Alan Pardew would have welcomed the summer break more than most, having endured a torrid conclusion to last season when wretched form saw Newcastle United fans stage protests on a weekly-basis. With the manager serving a 7 match ban for head-butting Hull's David Meyler in March, the Magpies won just 2 of their last 10 games to complete the fall from sixth at Christmas to a disappointing tenth-placed finish.
One of those rare victories, the 3-0 home win over Cardiff in May, could not free Pardew from criticism who would have seen banners calling for his sacking as he returned to the dugout. A 69th minute walkout was staged in protest of Mike Ashley's running of the club and after ending with a 2-1 defeat at Liverpool, Newcastle would enter a pivotal summer. Pardew, especially fortunately to still hold his post after the fracas with Meyler, would have been grateful to get away.
Despite learning a reputation for unimaginative football on Tyneside, the 53 year old manager has been forced to work under the restraints of a frugal board and an owner who has remained obstinate against calls to invest into the squad. Joe Kinnear was controversially appointed as Director of Football in June 2013 but failed to land a single permanent sign over two transfer windows before he departed in February.
He would even sell Yohann Cabaye to PSG for £ 20 million in January, the catalyst for Newcastle's decline in the second half of last season. Cabaye's would appear in a Newcastle shirt last in the 1-3 win at West Ham, in which he scored twice, but without him Pardew's men would seem to give up, scoring just 11 goals in their remaining 14 games and winning only 4 times.
The Toons had managed to go 18 months without spending a fee on a player, the loan deals to bring Luuk De Jong and Loic Remy to St James's Park the only business done in the Kinnear era but with the ex-Wimbledon manager now gone, this Summer's recruitment has been much smoother. The 20 year old Spanish striker Ayoze Perez joined for just under £ 2 million to kick off a run of 6 deals that have already been completed with the total spend so far in the region of £ 30 million.
To carry on the theme of selling, Mathieu Debuchy has been allowed to join Arsenal for a fee in the region of £ 12 million but a replacement has already been found in Daryl Janmaat, the Dutch right-back who impressed in this summer's World Cup. Fellow DutchmanSiem De Jong has been captured from Ajax for £ 7.5 million and attacking verve has been added with the signings of Remy Cabella from Montpellier and Emmanuel Riviere from Monaco for a combined fee of around £ 13 million.
Cabella, an attacking midfielder who scored 14 goals and registered 5 assists in Ligue 1 last term, is seen as the much-needed replacement for Cabaye while Riviere, who got 10 goals for Monaco, will take over the goal-scoring mantle from last season's Top-scorer Loic Remy.
Their arrivals however will keep the squad's Francophone element at 9, not exactly in-keeping with Pardew's calls last October for the club to focus their policy more towards home-grown talent.Three of that group however are set to leave, with Hatem Ben- Arfa, Sylvian Marveuax and Gabriel Obertan all reportedly told they are free to leave the club after they became frozen out for the major of last season.
Ben-Arfa and Marveaux were specifically seen as disruptive influences amongst a squad that was under disharmony last term, their reported differences with Pardew forcing the manager to leave out 2 of his more creative talents as his team often served up turgid football. He has used this pre-season to speak of an improved team-spirit in their absence, but as coherence and unity grows behind the scenes there will be even greater pressure for such fluidity to be translated onto the pitch, where the 55,000 regulars at St James's have found themselves alienated by the miserable football on show.
In a move that will help greatly to improve squad accord, the signing of Jack Colback from Sunderland takes the amount of English players at St James's also to 9 with two of those, Adam Campbell and Adam Armstrong, sharing just 7 senior substitutes appear between them .
The signing of Colback on a free though has been excellent business, a versatile left-footed 24 year old who was born and raised in the city and with 164 league appearances already under his belt. The club's new managing director Lee Charnley completing a deal that fits perfectly with the Ashley blueprint of low-cost and potentially high resale value.
Charnley has arguably managed to placate Ashley on the rest of this summer's transvers but not one of them come with Colback's Premier League experience and the pressure will be on the new imports to the new league quickly as the club looks to avoid a continuation of The anti-Pardew sentiment that blackened the mood on Tyneside at the end of last season.
The pending claim that Ashley has failed to back Pardew is no longer available and the owner will be entitled, given the degree of faith he showed the manager during his corresponding issues in March, to expect a return on his investments.
Injuries and plain old bad luck have been used as excuses by Pardew for Newcastle's recent misfortunes and poor runs of form but with a settled squad and an active summer of recruitment there will be no hiding places left for a manager who managed to swell public opinion against Him to 86% in a poll run by the Newcastle Chronicle in April.
It starts with the visit of champions Manchester City but after that flows an inviting run of games. With Pardew now in a position to deliver, the pressure will be on for him to do so, or the calls for him to leave will be too loud for Ashley to ignore.