In 2013, Newcastle United hired a publicly volatile, badly spoken man to run the team. Again. Joe Kinnear, the man who began his reign as manager of the club by calling a journalist a reprehensible word and ended it with a heart attack that required triple-bypass surgery, returned to St. James’ Park as Director of Football. His charge: assemble a team able to finish in the top six.
He began by, in the most generous of explanations, displaying a large amount of confusion over his own credentials. He ended it voluntarily, resigning midway through the season. He had signed zero players to permanent deals, securing only a year-long loan of Loïc Remy, and sold one of the club’s best in Yohan Cabaye (who he once called Yohan Kabob).
MORE: Newcastle United's season schedule
That Newcastle finished 10th last season can be considered something of a miracle. Even more impressive, it enters this season without any giant controversies outside of a standoff between manager Alan Pardew and fan favorite midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa that will see the player either sit out the last year of his contract or be transferred elsewhere.
The club has done some nice work on the transfer market, replacing Mathieu Debuchy with Dutch World Cup veteran Daryl Janmaat and adding the highly-rated midfielder Siem De Jong from Ajax along with a couple other nice pieces. But still, this squad has more questions than answers, particularly at striker as well as on the bench. Is this the year Pardew is finally able to get the most out of a talented squad? For once, he won’t have much to distract him from doing so.
Americans in the English Premier League
SI's Grant Wahl goes through the American players in the English Premier League this season.
KEY ARRIVALS: M Jack Colback (from Sunderland), M Siem de Jong (from Ajax), M Remy Cabella (from Montpellier), D Daryl Janmaat (from Feyenoord)
KEY DEPARTURES: F Shola Ameobi (free agent), Mathieu Debuchy (to Arsenal)
PLAYER TO WATCH: Dynamic and creative, Siem de Jong will aim to provide a much-needed replacement for Cabaye. He’ll also be counted upon to provide leadership right away -- Pardew named de Jong vice-captain before he appeared in a game.
KEY STAT: Alan Pardew has been in charge of Newcastle United for four seasons. That may not seem like a bunch, but it’s the second-longest tenure of any manager in the Premier League.
STADIUM: St. James’ Park (Built in 1892; Capacity, 52,405)
The original Gallowgate End at the southern end was named since the city’s gallows were located near the gate. When the Gallowgate End was renovated in 2005, crews unearthed original Gallowgate End steps, covered in 1993, now used in Shearer’s Bar.