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Mark Lawrenson believes ‘You can see what Steve Bruce is thinking…’ before season kicks off

1 week ago
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Mark Lawrenson has been talking about Newcastle United ahead of Saturday night’s Premier League kick-off in London.

Newcastle starting off against West Ham, two teams who the bookies think are more likely to be relegated than finish in the top half.

Another thing that links to the two clubs, is that they are the two fanbases who most want to see a change of ownership at their clubs.

West Ham have had a net transfer spend of around £140m over the course of the past two years, compared to £40m or so net spend for Newcastle in the same time period.

Despite this, the Hammers fans are up in arms because the club’s owners have only spent around £15m so far, making Soucek a permanent signing.

After this week’s action (in the transfer market anyway), Newcastle fans are generally far happier than this time last week, with only days to go until the season starts Mike Ashley has finally allowed some money to be spent, as three players signed within 24 hours or so. Relieved though is probably a better word to describe how Newcastle fans are feeling, as the situation was looking all a bit hopeless with the season looming.

Last season Newcastle scored only 38 goals, you had to go back 22 years to when they scored less, the fans also watching the most negative football in memory.

Mark Lawrenson says that ‘You can see what Steve Bruce is thinking’, with regard to bringing in players who have already played in the Premier League.

The BBC Sport pundit believes Newcastle have brought in ‘some really good signings like Callum Wilson, Ryan Fraser and Jeff Hendrick’, here’s hoping he is proved correct.

It was goals that Newcastle most needed adding and the simple fact is that in recent times they have struggled to deliver, Ryan Fraser only one PL goal in the past 13 months and Callum Wilson only three in his last 28 PL appearances since September 2019. As for Jeff Hendrick, only nine goals in four Premier League seasons means expectations on him bothering the scorers are pretty limited.

Newcastle fans hope that the former Bournemouth pair spring back to the stand out form of 2018/19 when they scored 21 between them (14 Wilson, 7 Fraser). Having signed only days ago it could be a tough ask to be in top form on Saturday, especially for Fraser who hasn’t played any football since March and has had no pre-season with a club apart from these a few days this week.

Only the bottom four clubs conceded more goals than West Ham’s 62, so can Newcastle take advantage of a dodgy home defence?

Mark Lawrenson despite praising Steve Bruce and the new signings doesn’t believe so, predicting a 2-1 win for West Ham.

Whilst Steve Bruce had woeful form over the final 20 games of last season, the third worst in the Premier League, including only four wins, West Ham actually finished the season well, only one defeat in the final seven games (Newcastle picked up only one point from their last five) with three wins and three draws.

Can the new signings turn it around for Newcastle United and bring goals and creativity that was so lacking last season and more or less completely reliant on ASM to do something?

Tune in tomorrow night to find out.

Mark Lawrenson  talking to BBC Sport:

“West Ham fans are clearly miffed about the sale of Grady Diangana to West Brom.

“I don’t know why they sold him – how can it be for financial reasons when they have just bid about £27m for Burnley defender James Tarkowski?

“Newcastle, meanwhile, come into the new season on the back of some really good signings like Callum Wilson, Ryan Fraser and Jeff Hendrick.

“You can see what Steve Bruce is thinking – he wanted some players who know all about the Premier League.

“This will be close, but I’m going with the Hammers.

“David Moyes has had some time to work with his team and, if they can get Tarkowski in – or someone like him – they will be safer, quicker, this time.

“Prediction is West Ham 2 Newcastle 1.”

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