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Opinion

Newcastle United team to kick off new season – So many changes in 12 months

1 month ago
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The Newcastle United team is very much taking shape.

Some excellent work early in the transfer window has meant three more first team players added as permanent signings.

Only four weeks on Saturday until the new season kicks off for NUFC and it is a long long time since I felt this relaxed ahead of the big kick off.

Amazing what can be achieved with a professional approach and a plan in place.

This is what I see as the Newcastle United team that is set to face Nottingham Forest on Saturday 6 August:

Pope (or Dubravka)

Trippier

Botman

Burn

Targett

Guimaraes

Joelinton

New signing (or Sean Longstaff, or Joe Willock, or Jonjo Shelvey)

Saint-Maximin

New signing (or Almiron, or Fraser)

Wilson

If you head back to Sunday 15 August 2021, this is the Newcastle United team that played West Ham at St James’ Park on the opening day of last season:

Woodman

Murphy

Fernandez

Krafth

Clark

Ritchie

Hayden

Shelvey

Almiron

Saint-Maximin

Wilson

As you can see, almost unrecognisable!

I do think Pope will edge it ahead of Dubravka, meaning an entirely new defence – keeper and back four.

Only Wilson and Saint-Maximin sure to play out of the eleven that started the 4-2 defeat to West Ham.

For anybody who would say that there were some injury problems when last season kicked off.

Yes, Dubravka and Darlow were ruled out, whilst Lascelles had a knock and only made the bench.

However, there were still loads of crazy selections and players left out by Steve Bruce, never mind his cunning tactical plan…

Joelinton was only on the bench against West Ham, as Bruce didn’t have a clue what to do with him.

Jamal Lewis was also on the bench, a left back specialist that Bruce had paid £15m for, yet the then Head Coach insisting on playing Ritchie instead, out of position and struggling for pace and a real weakness in that start to the season.

Despite having months to do so, the sole summer signing was delayed so long by Mike Ashley that Joe Willock wasn’t available for this first game of the season.

Fabian Schar was yet another player who Bruce didn’t rate, leaving him on the bench against West Ham, preferring the likes of Krafth and Clark!

Ryan Fraser yet another who Bruce badly managed, also named on the bench instead of starting.

Despite all of that and the state of that starting eleven, somehow Newcastle were 2-1 up at half-time against the Hammers! However, as numerous players have since made clear, a crippling failure to have the squad properly fit, meant that this second half under Steve Bruce saw not a single effort on target for Newcastle whilst West Ham scored three and it ended an opening day shambles.

Nothing is guaranteed once you step onto the pitch BUT what we do know now for sure, is that everybody at this football club is now doing everything they can to ensure Newcastle United are in the best possible shape by the time Saturday 6 August comes around.

This may sound normal to the fans of most other clubs but for Newcastle supporters it is like a breath of fresh air.

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