Newcastle midfielder Cheick Tiote expects improvement next season after relegation battle

 

Newcastle midfielder Cheick Tiote is expecting no repeat of the horrors of last season as he and his team-mates prepare to return to work.

The Magpies will start to report back for pre-season training in three groups from July 3 with Ivory Coast international Tiote among five man given extended breaks after representing their respective countries at the end of the domestic campaign.

But the 27-year-old is already raring to go as Alan Pardew's men attempt to repair the damage inflicted by an intensely difficult 2012-13.

Tiote told the club's official website, http://www.nufc.co.uk: "Last season was not the best for Newcastle. It was a hard season in the Europa League and the Premier League - but we have had some time off to rest now.

"It was really difficult for all the team, but when you see the season, the most important thing was just to stay in the Premier League.

"That's what we did and now we need to prepare and be ready for the next season. When we look at last season, we cannot imagine to have the same season as this next year, so I think it will be better."

Newcastle eventually dragged themselves safely over the finishing line after a desperate fight against relegation, but 16th place was way short of their expectations 12 months after they had forced their way into the top five.

Injuries and the demands of a first European campaign in six years took a heavy toll on Pardew's squad and prompted owner Mike Ashley to invest a further £30million in January to secure Frenchmen Mathieu Debuchy, Massadio Haidara, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Moussa Sissoko and Yoan Gouffran.

Nevertheless, the second half of the campaign proved testing, and the repercussions are still being felt on Tyneside.

The most significant consequence has been Ashley's controversial decision to appoint former Magpies manager Joe Kinnear as director of football and hand him a remit to oversee all football-related matters at St James' Park, a move which in the eyes of many has seriously undermined Pardew and chief scout Graham Carr.

Kinnear and Carr met yesterday to continue their deliberations over the club's summer transfer dealings, and their discussions were expected to continue today with Pardew hoping his wish-list, which includes more proven Barclays Premier League experience and less continental potential, will be catered for.

However, he will be equally keen to retain the services of his key men with Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa among those players to have been linked with moves away from the club this summer.

Ashley has proved in the past, with striker Andy Carroll the case in point, that he is prepared to sell, but only at the right price.

France international Cabaye has been touted as a target for big-spending Monaco, but any potential buyer would have to come up with what Pardew has in the past described as "silly" money - that amounted to £35million for Carroll - if they were to persuade the sportswear tycoon to consider accepting a bid.

PA

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