As the final whistle sounded at Loftus Road shortly before 5 pm on Sunday afternoon, a collective sigh of relief could be heard around Tyneside, as Newcastle United’s Premier League safety was finally confirmed.
Had the Magpies failed to win in the capital, they would have had to get something from their final game of the season—at home to Arsenal—to avoid potential relegation to the Championship.
Up until Yoan Gouffran capitalised on a mistake by Jose Bosingwa, the Geordies were in real danger of replacing Wigan in the bottom three with just one game to go. Fortunately, though, the Portuguese defender had a nightmare and gifted Newcastle two goals to lift them safe of the drop zone.
Planning can now start for the new season, and there are many things that need to be addressed at St James’ Park.
Alan Pardew has spoke about his uncertainty surrounding his future, stating that whether he stays in the hot seat at Newcastle is entirely up to Chairman Mike Ashley’s discretion. Despite fans pressuring for him to go, Pardew will almost certainly start next season in the dugout and with a packed home crowd expecting a repeat of the 2011-12 season, when the Magpies almost made it into the Champions League.
A replica of this season where Newcastle almost swapped Champions League dreams for Championship reality will simply not do for Pardew, who still has the relative security of his notorious eight-year contract.
Reinforcements are required to give the squad more depth in attacking areas, as Papiss Cisse has been unable to carry the burden of scoring enough goals for an entire team.
Newcastle have only managed 45 goals all season and with Demba Ba—who is still top scorer— accounting for 13 of those before departing for Chelsea, it shows just how much the Geordies have struggled in front of goal.
Alan Pardew has confirmed he will be in the market for two new strikers in the summer, meaning Cisse will be less pressured to come up with all the goals next term.
The main change that needs to happen though is not on the part of any of the players. Pardew must look at himself as he looks to change Newcastle’s fortunes around and sort out the mistakes that have damaged the Magpies’ season.
Long-ball tactics must be ditched and a playing style that utilises the strengths of Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa and Cisse must be employed, with no more route one punts towards the strikers in the hope that something will happen.
Secondly, a proper philosophy must be taken. Too many times this season Newcastle have led at half-time and tried to sit on their lead for the second 45 minutes, only to be picked apart by the opposition and pegged back.
The feeble postgame comments must also stop from the Toon boss. Too many times this season has he emerged after a game and frustrated fans with his clichéd mutterings. Newcastle fans don’t want to hear how their manager took a chance on a younger player which didn’t pay off, or hear excuses about injuries to so-called top players. Less excuses, more action.
But most importantly, Pardew must start playing his star players in their correct positions. Moussa Sissoko has been employed in an unfamiliar winger role at times this season and has lost all effectiveness as a result, something Pardew should have realised before he made the change.
Hopefully these changes will come as Pardew gains more experience as Newcastle manager, although if he starts next season as poorly as his side has played this term, his days in the dugout could be numbered.