5 Newcastle United Players with a Point to Prove This Season
With the new Premier League season just days away, attentions will naturally focus on the wealth of new talent that has arrived in England over the summer months.
But for a number of players at Newcastle United, the upcoming campaign represents a notable crossroads in their St. James’ Park careers.
With nine signings through the door on Tyneside, Alan Pardew’s starting XI for their opener against Manchester City on Sunday will have a fresh and unfamiliar feel to it.
Some of the squad’s more established names, however, have some bridges to build after a testing spell last term that saw the Magpies suffer a string of heavy defeats.
So as the top flight prepares to spring into life once more, Bleacher Report takes a close look at five Toon stars who have a point to prove once the action gets underway.
The signings of new strikers Emmanuel Riviere and Facundo Ferreyra will present a fresh challenge for Papiss Cisse—not that the forward needed any more encouragement to prove his worth.
The Senegalese international’s struggles were well documented last term, and a return of just two Premier League goals in 24 appearances underlined his obvious problems.
His immediate impact in 2012 left the majority of supporters open mouthed as one spectacular strike after another flew in.
But his reputation as a goalscorer to be feared has reduced dramatically of late, and another unsuccessful campaign this time around could see Pardew lose his patience.
As one of the few local lads left in the squad, not many players know what it means to pull on the black and white shirt of Newcastle United quite like Steven Taylor.
The defender has played at every level for the Toon, and he remains fervently committed to the Magpies’ cause despite losing his place in the team from the outset last season.
Ironically, it was against Manchester City on the opening day last time out that the centre-back had a rush of blood to the head and received a straight red card as a consequence.
With Pardew likely to start with Mike Williamson and Fabricio Coloccini at the heart of his defence, Taylor might need to wait for his chance, but when it arrives, he needs to grab it with both hands.
There was a time when Coloccini’s name was the first on his manager’s teamsheet—a calming, reliable influence that consistently delivered at the heart of Newcastle United’s defence.
Over the past two seasons, however, the Argentine’s concentration has wandered, and as a consequence, those around him have often suffered through a lack of leadership.
At 32, the centre-half remains an icon at St. James’ Park, and he enjoys a level of popularity only dished out to a chosen few by the Magpies’ faithful.
But the Toon skipper knows better than anyone that if he’s to attain that level of adulation, the heavy defeats that blighted the second half of last term simply have to stop.
As transfers go, Gabriel Obertan’s switch from Old Trafford to St. James’ Park has failed for a number of reasons—not least through a lack of game time under Pardew.
As it does every year, however, a new football season brings with it a clean slate, and the Frenchman will be hoping to finally get his chance on Tyneside this term.
Some promising form in pre-season, when most assumed he would be shipped out of the club, has pushed the winger back into the manager’s first-team plans.
And if he does nail down a regular spot in the Magpies’ matchday squad, the former Manchester United man’s pace could be a useful asset from the bench when tired legs take over.
Injury has plagued Davide Santon’s progress at Newcastle United of late, but when given his chance, the left-back failed to deliver on a number of occasions last season.
The enduring image above of the Italian came after an alarming 4-0 trouncing at Southampton—one of the worst performances in the club’s modern history—as the defender held his hands up to the travelling fans in an apology.
Missing for the start of the new campaign thanks to a knee problem, the former Inter Milan man’s path back to the first team could be blocked by Massadio Haidara, who has filled in admirably over the summer.
And if he does make it back into Pardew’s starting XI, there’ll need to be a visible improvement from the defender, or he could find himself back on the sideline for very different reasons.