2013 -- looking back on a crazy year for Newcastle

Posted by Marc Duffy

Ian Horrocks/Newcastle United/Getty ImagesMoussa Sissoko's brace versus Chelsea last February was one of the highlights of the season for Newcastle.

It is rarely quiet when it comes to footballing matters on Tyneside and 2013 was yet another roller-coaster year.

It might surprise you to know that the 54 Premier League points Newcastle accumulated in their 37 games through 2013 gave them their highest points per game average (1.46) since 2003 (1.62)!

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Loic Remy led the way in terms of Premier League goals with ten despite only joining the club in the summer. When looking at all competitions, his ten goal haul was matched by Papiss Cisse and Yoan Gouffran with midfielder Yohan Cabaye just behind them on an impressive nine.

Forty-seven games were played over the 52 weeks in all competitions and here is a look back at some of the ups and downs:

The year started badly as Newcastle lost at home to Everton in a poor showing days before crashing out of the FA Cup for a second year in succession to Gus Poyet's Brighton. Things got even worse when captain Fabricio Coloccini announced he wanted to quit the club and return home to Argentina.

The Newcastle hierarchy panicked after a home loss to Reading, believing that relegation was a real possibility, and they accelerated the signings of five Frenchmen: Matthieu Debuchy, Moussa Sissoko, Yoan Gouffran, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Massadio Haidara for a combined reported fee of 18.2 million pounds. The signings paid instant dividends as they helped Newcastle to their first win of the year at Villa Park.

Moussa Sissoko exploded onto the scene with one of the finest ever St James' Park debuts. His two goals helped Newcastle beat Chelsea 3-2 and fans were blown away by his all action performance.

Newcastle advanced into the Europa League final 16, beating Ukraine's Metalist 1-0, and things began to look up.

Samuel Eto'o's Anzhi were the next to fall as Newcastle progressed to the Europa League quarterfinals thanks to a late Papiss Cisse winner in the second leg, but league form was terrible with three defeats from four. More supporters began to fear another relegation.

One of those defeats came against Wigan (2-1) in a game that is remembered for the horror tackle Callum McManaman made on Massadio Haidara. Not only did referee Mark Halsey fail to take any action, the FA didn't punish him after the game either -- a decision which prompted a change to the rules later in the year.

Nile Ranger was released by the club -- a wasted talent who has no chance of fulfilling his potential.

One of the worst ever months to be a Newcastle supporter.

Eliminated by Benfica in the Europa League quarterfinals, Newcastle also suffered their heaviest home derby defeat in 47 years, losing 3-0 to a poor, Paolo Di Canio-managed Sunderland. In the aftermath of the game, a middle aged Newcastle supporter was arrested for punching a police horse.

This was swiftly followed by Newcastle's heaviest home defeat in 88 years as Liverpool strolled through St James' Park scoring six times. The only plus was a vital 1-0 home win against Fulham with another injury time Cisse goal.

A 2-1 win at QPR was enough to keep Newcastle up -- QPR's scorer that day was one Loic Remy who would end the year as Newcastle's top league goal scorer.

The season ended with a 1-0 home loss to Arsenal who celebrated their fourth placed finish like Champions League winners.

Newcastle finished 16th with 41 points.

The month that provided the most recent and most ridiculous Mike Ashley kick-in-the-supporters-teeth: the appointment of Joe Kinnear as Director of Football. Derek Llambias soon jumped ship as Kinnear embarrassed himself, the club and its supporters by participating in a series of live interviews in which he mispronounced a number of players names ("Yohan Kebab") as well as inventing parts of his own imaginary CV seemingly oblivious to the fact that in this day and age his outlandish claims could be instantly checked on the internet.

James Perch, Danny Simpson and Steve Harper all left the club.

Cisse went on strike over the club's new short sponsor -- the controversial payday loan company "Wonga".

Arsenal made a token bid for Cabaye just hours before Newcastle's opener at Manchester City. Cabaye disappeared from the scene and failed to make a start until September after the bid was rejected.

The subsequent 4-0 thrashing at the hands of likely champions City doesn't look so bad on reflection, but the 0-0 draw at home to West Ham only days later now looks even worse.

A Hatem Ben Arfa wonder goal beat Fulham 1-0.

A comfortable 2-1 win at Aston Villa was followed up with an outrageous 3-2 home defeat to then-bookies second favourites for relegation, Hull City.

A terrible first 45 at Goodison Park was one of the worst in recent years from Newcastle. They were 3-0 down to Everton at halftime and ended up losing 3-2.

A diabolical loss at the Stadium of Light to a record-breakingly bad, bottom of the league Sunderland side seemed to be the trigger for a great run of results.

A perfect record of four wins from four including wins over Chelsea and Spurs led to Pardew being named manager of the month and Tim Krul player of the month after his phenomenal showing at White Hart Lane.

A win against Manchester United at Old Trafford for the first time in 41 years. Fantastic!

Pantomime season came to St James' as they beat nine man Stoke 5-1.

The year ended with a disappointing 1-0 home loss to a weakened Arsenal who went top of the league.

So there we have it. What will 2014 bring? An FA Cup would be nice....

Twitter: @MarcSDuffy


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