It may not be what some fans want to hear, but Alan Pardew has already pinpointed the main area he is looking to improve over the summer.
That area is primarily the defence which at times has leaked like a sieve and has meant that any chance of winning a game has been lost, sometimes before the match is actually properly under way.
Newcastle conceded 51 goals last term – the second worst amount in the top half of the table – although heavy defeats to Tottenham, Fulham and Wigan contributed 14 to that total. Still it’s an area which clearly needs working on and strengthening in the summer, something that Pardew is keen to press on with.
“At the back is an area we need to strengthen. We’ve let in too many goals,” Pardew told nufcTV.
“We have to tighten up at the back. We finished with only a plus-five goal difference. We let too many in and didn’t score enough to win 21 games – that’s the truth of it.”
“But to win 19 means you’ve been really tight all year. We’ve had to grind wins out and next year we are going have to make sure we win 21 games with a little bit more style.”
He added: “It’s important that we don’t rest on our laurels, that we understand we have taken the Club on a huge leap forward, finished above some great teams below us, and then try to improve on that.”
Of course having Steven Taylor back will be a huge boost to the defence, but it’s still light on both numbers and quality. We need another central defender and more than likely a specialist right or left back as Danny Simpson’s days on Tyneside appear to be numbered. The right or left part depends on what they fancy doing with Davide Santon, who was excellent in the final few weeks of the season.
There is talk of Mathieu Debuchy being the one that we’re looking at, although I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it was a complete red herring and we landed up with someone hardly anyone knows anything about. And why not? It hasn’t exactly served us poorly thus far has it?
The central defender is another are which sounds as though it will be strengthened giving us more depth, which is needed if we are to compete on more fronts next season, including the Europa League.
Our “goals for” stat could do with some improvement, but it’s the “goals against” column which is causing us more problems at the moment. If you concede goals regularly it gives our attack little chance of winning a game, regardless of how good they may be. The frightening thing is that we conceded 51 goals with 15 clean sheets added into the mix. That’s essentially 51 goals against in just 23 games – over two a game!
And that most definitely needs improving on next season!