The 2012-2013 football season for Newcastle United was something of a letdown.
After a strong finish in the 2011-2012 season that saw them 5th place in the Premiership and with a spot in the Europa League, this season saw the Magpies finish 5th from bottom in the Premiership table and without any silverware in the cabinet.
Lack of Strong New Additions
The club brought in two players who became regulars for the 1st team in 6.7M signing Vurnon Anita and 1M signing Gael Bigirimana but neither player had a tremendous effect on the club`s fortunes. The real weak point was still the defence and with only six clean sheets kept over the course of the season it`s clear that more money should have been spent on reinforcements.
This problem was compounded when Taylor, Simpson and other solid defenders were unavailable for some of the key games, including a big loss to Man United. Three defenders were indeed added to the squad, but their quality is still in question. Certainly they didn`t perform to the levels that were hoped for, but unfortunately that could be said for much of the Newcastle team.
Still, time will tell whether Mathieu Debuchy, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Massadio Haidara will become staples of the Newcastle team. Of the three, Yangi-Mbiwa has looked the sharpest so far but it always takes time to settle into a new side.
The Crumbling Premiership Season
From 5th place to 16th place is a hell of a drop. While the season started well enough with a win at Spurs, it quickly took a nose-dive. Much of the blame has to lie with tactical decisions that seemed to play certain players out of their natural position on quite a frequent basis.
Moussa Sissoko and Yohan Cabaye often found themselves playing in each other`s natural position and at times Sissoko was forced to try playing as a winger much to his obvious dismay. When the core team members from the previous (very successful) season are still intact, it can only be poor tactical decisions and perhaps some bad luck, that explains the drop in fortunes of Newcastle in the 2012-2013 season. Maulings from both Sunderland and then Liverpool towards the end of the season summed up their year in the Premiership.
Europa League & Cup Competition
In European action Newcastle eased through the qualifying round and managed to finish second in the group stages to Bordeaux, in a group that also contained Maritimo and Club Brugge.
This was followed by relatively easy wins against small Ukrainian side FC Metalist Kharkiv and Ruussian team FC Anzhi Makhachkala in the knockout stages. Ultimately the European adventure was cut short with a loss in the quarter-finals to eventual finalists Benfica.
In the domestic cups, Newcastle didn`t even have time to get excited, as they were beaten in their first FA Cup game by Brighton & Hove Albion in a huge upset and were ousted from the League Cup at the first opportunity by Man United.
Other Notable Happenings
The managerial future of the club was solidified when Alan Pardew was given a huge eight year contract extension. Of course, this being Premiership football, who knows if that means anything or not but it does show that for now at least the board are happy to stick with Pardew. Another season like this and they might be changing their tune however. The manager was also in the news for shoving a linesman in a Premiership game, which saw him receive a two match touchline ban.
Demba Ba left the club and agreed terms to move to Chelsea. After offers exceeding 7m were made it triggered a contract clause that allowed Ba to speak with other clubs. After a short period of confusion and disagreements the player eventually said goodbye to the club and headed to London to play for the Blues.
The Season Ahead
It`s clear just from looking at the statistics that Newcastle needs to seriously strengthen its squad. While a number of players were added to the side, it was a case of too little, too late. The key imports should have been made during the pre-season, allowing the new and improved Magpies time to hit their stride. Unfortunately a lack of stellar new players and a spate of injuries left the team exposed.
The rigors of European football also paid its price, stretching the side beyond its limits. Alan Pardew has to bring in some top talent and it would also help a great deal if he freshened up his tactics a little. Allow players to work from the positions where they are comfortable and promote fast, exciting football rather than endless set-pieces that go nowhere.
Fans of the club should stick by Alan Pardew and the team in the season ahead, even if it is a rough one. The constant changing of managers is not helpful to building teams that can have long-term success.
There is still a wealth of talent in the team and if there is one thing you can be sure of it`s that the Geordie fans will be loud and proud supporting the lads on the pitch like no-one else. Don`t forget to pick up the latest Newcastle United shirt so you don`t look out of date on the terraces.
Puma are once again supplying the official kit and you can even get the matching Puma football from sites like sportsballshop.co.uk. Let`s all hope that next season has a few more highs and a little less lows that the season gone. A little bit of silverware in that cabinet would calm a lot of restless fans nerves.