In four weeks time the Premier League kicks off for Newcastle United.
It is only 14 months since NUFC exited the top tier, to a large extent it will be unknown territory.
The team is much changed from who Newcastle were relying on back in 2015/16 and hopefully these next few weeks will see the current team/squad see more significant changes.
However, if Newcastle United go into the Premier League with exactly this squad, what would be their chances of finishing above each of the other 19 clubs?
This is my personal judgement on United’s percentage chance of ending up above each of our rivals:
Crystal Palace 30%
Leicester City 10%
Man. City 1%
Man United 2%
Stoke City 20%
Swansea City 30%
West Brom 25%
West Ham 25%
You can never say never but Manchester City have so many good players and Newcastle can’t even afford the ones they are releasing, so a near impossibility.
The likes of Spurs, Liverpool, Arsenal, Man Utd and Chelsea are pretty much the same but you can still maybe hold onto the fact that we have finished fifth in that fluky one season under Mike Ashley’s ownership, plus each of those clubs have at some time in recent seasons shown they can finish fifth or lower. Grasping at very thin straws though.
With Everton’s transfer activity, I would say that it rubber stamps that they should really be in that top group but again if you are an eternal optimist you could hope for them imploding with so many new players and Newcastle performing some kind of miracle.
I see other clubs such as Southampton and Leicester as having such strong squads these days, light years ahead of NUFC at the minute.
Then you have West Brom, Stoke and Bournemouth, all well managed teams in different ways and I honestly think it would be an achievement to get ahead of any of them unless they have something seriously go wrong. I would add West Ham to that level, they have some decent players and should have more ambitions than the other trio – but they still show signs of instability.
You then get to the four clubs who flirted with relegation last season with Watford, Crystal Palace, Swansea and Burnley.
Of the four clubs, Palace have the better players and Burnley the best team spirit. Swansea and Watford have been rocking at times and having both had a number of management changes, they are especially vulnerable to possible relegation.
Which then leaves us with the two clubs Newcastle were promoted with.
I rate Newcastle as no more than 50/50 to be above Brighton, how can you when there was nothing between the teams last season and I certainly can’t claim Newcastle have strengthened more than Chris Hughton’s side.
As for Huddersfield, I was tempted to rate them 50/50 as well, they have spent around £40m so far and are having a real go. On the face of it they have improved their first eleven significantly from last season so difficult to see NUFC having much superiority, if any, at the minute.
Some of you may see the above as a negative outlook but I think it is just realistic as things stand.
If another goalscorer who is at least as good as Gayle comes in, plus a creative attacking midfielder/winger of a similar standard, then I think it definitely takes Newcastle up a few notches, particularly if one or two other positions are strengthened, especially left-back.
The reality though is Newcastle haven’t shown ambition as yet in the transfer market and it would be foolhardy to believe that NUFC have a better squad than any of the 17 clubs who were in the Premier League last season.
It isn’t impossible to finish above any of them but in the real world, it is to varying degrees less likely to happen, than it is to happen.
The scales need tipping!
(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])