Plenty of decisions face Alan Pardew this summer
The 2012/13 season has finally come to an end and not a minute too soon for Newcastle United fans.
A 16th placed finish just 12 months after stunning the Premier League by finishing 5th is undoubtedly not good enough for the expectant Magpies. Manager Alan Pardew—despite being under pressure from fans who continue to call for his head—will need to strengthen his squad in the summer if Newcastle is to get back to the heights they scaled just a year ago.
But which areas need improving most for the Geordies?
The following slides are a guide to what could happen at St James’ Park over the summer, according to rumours, confirmed departures and personal opinion.
Feel free to comment and give your opinions on what needs to change at Newcastle United this summer!
Captain Coloccini is set to leave Newcastle this summer
31-year-old Fabricio Coloccini could be a huge loss to Newcastle when the transfer window opens at the beginning of July.
The Argentine—who almost left St James’ Park in January amid speculation he was homesick—has an undecided future on Tyneside, as hometown club San Lorenzo plan to lure Coloccini back to South America.
Had it not been for the amount of time left on Coloccini's contract, he may have left in January but decided to stay and help his side to Premier League survival.
If Coloccini does go, a replacement will be needed, and despite the arrival of Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa this January, another centre-back will be needed to provide cover for the Frenchman, along with Steven Taylor.
There haven't been too many names linked with a move to St James' Park so far, but an experienced stopper would be ideal for a Newcastle side that don't have much experience in their own final third.
Losing their captain would not be a good start to the summer for Newcastle but they have had time to prepare for any loss, with rumours of Coloccini's departure surfacing as early as January.
Cisse has been under pressure this season
If one thing is for sure this summer, it is that Newcastle will sign another striker this summer.
Papiss Cisse has been relied upon ever since Demba Ba left for Chelsea in January and has struggled to find the kind of goal scoring form that seen him net 13 goals in his first 15 appearances last season.
Geordie veteran Shola Ameobi hasn't stepped up to the plate in terms of starting matches, while youngster Adam Campbell is a raw talent that will most likely flourish next season.
Alan Pardew has has confirmed he will be in the market for two new strikers and refused to rule out a second swoop for Loic Remy, although the allegations of rape surrounding the French striker will likely see Newcastle look at other targets.
Those targets will almost certainly include a potential Tyneside return for Andy Carroll, who Pardew sees as the perfect man to spearhead next season's attack.
Ben Arfa has been charged with making chances all season
One of the main areas where Newcastle have struggled this season is the chance-creating department.
The Magpies have found goals hard to come by at times this season and much of that has been down to the lack of creativity in midfield.
Hatem Ben Arfa missed the majority of the season with a serious hamstring injury, while Yohan Cabaye missed 13 games with a groin strain over the busy Christmas period.
Sylvain Marveaux has showed encouraging signs of progress, although he is not the same kind of impact player as someone like Ben Arfa is.
More players who can provide a final pass are needed for Newcastle, perhaps along with some wingers to provide more crosses for the front men.
Pardew has not settled on a formation for his side
4-3-3, 4-4-2 and 4-2-3-1 have all been used at some stage this season by Newcastle.
At times, each system has looked successful in its own way, but the lack of consistency in the tactical department has left the team looking unfamiliar when asked to find a way through a stubborn defence.
That has left the team without a go-to plan for times of crisis, which has ultimately led to the Magpies launching the ball from back to front in the hope of a lucky knockdown and goal.
With more comfortable passers in midfield, Newcastle could learn a shorter passing game which could be successful. With a target man up front, the Geordies could adapt to a more direct style.
This season, the hybrid between short and direct play hasn't worked to Newcastle's advantage and has restricted the impact of players like Ben Arfa and Cabaye.
Could Pardew be on his way out?
OK I'm playing Devil's advocate slightly with this one.
However, Alan Pardew is under massive pressure from Newcastle fans, after they watched an arguably stronger side than the one that finished fifth last year, finish 16th this season.
The poor tactics, delayed transfer deals, pitiful post-match comments and huge expectations could prove to be Pardew's undoing, as he starts next season with doubters to prove wrong.
It will have to be a huge turnaround to convince all on Tyneside that he is the man to turn the fortunes of Newcastle around. Perhaps another season like the one that saw the Magpies qualify for the Europa League would suffice.
With the safety of his eight-year contract meaning he is virtually unsackable, Pardew will certainly be in charge come the opening weekend of next season. He will have his work cut out, with expectations still remaining high as Newcastle head into a season where they will be without the distractions of a Europa League campaign.