Improvement starts with more support for Cisse

Posted by Lee Ryder

Matthew Lewis/Getty ImagesPapiss Cisse is seeking more support from his Newcastle teammates.

If Newcastle United are to push on and improve on last season's 16th place finish this term, then the service for Alan Pardew's front line simply has to improve.

Too often last time around, Papiss Cisse cut a lonely, frustrated and isolated figure as he tried to lead the line for the Magpies' toothless attack.

Watching Cisse have to drop back to try to win the ball left many United supporters feeling low as the team struggled to chalk up any type of real form. Every player has to take responsibility, of course, but Cisse could be in for another barren campaign unless Newcastle's wingers begin to step things up.

Jonas Gutierrez is the wide man who causes a rich source of debate and strong opinion in the pubs and clubs of this football-mad city.
The Argentine international weighed in with just two Premier League goals last season and in the eyes of many fans, that's nowhere near enough.

Others will tell you Gutierrez works hard during games and provides an effective shield for his full-back. But Sylvain Marveaux is deemed a more offensive winger and despite not being a regular starter, his haul of six assists underlines what type of contribution he brings.

Sammy Ameobi starts the season on the fringes of the squad once again just like the last two summers. Last season, he drifted out of contention as Newcastle fielded several youngsters all at the same time during an injury crisis and Ameobi ended up being loaned to Middlesbrough.

But he has returned looking refreshed, and those who have watched every minute of the friendlies this summer will tell you the Geordie winger looks ready to challenge for the first team once again.

Yoan Gouffran offers another alternative out wide and has goals in him too, but Cisse, and new acquisition Loic Remy, will thrive if Pardew gets the service right.

Then there is Gabriel Obertan, who has slipped way down the pecking order this year after failing to grasp his chance in the Premier League, having left Manchester United citing first-team football was the reason he hadn’t made progress.

There is plenty of room for improvement from all of Newcastle's flankers.
Whoever Pardew plays out wide, a major improvement is needed if Newcastle are to genuinely challenge for even a top-10 slot. The Magpies open the season Monday at Manchester City.

What could also make a big difference for Cisse and the team in general is a fully fit Hatem Ben Arfa. He was missing for much of last season and when fit and selected allows confidence to ooze from other areas of the park.

It’s no coincidence that when the Magpies charged to fifth place in the closing stages of the 2011-12 season it was Ben Arfa who brought out the best in the likes of Yohan Cabaye and Cisse.

Last season’s shocking offensive statistics though are there for all to see. One of the scariest stats was that Newcastle only managed to score four goals from inside the 6-yard box in the whole season.
And the entire planet seems to know United also bagged just one from a corner kick.

The hope is that Pardew’s side -- no longer shackled by the Europa League -- can get back to producing the type of football that made his 4-3-3 system two years ago such a big success. Otherwise it could be another long old season for the strikers -- not to mention the long-suffering Toon Army.

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