Projecting Alan Pardew's Best Newcastle United Lineup
With the new Premier League season just days away, managers up and down the country are currently mulling over their line-ups for the big kick-off this coming weekend.
A wealth of new signings will boost the 53-year-old as he looks to improve on a disappointing run-in last time out, and with only a handful of injuries to report, he’ll be hoping for a promising start.
So with the finishing touches being applied ahead of Sunday’s opener against the champions, Bleacher Report looks at Pardew’s best starting XI.
The following is based on a 4-2-3-1 formation and has been picked on the basis of a fully fit squad.
Goalkeeper: Tim Krul
Unlike some clubs, where two goalkeepers are eagerly vying for the No. 1 spot, Alan Pardew has no such trouble as he leads his team into the 2014-15 campaign.
Tim Krul has been a safe pair of hands between the posts for the Magpies over the past four seasons, and the Dutchman is on the crest of a wave following his shootout heroics for Holland at the World Cup.
Behind him in the pecking order, Rob Elliot will continue to provide capable cover from the bench.
However, new signing Karl Darlow will hope to edge him out of the picture once his loan spell with Nottingham Forest has ended.
Full-Backs: Daryl Janmaat and Davide Santon
In terms of the left-back slot, pre-season has belonged to Massadio Haidara this summer, with the Frenchman featuring in all but one of the Toon’s eight friendlies.
Chosen ahead of Paul Dummett, the former Nancy defender looks certain to begin the new season under Alan Pardew, but that could all change once Davide Santon has returned from injury.
Currently sidelined with a knee problem, the ex-Inter Milan man should be drafted straight back into the side, but the onus is on Haidara to make the most of his opportunity.
Over on the right, Daryl Janmaat will be one of the first names on Pardew’s team sheet once the campaign is underway, with backup coming from fan favourite Ryan Taylor.
Centre-Backs: Fabricio Coloccini and Mike Williamson
Despite some iffy performances during pre-season, Newcastle United skipper Fabricio Coloccini looked back to his old self against Real Sociedad on Sunday and is a shoo-in to start the new campaign.
Some alarming lapses in concentration have blighted the Argentine’s summer, but he remains an integral part of Alan Pardew’s plans, and his experience and composure will be crucial.
For a spot alongside the 32-year-old, a three-way battle between Steven Taylor, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Mike Williamson is well underway, but the latter should get the nod.
Williamson has made great strides under Pardew and brings a no-nonsense approach to the Magpies’ back four that is sorely missing when the former Watford man is absent.
Central Midfielders: Cheick Tiote and Jack Colback
Only Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa has played more minutes during pre-season than Jack Colback, and his popularity in the dugout will see the 24-year-old start the season in central midfield.
His competitive, box-to-box approach is ideally suited to the pace of the Premier League, as is his willingness to get forward when the opportunity arises.
Alongside the former Sunderland man, Cheick Tiote will add the necessary bite to his team’s engine room and control play directly in front of the Magpies’ back four.
The Ivorian is currently missing with a calf injury and has only played an hour for his club this summer, but he remains a vital component in Pardew’s long-term plans.
Attacking Midfielder: Siem de Jong
While much of the talk this summer has centered around Remy Cabella’s suitability to replace Yohan Cabaye, Siem de Jong is a far more realistic candidate.
As a second striker or as a deeper-lying playmaker, the Dutchman will look to pull the strings for Newcastle United going forward—especially on the counter-attack.
Since Cabaye’s departure to Paris Saint-Germain in January, the Magpies have lacked a natural No. 10 who can dictate the play as well as chip in with his share of goals.
But in De Jong, Pardew may well have unearthed yet another bargain and will draft the former Ajax captain into his starting XI as soon as possible.
Wide Midfielders: Remy Cabella and Moussa Sissoko
While there’s little doubting Remy Cabella’s ability with the ball at his feet, his slight frame could see him better utilised out wide as opposed to a central-midfield role.
The former Montpellier man possesses natural attacking instincts, and his turn of pace and trickery will make him an instant favourite at St. James’ Park this season.
But the hustle and bustle in the centre of the park may be too much for the 24-year-old as he settles into life in the Premier League, and a spot on the left may help to ease him in.
On the opposite flank, there’s a feeling that while Moussa Sissoko’s best position may be through the middle, a pressing need to accommodate the French international may see Pardew play him down the right.
His obvious athleticism suggests a more central spot would be suitable, but given Hatem Ben Arfa’s exclusion from the first-team picture and Yoan Gouffran’s patchy pre-season form, Sissoko may find himself out wide.
Centre-Forward: Emmanuel Riviere
Of all the places in Newcastle United’s starting XI, the role of central striker has the biggest question mark hanging over it just days before the new campaign.
At the time of writing, and as Newcastle United’s attacking options go, Emmanuel Riviere seems to be the obvious choice to lead the line, with fellow new boy Facundo Ferreyra struggling for match fitness.
However, as the Evening Chronicle’s Mark Douglas suggests, Pardew is still hell-bent on bringing in a new centre-forward before this month’s transfer deadline, which would obviously change everything.
The names of Loic Remy and Alexandre Lacazette simply refuse to go away in relation to the Magpies, and the capture of either would push him straight to the front of the queue.