What a season it was a year ago for Eddie Howe’s men. I’m not sure many predicted at the start of the campaign that it would end with the prospect of Champions League football but that anthem will be ringing out on Tyneside at least three times this upcoming season and the Toon Army are excited about what is next…
Last Season: 4th
Top Scorer: Callum Wilson (18)
Transfers In: Harvey Barnes – Leicester, £39m, Sandro Tonali – AC Milan, £55m, Yankuba Minteh – Odense Boldklub, undisclosed, Ola Aina – Torino, free
Transfers Out: Allan Saint-Maximin – Al-Ahli – £27.20m, Karl Darlow – Leeds – £400k, Chris Wood – Nottingham Forest, undisclosed, Matty Longstaff – Released, Ciaran Clark – Released, Matthew Bondswell – Newport, loan, Yankuba Minteh – Feyenoord, loan, Dale Taylor – Wycombe, loan, Harrison Ashby – loan, Jamal Lewis – loan
First game: Aston Villa (H)
Repeating their 22/23 season of finishing fourth and returning to Europe’s top table for a second straight season, is something I suspect most Newcastle fans would happily sign up for, if offered it right now.
One of the biggest concerns heading into the new season is squad depth. We saw last season that a couple of timely injuries/suspensions really saw results drift around the Carabao Cup Final and that is something the manager is keen to avoid.
The additions of Sandro Tonali and Harvey Barnes have given Eddie Howe a bit more cover in key areas but the latter has the counterweight of Allan Saint-Maximin leaving for pastures new. Throughout the Steve Bruce era, the Frenchman was often the only reason to watch Newcastle, so his departure is very bitter-sweet but on the face of it, his replacement will add more assists along with goals and fits the style of play his manager demands.
Bringing in Sandro Tonali has been seen by many to be a real coup. The Italian midfielder brings a rare mix of steel and flair to the middle of the park. In all likelihood, he’ll replace Sean Longstaff in the starting XI for most games and be part of a very strong (on paper) midfield trio, alongside Bruno Guimaraes and Joelinton.
Anthony Gordon is also expected to be fully up to speed after a lacklustre start to his career in black and whit,e following a very impressive summer at the Euro U21’s. Newcastle also retain Callum Wilson and Alexander Isak, to cause opposition defences plenty of headaches and gives Eddie Howe plenty of options in the final third. Wilson is 40/1 to be the top scorer, with Isak 28/1 in the same market.
Plenty of options isn’t what the manager has when it comes down to the backline, as no reinforcements have come in through the door at the time of writing. They were fantastic last season defensively but the lack of depth is a problem and a key long-term injury to either of the two first-choice centre-backs could really derail their campaign.
Two players coming through the youth ranks who could have an impact are Elliot Anderson and Lewis Miley. Both are expected to be part of the first-team squad and the former in particular looks primed to make a real impact, having impressed early on in pre-season.
As for their betting chances, we have them as the fifth choice in the top four market and the joint-fifth choice when it comes to winning the league outright. We see them as having a similar season to Chelsea. 16/1 is the pre-season price to shock everyone and lift the trophy, with a much shorter 5/4 to finish in those all important Champions League positions.
If you are expecting everything to go wrong on the Tyne (or are a Sunderland fan), then the 250/1 on offer for Newcastle to be relegated might be tempting. That however, isn’t for me.
My prediction for the season is Newcastle to miss out on the top four but get to the knockout stages of the Champions League and have at least one long-run in one of the domestic cup competitions. I think the traders have priced Eddie Howe’s up pretty much spot on.