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Challenges facing Newcastle United – Guardian predicting relegation as fail to strengthen

1 year ago
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Only days until the Premier League kick-off and journalists are looking at how fit for purpose the 20 clubs are.

Somebody has to come top and somebody has to come bottom…

Of course, all we are bothered about is Newcastle United’s place in all of this.

Earlier today we featured the BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty, he made his predictions of how the final PL table would look, as well as a write up explaining his reasoning on each club.

For Newcastle United, his write up began with: ‘Where do you even start? Where will this all end?’ and he then finished off with ‘When will the torture end for Newcastle’s supporters? It may get worse before it gets better.’

His prediction was 20th for NUFC, rock bottom.

The Guardian have had their go as well today, their writers giving a collective final position for all 20 clubs, they put Newcastle United two places higher but still getting relegated.

This doesn’t have to equal reality of course BUT it is very useful in informing us of what neutrals are seeing/thinking, the departure of Rafa and arrival of Bruce, the players going in and out, the signings that are missing…plus of course another vital cog in what will happen, what the other 19 Premier League clubs have done to prepare for the new season.

Michael Butler has done the Guardian’s write up on Newcastle United and like many of us he can see the obvious with what Newcastle had last season and still have now, good options at centre-back and to an extent in centre midfield but apart from that, ‘it is a squad high on quantity but low on outstanding quality.’

Here are a few extracts…

Weaker or stronger?:

‘One could make the argument that there are only four teams that start this Premier League season weaker than the last…

(The other two named were Liverpool and Chelsea) For Crystal Palace and Newcastle United things are less clear, with the latter’s manager, Rafael Benítez, and their two top goal scorers last season, Salomón Rondón and Ayoze Pérez, now departed. As things stand, both clubs are relegation candidates.

The departure of Benítez in June is still particularly painful for those on Tyneside, if not at board level then certainly by the fans.  They valued Benítez’s tactical nous, which saw Newcastle return to the Premier League at the first time of asking in 2016-17, before finishing 10th and then 13th with a threadbare squad. Most importantly, though, they valued Benítez’s integrity and patience in the face of Mike Ashley’s ownership, the latter of which eventually ran out.’

Joelinton/Goals:

‘That the club were willing to sanction a transfer of that size (Joelinton £40m) but unwilling to agree to Benitez’s requests has led to more bemusement.

Even if it is papering over the cracks, the arrival of Joelinton is a curious one. For a player that has never scored more than eight league goals in a season it is eye-wateringly expensive fee, but the striker fits with Ashley’s policy of buying young players with resale value and bases his game on much more than just finishing.

Joelinton’s pace and power could suit that of the Premier League but it remains a huge risk. If he does not hit the ground running, or succumbs to injury, Newcastle’s only other recognised strikers are Dwight Gayle and Yoshinori Muto.’

Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin influence:

‘Miguel Almirón’s relationship with Joelinton will be pivotal. The Paraguayan has shown flashes of brilliance since his own £21m move from the MLS in January, and with his first full pre-season behind him, will hope to show his best in a false nine role, dropping into the pockets of space as Joelinton crashes around between the centre-backs.

Parallels can be drawn between Saint-Maximin and Hatem Ben Arfa. 

Newcastle is a place where an outsider can come to feel loved, but it is also a working-class city – flashiness off the pitch must be earned on it – and it was heartening to see Saint-Maximin ditched his trademark Gucci headband for a plain black one at his Newcastle unveiling.’

The final line of the Guardian write-up declaring ‘Newcastle’s fans certainly need something positive to sing about.’

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