Before the start of this season, the mood was quite good. The expectations within the Toon Army were growing by the day.
Although the previous season was disappointing, there was never any threat of relegation. Joe Kinnear, a very unpopular appointment at Tyneside, had left the club before the end of the season. Transfers, which were a part of Kinnear’s assignments, had finally started to happen at St. James’ Park. Before the start of the 2014-15 season, exciting players such as Jack Colback, Daryl Janmaat, Siem de Jong and Remy Cabella were brought in. Redundant players such as Shola Ameobi had left the club.
Even if manager Alan Pardew was still struggling to find acceptance with the supporters, he had shown in the past that he was able to guide the club to success. So, things were looking brighter at Tyneside. However, the start of the season was not as bright as expected. The first low point of the season came away against Southampton on September 13th. Newcastle United lost the match 4-0, but the worst incident of the match came when assistant manager, John Carver, became involved in a verbal confrontation with the fans.
The first win of the season came in a 1-0 home win against Leicester City on October 18th. However, this was the start of a five-game winning streak, and the critics were silenced. Then came the anticipated derby against Sunderland in December; a chance for Alan Pardew to win some credit with the Toon Army. Once again, Newcastle were defeated by a late goal from Adam Johnson, and tensions were once again high.
In December, manager Alan Pardew was also persuaded to move away from Newcastle, to take over as manager for Crystal Palace. While many Newcastle supporters celebrated this turn of events, few expected what was to come of it. Pardew later admitted there was no chance for him to succeed as manager for Newcastle without the support of the fans.
The need for reinforcements was highly visible in the January transfer market, but, no players were brought in. Instead, fan favourite Hatem Ben Arfa was sent on loan to Hull City, after a conflict with manager Alan Pardew, whilst defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa had struggled to get into the side and was sold to AS Roma. Surprisingly enough, Yanga-Mbiwa was considered talented enough for the Italian giants. These departures left the club with a weakened squad, especially defensively.
John Carver was appointed manager in January; this was seen as a bad move by many of the supporters, as other candidates were seen as more ambitious. Still, Carver was given the chance. The club was sitting comfortably in mid-table, so there would be no chance of relegation, or so was thought. Carver’s reign would be nothing short of a disaster. The club went on a run of eight defeats in a row, while Carver had several incidents with the press during this time. The supporters’ unrest grew to new proportions, while most of the blame was put on owner, Mike Ashley.
A fan group even went as far as arranging a boycott in Newcastle’s home match against Tottenham Hotspur in April this year. The boycott received massive media attention, and the pressure on the club board reached to a new high.
Newcastle’s terrible form led to a relegation dogfight; on the final day of the season, relegation was still a possibility. Before the final match, Mike Ashley decided to turn up to a pre-match interview. Ashley is known never to speak directly to the press, so this event left many supporters baffled; Ashley told the press he would not sell the club until a trophy is won, including Champions League qualification.
Newcastle beat West Ham 2-0 on the final day of the season to secure their Premier League status. The fans could breathe a sigh of relief, but a lot of them still stayed behind in the stadium to protest against the way the club has been ran for the last year.
There is no doubt a lot of things need to change at Newcastle United. It also remains to be seen if Mike Ashley will come through on his promise.