It has been a summer of frustration for Alan Pardew. He was thwarted in his attempt to sign Luuk De Jong, who chose to join Borussia Monchengladbach, he has been unable to agree a fee with Lille for Mathieu Debuchy, while a rather cheeky bid for Andy Carroll was rejected by Liverpool.
At the time of publishing, Newcastle are trying to complete a deal for Ajax midfielder Vurnon Anita, but the only two signings that have actually been completed are that of little-known Frenchman Romain Amalfitano and 18-year-old Gael Bigirimana from Coventry. Still, the good news is that Yohan Cabaye, Cheick Tiote, Demba Ba, Tim Krul and Papiss Cisse all remain at the club after, despite the big clubs sniffing around.
Newcastle have played eight games in preparation for the new season and have won just three. Those victories coming against Monaco, Braga and Hartlepool. Perhaps the most worrying was the 4-1 loss to Cardiff City last weekend. However, you can't read too much into this result as there was no Ba, Cisse, Cabaye or Haterm Ben Arfa. The real test begins on Saturday against Tottenham when these players will return.
Reasons Why They'll be Successful
They have kept the core of the squad which saw them secure a surprise fifth place finish. Pardew, working closely with chief scout Graham Carr, has assembled a talented squad which has bags of attacking talent. Cabaye is the sort of player Manchester United are calling out for, while Ba and Cisse scored 29 league goals between them. If they can maintain that form they will be a threat. With a defensive spine of Tim Krul, Fabricio Coloccini and Tiote, the Toon are defensively strong and will hope to once again push the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham.
Reasons Why Not
It will be hard to finish fifth this season. Chelsea have once again called on the fortunes of Roman Abramovich, while it is unlikely Liverpool will be as poor as last season. There are also two major concerns for Newcastle this year; can Ba and Cisse continue their prolific form and should they make a bad start will players be tempted to leave in January? Pardew worked wonders last season but hanging onto his best players will always be a difficult task.
Champions League football is too far of a push for a side which blew away all expectations last season. Hanging on to their best players is a priority, if Newcastle can do that then there is no reason why they cannot push for a top six finish.
7th place - The distraction of the Europa League could play a part, but it is the strength of the so-called big six which could ultimately mean a lower finish for Pardew's side.