Towards the tail end of last season, the glum looks that were present on the face of the Newcastle fans were a good indication of how bad things were going. After a promising start, Newcastle had imploded and were spiralling down the table. Without a manager on the sidelines due to the eight match ban he was serving for head butting a player to a homesick captain and a shot shy front line, the only thing that stopped Newcastle from being relegated was time itself. If the season had continued for another two months then this summer’s planning may have been drastically different. But after a summer of spending which has seen eight new players arrive at St James Park, Newcastle started the season with a renewed vigour and enthusiasm for the beautiful game.
Yesterdays defeat to current champions Manchester City was not as one sided as the score line suggests. In fact Newcastle took the game to City in a match that has regenerated the faith in the Geordie army. Newcastle fielded six new faces over the course of the 90 minutes with each one looking like good acquisitions. The summer arrival of Remy Cabella after months of will he, wont he speculation has given Pardew’s team the creative spark it has been lacking since the departure of the highly influential Yohan Cabaye to PSG. In the past, Pardew would have turned to fellow Frenchman Hatem Ben Arfa to take up the mantel but with the player failed to step up last season leaving the Newcastle boss with no option than to find a replacement. His search was intensified when Ben Arfa turned up to preseason overweight and out of condition which has now lead to the player been placed on the transfer list with no future at St James Park. However Newcastle fans need not fear as in Cabella they have a creative player who looks destined to be a fan favourite at the club.
Supporting Cabella in midfield was Jack Colback who had controversially crossed the divide between Sunderland and Newcastle in the summer. Any doubts about his desire to play for the club were dismissed early on with a tough challenge within two minutes which brought back memories of David Batty to many. Colback, alongside Sissoko and Anita looked comfortable on the ball and ran his heart out for ninety minutes in a performance that should ensure he becomes a permanent fixture in Pardews starting 11. In defence, the only new addition was Dutchman Daryl Janmaat at right back. A straight replacement for the departed Mattheiu Debuchy, Janmaat looks accomplished as a defender and should add further quality to Newcastle’s struggling back line.
The emergence of Paul Dummett, Alun Armstrong, Shane Ferguson and Rolando Aarons is also an encouraging sign that the clubs youth development program is starting to bear fruits. Whilst the likes of Aarons were acquired several years ago rather than grown from scratch, they have still needed the time and energy of Newcastle’s youth coaching staff to get them ready for first team action. Regardless of where they came from, the Geordie faithful have always given their new youth players a rousing ovation, which can be intimidating for the best of people. Aarons in particular receive a fantastic welcome as he made his Premiership debut on Sunday against Manchester City. After impressing in pre season, the Jamaica born winger was given a 17 minute crash course in life in the Premiership against arguably its best team. The youngest didn’t manage to turn things around for his side but did show enough to ensure that he will play a role in Newcastle’s season this year. The 18 year old was not the only youngster making his debut with Spanish striker Ayoze Pérez also entering the fray. Having arrived in the summer from Tenerife for an estimated €2 million fee, the Newcastle fans were looking forward to seeing who exactly this kid was and why Pardew was so keen to land him. Coming on for fellow new boy Emmanuel Riviere on the 80th minute, it took him only 2 minutes before he started to demonstrate who he was. Running on to a through ball, he showed good pace and composure to control the ball, pull it back inside Martin Demichelis and angle a shot past Joe Hart. Unfortunately a sliding challenge by Fernandino clipped the ball wide but gave a clear indication to the Newcastle fans what they can expect from this exciting youngster.
The club still has Siem De Jong and Facundo Ferreyra to come into it making this Newcastle team one of the strongest n the past few years. However how the season unfolds is still to be seen but early signs indicate that Newcastle should be able to repeat the form that they showed in the first six months of last season. Whether they can continue with that form after the Christmas break is another matter all together.