Vital summer ahead for Newcastle

by Martin Lindsay

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

With Newcastle’s Premier League survival recently confirmed manager Alan Pardew will already be planning his end of season activity in what could be a make or break summer on Tyneside.

The Magpies host West Brom on Sunday in their final game of the season, with an eighth place finish still possible for both sides.

It’s been a similar story for this pair after winning promotion from the Championship together last season, with a mid-season managerial change to go with mid-table finishes in what has been a successful return to the top flight for both.

However despite Newcastle’s success this term, the Magpies have an important summer ahead of them. Following on from the rebuilding process from Chris Hughton’s successful reign, this end of season will prove to be pivotal as Pardew attempts to regain the status of a club who have competed in the Champions League and Championship in the last ten years.

Of course if you’re expecting Newcastle to be competing with Europe’s elite in the near future then unfortunately you will be left disappointed. Continuing to rebuild slowly is Pardew’s task, but to do so the Magpies must hold on to their best players, otherwise a second relegation to English football’s second tier wouldn’t be out of the question.

Pardew was in the fortunate position of inheriting a side with a core of good Premier League players. The likes of Joey Barton, Kevin Nolan and Jose Enrique were joined by Cheik Tiote and Hatem Ben Arfa in the early stages of the season, but it will be the willingness to sell prize asset Andy Carroll in January that will worry Newcastle fans. Enrique and Barton have also recently been linked with joining Carroll at Liverpool, but in order to establish themselves in the top half of the Premier League next season it is vital that the Magpies rebuff such approaches.

Whether or not Pardew has the money from the sale of Carroll at his disposal to strengthen his squad remains to be seen, but keeping the nucleus of his side together is as important as new recruits.

If Enrique, Barton and Tiote remain at St James’ Park, and Newcastle are successful in their pursuit of an established top flight striker, Pardew will have a side capable of improving on this season’s achievements.

However if speculation proves correct and departures ensue the Magpies will face a difficult campaign next term. Lingering in the bottom half of the table at best will not be deemed acceptable by the Geordie faithful, who after years of disappointments deserve a side worthy of competing at the right end of the Premier League table.

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