Alan Pardew must be counting down the days until the season ends. His Newcastle United side have endured a poor league campaign since the season kicked off in August, and only an incredible Europa League run has given the Geordies something to shout about.
In three months' time, the new season will start and expectations will once again be high for a talented Newcastle side. Since strengthening their side in January with five first-team signings, the Magpies will head into the new campaign looking to replicate their top-five finish of last season and maybe go one step further.
It will take a monumental effort to break into the top four of the Premier League, with Chelsea and Tottenham both expected to boost their numbers in the summer in the hope of putting pressure on both Manchester clubs for the title.
But if everything clicks for Newcastle, they could be the team that crashes the party.
The key players the Magpies boast have genuine quality. Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa, Tim Krul and Papiss Cisse form the spine of the team and are all elite players who can win points for their team in a split second.
Add to those the likes of Cheick Tiote, Steven Taylor, Mathieu Debuchy and Yoan Gouffran and you start to think the side could be every bit as good as some of the teams that have regularly finished above them in the Premier League in the last two seasons.
If Pardew can replicate his success of the January transfer window in the summer—albeit on a slightly smaller level—then Newcastle could be set for a good season. A central defender to replace the outgoing Fabricio Coloccini and a striker to share the workload with Papiss Cisse are the only major signings the Geordies need to have a crack at the top four.
As well as a couple of big-name arrivals, Newcastle need to have better luck with their injury situation if they are to keep momentum going. A huge injury list has severely affected Newcastle’s season and meant Pardew has struggled to keep his best team fit and available.
With these factors coming together, there is no doubt that Newcastle can threaten the top four next season. They will also have no Europa League involvement, meaning they will not have to deal with European hangovers on a weekly basis.
A squad like the one Newcastle will have, coupled with having only one fixture a week could lead to the Geordies bettering the finish they achieved in the 2011-12 season.
Only time will tell if the Magpies can challenge the Premier League’s biggest sides for a top-four finish but everything seems to be in place as they run down the remainder of one of their poorest seasons in recent years.