CHEICK TIOTE believes Newcastle United’s new-look squad is strong enough to emulate the team that finished fifth in the Premier League three seasons ago.
Tiote was part of the side that qualified for the Europa League in 2011/12, but the Magpies have since failed to build on that performance finishing 16th and 10th in the last two years.
That has largely been down to the club’s failure to strengthen Alan Pardew’s hand and replace key players such as Yohan Cabaye, who joined Paris St Germain in January.
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This summer has been different, though, with owner Mike Ashley sanctioning the arrival of nine new players with the possibility there could be more to follow before the transfer window closes on September 1.
Ayoze Perez, Jack Colback, Siem de Jong, Emmanuel Riviere, Daryl Janmatt, Remy Cabella and Facundo Ferreyra have joined for a combined total of around £30m, while Nottingham Forest duo Jamaal Lascelles and Karl Darlow will be signed for the future.
Tiote returned to pre-season training late following his World Cup exploits with Ivory Coast in Brazil, but the midfielder admits he already knew some of Newcastle’s new boys before he arrived back on Tyneside.
“I know some of the new boys from when I’ve watched the French league like Remy Cabella, Manu Riviere and also Siem de Jong from Ajax,” Tiote said. “I’ve played against him before so I know what he is capable of. They are good signings for the club and hopefully they are going to do well for us this season.
“I think there could be more players, but at the moment I think the squad looks better than last season that’s for sure. We have had the opportunity to bring in some new players and we could bring in more, but I definitely think we are stronger.”
Newcastle’s summer dealings have created a renewed sense of optimism across Tyneside and Pardew has already talked up the team’s offensive capabilities.
The Magpies boss feels his side is now better equipped to hurt teams in the final third and Tiote believes finishing as high as fifth is a possibility.
He said: “We will try to win every game and finish near the top. You never know with the Premier League. You can’t say we will finish third, fourth, fifth or sixth, because it’s really tough, but I think for us it’s important to be ready for the start of the season and try to win every game like we did two years ago when we finished fifth.
“The more games we win the better chance we will have of finishing in the top five rather than the top ten.
“I think it’s possible this squad can repeat the fifth place from two years ago, because we’ve got the players and have brought in some real quality. We just have to work hard, because it’s not easy to finish there in the Premier League.”
Tiote made his first appearance of pre-season in Newcastle’s 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday, but he has missed games in Germany and Huddersfield with a suspected hamstring injury and is a doubt for the season opener against Manchester City next Sunday.