A New Journey for Newcastle United Starts Against the Might of Manchester City

Dan Sheridan@@dansheridanContributor IAugust 18, 2013

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 30:  Steven Taylor of Newcastle United tries to block the header of Edin Dzeko of Manchester City during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Newcastle United at the Etihad Stadium on March 30, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

In terms of footballing contrast, Newcastle United and Manchester City were light-years apart at the end of last season.

Some three months later, with the pair thrown together on the opening day of the new 2013-14 Premier League campaign, that gap has grown exponentially bigger.

City finished in second place last term and set about reshaping their squad almost as soon as the final whistle had blown on May 19, replacing manager Roberto Mancini with Manuel Pellegrini within a matter of weeks.

On the pitch, the new man at the helm has invoked radical change at the Etihad Stadium, bringing in four top-class internationals for an eye-watering £90 million, whilst moving on the likes of Wayne Bridge, Kolo Touré and Maicon.

The stage is set for the Sky Blues to launch a full-scale assault on the top flight, with Bleacher Report’s Guillem Balagué tipping Pellegrini’s men to lift the title ahead of rivals Manchester United and Chelsea.

Some 150 miles north in Newcastle, however, the outlook is not so bright. 

With the need for reinforcements glaringly obvious following their brush with relegation last season, inactivity in the transfer market by the powers that be at St. James’ Park has rattled the club’s supporters.

The controversial appointment of director of football Joe Kinnear has merely exacerbated the situation, and at the time of writing, just one new face has arrived on Tyneside ahead of Monday night’s opener.

Not that that new face will have any impact at the Etihad. On-loan striker Loïc Rémy, who turned down a move to the Northeast in January, arrived from relegated Queens Park Rangers carrying a calf injury that could rule him out until mid-September.

As such, United look set to be minus a Premier League debutante on the opening day for the first time in 20 years, and Alan Pardew remains understandably keen to add to the squad.

As reported by Colin Young in the Daily Mail, the Magpies boss has urged Kinnear to bring in at least one more striker after a frustrating few weeks that has seen the club miss out on the likes of Darren Bent, Bafetimbi Gomis and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Such hesitancy on the recruitment front has instigated an angry response from supporters, with Toon fans taking to Twitter to vent their frustration:

But with the curtain-raiser a matter of hours away, such worries will be temporarily shelved, and Rémy and left-back Davide Santon aside, Pardew looks to have the rare luxury of a fully fit squad to choose from.

If Newcastle are to leave the Northwest with anything, the emphasis will be on the likes of striker Papiss Cissé and French midfielder Yohan Cabaye to come up with the goods.

With two home games in a row against West Ham and Fulham to come following their opening game, avoiding defeat could provide Pardew and Co. with a huge boost as they look to end a run of seven successive defeats to City.

And while Pellegrini’s men are clear favourites to take all three points, United’s manager knows the value of playing such overwhelming favourites this early in the season.

With a new boss in the dugout and new faces out on the pitch, the Magpies will be hoping last term’s runners-up will take time to settle in what is Pellegrini’s first competitive game in charge.

In a recent interview with the Newcastle Evening Chronicle’s Lee Ryder, Pardew spoke about bringing the "feel-good factor" back to St. James’ Park, and he could start by picking up a positive result on Monday evening.


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