After the awful 2014-15 season, it seems that most Newcastle players are coming into the new season with something to prove. The fact that a new coach is in town only increases the pressure on players to assert themselves.

With pre season well underway and Coach Steve McClaren trying to pinpoint his opening day line up, here are my top five players who are under pressure, accompanied by my predictions for how the next season will turn out for each of them.

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Remy Cabella

Without a doubt, this man has the most pressure to perform in a black and white jersey. One of the most lucrative signings of the Mike Ashley era and tabbed to be the next Yohan Cabaye, the pressure on Cabella has been a constant since day one. I was among the many who argued that Cabella needed more time to adapt, but now that period has come to an end. It’s time to see what the Frenchman is really made of.

I think Remy’s best position is in a central attacking midfield spot, but Newcastle already have players to fill that area of the pitch (especially now the Wijnaldum deal is finalised). He’ll be deployed on the wing again. If McClaren can manage to get more out of Cabella’s massive potential, it would be a huge positive for the Magpies.

One point of interest is that Cabella did not feature in the Gateshead pre season match with McClaren claiming he is injured.

Prediction: With a year in the Premier League under his belt, I think Cabella improves. But he won’t reach the potential he initially was credited with having. The combination of the experienced tutelage of McClaren and (hopefully) more talent surrounding Cabella will help him establish a consistent starting role.

Fabricio Coloccini

The Newcastle captain’s performances were hot and cold last season. Some could be attributed to lacklustre partners in the middle of the defence. Other performances could have derived from Colo’s age, as the Argentinian is 33 years old (34 this January), certainly an age where decline is expected.

Colo has also experienced criticism regarding his captaincy and it would not be a complete shock to see someone else wearing the armband this August.

There is still hope that, paired with a more capable defender, Colo can regain some of his former glory. If that were to happen, Newcastle’s defence would look a lot better off than last year.

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Prediction: Colo definitely starts day one against Southampton, even if it’s just out of respect. If he’s paired with a better defender, I think that’s enough to hide some of his weaknesses. However, I fully expect this to be Colo’s last year starting for the Magpies. Due to his age, he isn’t where he once was physically. He has definitely lost a step or two and it showed during last year’s campaign.

This man has given a lot to Newcastle and I would be happier than anyone if he came out stronger than ever. Let’s hope that ends up being the case, but I expect that come January , Newcastle will be shopping for a replacement.

Cheick Tiote

Once a fan favourite, Tiote was out with injuries most of the 2014/2015 season. On top of that, when on the pitch his performances have not been awe-inspiring.

He and McClaren go back, so it can be assumed the Ivorian will have a solid crack at rejoining the starting line up. Not known for his skill in possession but rather his aggressive tackling, the 29 year old is approaching the decade of decline. If he believes that one more big transfer is in his future, then he really needs to open up the season strong.

Prediction: Regardless of his performance, Tiote’s stay at Tyneside is nearing its end. Fans are tired of his rash bookings and at his age there isn’t much upside. I think he starts against Southampton on opening day and does enough to lock down his spot until the January transfer window. Newcastle currently lack a player with his skill set (youngster Olivier Kemen is in the same player mould, but the young man is not ready for premier league action and might be on his way to a different club anyway) and as a result he does have value going into the season, even though it’s a skill set that is very limited.

Siem de Jong

De Jong has much to prove; injuries have been far too frequent over the past few seasons, with Ajax and then last season with Newcastle, and another year lost to the injury bug would put an end to his tenure in Tyneside.

He has looked good when he has played and even put in a goal against Swansea City. A savvy, smart player with the traits of a squad captain, de Jong could be a popular player for Newcastle if his health is steady. If another injury finds him though, expect him out the door, probably back to his home country’s league.

Prediction: De Jong has been unfortunate, but things will finally go right for him this season. His presence in the air will be immensely valuable on set pieces and he’ll be crucial to the team as a distributor. The Number 10 will deliver 10+ goals (5 on headers!)  and 5+ assists on his way to becoming a fan favorite by season’s end.

Ayoze Perez

Success can often produce pressure equal to the burden that players carry following a disappointing campaign. This is the case for the young Perez, who was one of the Magpies’ stars last season.

But it is one thing to have a single good season; it is another to expand and improve the following year. Perez’s performances earned a decent amount of transfer speculation. If he gets better, expect the rumours to be significantly greater in January.

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Teams want consistency when they shop for additions and another great year for Perez will increase his value greatly. He knows this. He also knows that Newcastle supporters love him and expect more of the same this season.

A new and surprising fan favorite, the pressure is on the young Spaniard to produce another stellar season. A year of regression, especially in the Premier League, can put a shuttering halt to a once promising career.

Prediction: Perez will improve and have another solid season. He has the kind of talent that does not look forced; he never seems to be trying to do something flashy, it just naturally occurs. He’s agile, has a nose for goal, and shows good positioning. This kid displays signs of an elite player. He’ll take another step in that direction this season.

There you have it, my players who shoulder the most pressure heading into the 2015/2016 season. Who would be in your top 5? There are certainly other players (Riviere and Aarons to name a couple) for whom you could make a case for. Feel free to leave comments containing your players and predictions!

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  • Paul Sime

    Only 5 ?

  • snodgrass2

    As funny as Mystic Meg………if maybe perhaps possibly!.After nearly two years out of football de Jong must be pleased to read that this season “things will go right for him”.

  • taranvir

    Would have switched perez out with riviere, can’t fault the rest of the selections

  • SteveSmith16

    Tiote’s yellow cards are not rash. He knows exctly how much he can get away with. He isn’t supposed to be flash, he’s earned his place in the team by stopping the opposition from being able to play.

  • RichMilburn

    I forsee McClaren sticking with the 4-3-3 which appears to be his preferred formation. I can hope/imagine the formation being 
    Janmaat-New Signing(+Lascelles)-New Signing(+Coloccini)-Haidara
    Wijnaldum,Sissoko(+De Jong)
    Cabella/Ayoze – New Signing(+Riviere), New Signing(+Aarons)

    This is, of course very speculative and hopeful…but we shall see.

  • RichMilburn

    And to be honest if by some miracle this does happen, then having Darlow, Coloccini, Dummett, Lascelles, De Jong, Riviére and Aarons on the bench is a vast improvement on what we had to deal with last season.

  • RichMilburn

    As for the deadweight – Gouffran, Anita, Obertan, Williamson and anyone too old to be loaned out to a lower league club ought to be looking for other clubs to put up with their incompetence fairly soon.

  • desree

    It has been claimed we will be going with a 4-2-3-1 formation wijnaldum being one of the 2 that sit in front of defence. That means we will have tiote, collback, wijnaldum and sissoko fighting for the two spots as I’d expect de jong as no10. as for the wingers, we do look a bit light there so cabella, sissoko, aarons and obertan are our options, not sure who is gonna whip in crosses from that lot.

  • alreet

    Interesting that anita. Gouffran. Obertan. Willo. Riviere and haidara arent mentioned i think mainly coz 5 out of 6 of them need to be cut loose.
    If we really are looking forward with a bit of investment then the dead weight and wages from them need shearing off. We cant keep ppl for sentiment or because they have the good odd game. If this group arent injured then they are a liability or have a busy 40 minutes then nothing for 4 games.
    If we do get rid then i think we could be going somewhere.

  • potski

    We know that McClaren wants to play possession football. Anita or Colback are more likely starters with Wijnaldum. At Gateshead everything went through Anita in the first half.

  • potski

    Cabella has no future in the Premiership – he is not quick enough or strong enough and these are nit things which can be coached into him. He wrong foots his marker with a little trick, but then can’t get away from them, because he is not quick enough. So very few crosses get delivered. And he can’t strike the ball hard enough to beat Premiership level keepers, even if he gets his shots on target. McClaren seems to want his forward players to press the ball when the opposition have the ball in their half. I don’t see this lightweight doing that for 60 minutes, let alone 90. Sorry, but some dribbling skill is not nearly enough. The stats show that with him having a regular starting position (under Carver) we

  • CharlesNelson

    alreet You have to sign people before you can cut people loose. That’s how Newcastle got in their predicament last season.