After a convincing 2011-2012 campaign, marked by the advent of players like Yohan Cabaye and Demba Ba, the 2012-2013 season leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of many Magpies fans. Indeed, after an awful first part of season, Newcastle encountered a lot of difficulties to win games they would have won without trouble one year ago. How a team used to play for the European spots find itself struggling to stay in the Premier League ?
First of all, injuries. For many observers, it appears like the main reason of the weakening of the Toons this year. Ben Arfa, Coloccini, Cabaye, Taylor or Krul among many others stayed on the sidelines during this season, sometimes on a long-term period. It has been very hard for Alan Pardew to compose a regular starting line up, with all these unavailabilities. Among players who stood out last season, some of them played only a few games this season, like Hatem Ben Arfa who stills spending a lot of time in the infirmary.
Beyond injuries, which can appears like an easy excuse, Newcastle had difficulties to find stability and consistency in its game. Of course, that is partly determined by injuries, but also by a lack of productivity some players offered or a bad use of them. For example, with all due respect to Jonas Gutierrez, it doesn't seems really relevant to me to make him play at left back when Massadio Haidara is on the bench. I know this standpoint will bother some readers, but some choices Pardew made the season where sometimes surprising. Add to this the transfer of Demba Ba, the long-term absence of Hatem Ben Arfa, and the departure of key African players to their continental cup like Cheikh Tioté, and you will obtain a season poor in terms of performance.
Alan De-Pardew had the good idea this winter to bring in the team French elements like Moussa Sissoko or Mathieu Debuchy to strengthen a squad in difficulty. Despite these moves, the team remained fragile and ineffective in many cases. So what to expect for next year ? The best Newcastle can hope is probably its players to stay healthy, which will help the team to built itself up and be consistent. Then, if some players could be added, especially offensive ones to help Papiss Cissé, attacks should be sharper and less sketchy.
It would be too easy to put the blame of this year unsatisfying results on misfortune, it's clear that some choices have served the team badly. However, next year should be better if bad luck spares the Magpies.