Newcastle captain Fabricio Coloccini’s unwavering assertion that they are capable of matching or perhaps even bettering last season’s unlikely fifth-place finish has been supported by three promising recent developments.
The first was Demba Ba’s determined bid to stop the speculation that has followed him all summer that he is about to leave, describing paper talk about his future as “rubbish” and that “I enjoy putting on a black and white shirt”.
The Senegalese striker was upstaged in the second half of the season his compatriot Papiss Cisse but still ended his first campaign on Tyneside with 16 goals, and was a serious contender to be Premier League top scorer until the closing months.
Another injection of optimism is provided by the reports that they are close to signing one of the star performers at Euro 2012, or in the group stage at least, the Lille and France right back Mathieu Debuchy, for a fee of around £7 million.
The 26-year-old was on the radar of Alan Pardew and lauded chief scout Graham Carr before the tournament and their admiration was vindicated as he proved defensively adapt and a major threat going forwards.
His arrival would also serve the purpose of easing any concern over Danny Simpson’s reluctance to sign an extension to a contract which expires in a year, and it is rumoured that he will be allowed to join Reading to accommodate Debuchy.
Completing the hat-trick of reasons to be cheerful is the declaration from the agent of alleged target Vurnon Anita that the Dutch-capped Ajax left back or midfielder finds the prospect of moving to the Premier League “so tempting”.
Coupled with the fact that all of last season’s heroes currently remain despite fears that irresistible offers would be made for the likes of Tim Krul, Cheick Tiote and Yohan Cabaye, and it appears that Coloccini’s confidence is far from misguided.
Newcastle are 7/1 to go one better in 2012/13 and finish in the top four.