What can Newcastle United fans expect from 2013?

By Lee Ryder on Jan 1, 13 09:48 AM

Ask any Newcastle United fan what they thought of 2012 and they will respond with mixed emotions after experiencing some incredible highs followed by some almighty lows.

Finishing the season in fifth spot was a surprise to many observers in football, and in truth few Toon fans expected a Europa League slot when the 2011/12 campaign began.

It meant that the year 2012 resulted in expectations rising on Tyneside but failure to invest in the squad last summer ultimately cost the Magpies dearly in the second part of the year.

And so 2013 gets under way with Toon owner Mike Ashley finding himself in a position where he must back Alan Pardew with a cash injection to bring in new faces to rectify the lack of activity in last summer's window.

With the purchase of Mathieu Debuchy currently well under way, more new signings are expected to follow in January.

The return to fitness of Yohan Cabaye - hopefully back for the game with Norwich - and Hatem Ben Arfa, who is aiming for a February return, will also give United some much needed creativity in 2013.

The duo have been badly missed and injuries were not kind to the Magpies in the second half of 2012.

Then you have the situation regarding Demba Ba...

Putting agents to one side, Ba may never have it so good in his career than he has now.

The player has been offered an excellent deal to stay at Newcastle.

The big stage at St James' Park is wide open for him to play the best football of his career during his peak years.

And he has a fanbase that loves him.

Leaving Tyneside is a big decision because quite simply he could just become another player elsewhere.

But ultimately he must make his mind up for football reasons and not be swayed by an agent who has pound signs in his eyes.

Ba's situation all ties in with January 2013 for Newcastle.

If he goes, Newcastle move on and replace him.

If he stays and shows further dedication to the black and white cause nobody will complain.

At the end of this month it will become clear just what type of season this is going to be.

By then fans will know exactly who is on board and who is not.

The year starts with the Magpies hovering dangerously above the relegation zone.

But that's the thing with a new year, it is a fresh start and a chance to start over in many ways.

Pardew's troops need seven wins from the remaining 18 matches before we can start to think about anything other than mere survival.

It is a serious situation but one that can be resolved with a combination of new signings and the return from injury of key players.

There are also two cups to play for in the FA Cup and the Europa League.

Certainly fans expect a respectable Premier League position after a poor start.

Seeing the FA Cup taken seriously is also high on their wish-list, while Europe is still there to play for and keeps the season alive until February on the Continental front with supporters still at least allowed to dream about an Amsterdam invasion in May.

But more than that, United fans will want to see the team playing in the same manner they did in 2012 when they operated with a 4-3-3 style playing quick attacking football.

The year might be starting with Newcastle United in the role of wounded animals.

How it will end is anybody's guess.

But I bet it won't be boring.

Happy new year to all blog readers and Twitter followers - fasten your seatbelts, the black and white roller-coaster is ready to depart for 2013.


Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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