Newcastle United owe their supporters, following an uncomfortable brush with relegation from the Premier League last term, and a number of their players will feel they have a point to prove.
Several of the Magpies’ star names failed to perform consistently, and as a consequence, the club almost dropped out of England’s top flight for the second time in four years.
With the new 2013-14 season looming, many are waiting to see what improvements have been implemented by Alan Pardew and Co over the summer months.
So, with pressure on United to produce a far better campaign, we take a close look at five players who could play a huge part in turning Newcastle’s fortunes around.
It’s fair to say Newcastle United goalkeeper Tim Krul didn’t have an ideal time of it last term.
Injured early in the campaign whilst on international duty, the 25-year-old missed seven games in September and October, and sat out a further seven fixtures after damaging his ankle during a Europa League clash in February.
His misery was compounded when a dislocated shoulder ruled him out of the Magpies’ final five games and left him battling to be fit for the start of the new season.
The Dutchman missed a total of 14 league games during 2012-13, and the Magpies conceded two goals per game on average without him between the sticks.
His physical presence, positioning and shot-stopping ability make him a vital cog in the Newcastle machine, and provided he stays injury free, Krul could prove to be indispensable over the coming months.
If anyone was harbouring doubts about Fabricio Coloccini’s worth to the Newcastle United cause, the final three matches of last season would have quelled any lingering uncertainty.
The Argentine’s timely return to the side from a back injury coincided with the Magpies’ biggest trio of games of the season, and with four points secured from a possible nine, Premier League safety was assured.
This upturn in fortunes was no coincidence. Prior to their captain’s reappearance in the back four, Newcastle had conceded 20 goals in their previous eight games and won only once.
Indecision may have surrounded the international centre-back in January, as Coloccini sought a move back to his home country.
But his immediate future lies in Newcastle, and the sense of stability the 31-year-old imbues will be crucial next term.
There was a time when Cheick Tiote was the first name on Newcastle United’s team sheet for both Alan Pardew and the club’s supporters. But last season changed perceptions of the Ivorian midfielder.
Dubbed by some fans as a yellow card waiting to happen, Tiote did little to silence his doubters, picking up 12 bookings throughout the campaign and seeing red in the crucial Tyne-Wear derby in October.
It shouldn’t be forgotten, however, that the 27-year-old was an instant hit when he arrived from FC Twente for a fee of just £3.5 million back in August 2010, and he quickly endeared himself to the Geordie public with a string of solid displays in the holding role.
And if he can rediscover the kind of form that made him such a favourite on the terraces not three years ago, Tiote could become a significant component in the Magpies’ engine room once more.
After bursting onto the Premier League scene following his arrival from Toulouse with an assist and two goals in his first two games for Newcastle, Moussa Sissoko disappeared somewhat as last season wore on.
Such an introduction, perhaps, clouded the customary need for a settling in period, and despite his explosive introduction, the Frenchman’s form noticeably tailed off as the weeks went by.
Much debate surrounded his best position, as Alan Pardew insisted on playing the 23-year-old as a number 10 in spite of his reputation as one of his country’s most effective box-to-box midfielders.
But his obvious quality was visible from all corners of St. James’ Park on his home debut against Chelsea, and if United can harness his ability in the right area, Sissoko could have a huge part to play.
It’s easy to paint a team’s number nine as a key figure at most clubs, but in the case of Papiss Cisse, his importance to Newcastle United cannot be overemphasised.
Demba Ba took up most of the goalscoring responsibilities during the first-half of last season, but once the striker was sold to Chelsea during the January transfer window, the onus switched to Cisse.
And in light of Newcastle’s current search for attacking reinforcements ahead of the new campaign, Cisse’s contribution as any supposed new faces settle in could be vital.