After Alan Shearer lead Newcastle to the Championship before Chris Hughton brought them back up the following season, there really was a sense of doom and gloom surrounding the North East club. Mike Ashley was an incredibly unpopular owner and there was uproar when Alan Pardew was given the manager’s job.
However, thanks to some great signings and good leadership from Pardew, Newcastle had a great 2011-2012, finishing above Chelsea and Liverpool, as well as being just four points short of the top four.
Ed Harrison, from The Newcastle United Blog, has shared his thoughts on next season.
Scott the Red: What would have to happen this season for you to class this as a successful one?
Ed Harrison: To finish in the top six in the league table would be great, and if we can have long runs in the FA Cup and League Cup – and do well and have a long run in the Europa League we’ll be happy enough. The priority is the League, so finishing in the top six and qualifying again for Europe would be success.
STR: How do you feel about your club’s business in the transfer window this summer?
EH: We’ve brought in three very good younger players in Romain Amalfitano from Rennes, Gael Bigirimana, an 18 year-old from Coventry and defender Curtis Good of the Melbourne Heart in Australia, and Curtis is a 19 year-old
Australian U20 player. They all look excellent prospects and could be challenging for the first team next season.
We haven’t yet brought in any senior players, although we are supposed to be close with Ajax midfielder Vurnon Anita, although a fee has been agreed as I write this. We would hope to sign Mathieu Debuchy the French international right back from Lille, and maybe even Andy Carroll back on loan, but only at a decent price. So at this time it’s been disappointing we haven’t signed more players – but there’s still three weeks left.
STR: Who do you think will be your most important player this season?
EH: Yohan Cabaye, Cheick Tiote, Demba Ba, Fab Coloccini and Papiss Cisse are all big players at Newcastle. If I had to select from these five great players I’d go for Papiss Cisse, and if he can keep up his goal-scoring prowess he showed in the second half of the season, Newcastle will have another great season.
STR: How do you rate your manager’s ability to take your club forward?
EH: Very highly – Alan Pardew has done a fantastic job since he came in to replace the very popular Chris Hughton, and Alan has a contract through 2016, and we hope he stays at Newcastle through that time, because we will have been very successful.
STR: Would you take Andy Carroll back?
EH: Yes – Liverpool never ever played to his strengths and if Andy returned to Newcastle we think he would be as good as ever. It seems that owner Mike Ashley wants him back and Alan Pardew rates Andy very highly. But Mike will only take him back if he can get a good deal – Newcastle do not overpay for their players.
STR: If you could pick one United player to have in your squad who would it be?
EH: Wayne Rooney – next question?
STR: Who do you think will win the league this season?
EH: Manchester United.
STR: Good man. Cheers.