiliated with the club. Many predicted that at the end of season meeting, due to the poor performances coinciding with Pardew’s actions, Pardew may have been relieved of his duties. However, Mike Ashley had the dilemma of either recruiting players that could improve the side or fire a manager who he handed an 8 year deal and as a result, have to pay a significant compensation sum.
The observation of Mike Ashley is one of an individual who appears reluctant to spend and if there is an opportunity to cash in on stars, he often appears to do so. The profit made on Andy Carroll was an incredible £35m and was seen as very good business by the board and fans alike. On the other hand, losing Demba Ba was a tough one to take as even though his £7 million minimum fee release clause was triggered, losing Ba and midfield maestro Cabaye was still a bitter pill to swallow for the Geordies. The fans want stability and amidst constant rumours that Ashley is trying to sell the club, I personally cannot see it being too much longer before a rich foreign owner sees Newcastle United as an eye-catching project. The fans are so passionate about the club, the stadium is incredible and the Toon is a football mad area so the club has all the attributes to appeal to a wealthy foreign owner. Arguably, the fans just want an owner who can match their passion and ambitions.
It was only 2 years ago that Newcastle missed out on Champions League football on the final day of the season, but what has followed has been consistent below average performances with questionable desire. Hatem Ben Arfa’s future is one that needs to be resolved quickly and is of particular concern. There is no questioning his ability, his goal against Bolton a couple years ago demonstrated all the skills he possesses, however his commitment and attitude to the cause is one that constantly wavers. He apparently returned to pre-season overweight and coupled with his previous history of going missing in games, now may be the time to cash in if any potential suitors are interested.
Positively, Newcastle have had a successful pre-season on and off the pitch, with the only major first team player to depart being Mathieu Debuchy to Arsenal. Unlike on previous occasions where stars have been sold and not replaced, Newcastle were quick to act with the signing of Daryl Janmaat, who had an impressive World Cup with Van Gaal’s Netherlands side. Additional reinforcements have also been brought in through the likes of Jack Colback, who has been poached from arch rivals Sunderland, Ferreyra, De Jong and Perez. It seems that Newcastle’s love affair with French players will continue to blossom as they have already brought in Cabella and Riviere respectfully. There are still rumours that they are trying to bring in either Loic Remy, who had a successful loan spell with the Magpies last season, or long term target Anthony Lacazette, who is currently owned by Lyon.
With Newcastle’s signings and the crop of players they now have at their disposal, there is potential for the club to have a go at Europa League qualification. Keeping the likes of Tim Krul and Coloccini fit is essential to their chances as they are the backbone and leaders of the side. If this new crop of players gels fast then there is no reason to suggest otherwise as to why Newcastle cannot surprise a lot of people this season. However, if they continue their poor form from the end of last season, then the moans and groans from fans may put pressure on Ashley to give Pardew the chop. It’s never dull with Newcastle, that’s for sure.