Ladies and Gentlemen, the Premier League season is back and we will be able to watch our beloved Newcastle United weekly again after an absolutely dire offseason.
The sense of optimism following last year’s 10th place finish has been extinguished a bit by Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley, who have failed to fulfill their promises (which were minimal to begin with) to Rafa and the fans.
Nonetheless, the prospect of watching the black and white stripes will reinvigorate the fanbase as it should given the fact that we have Rafa Benitez running the show.
Just like last season, the likelihood of doing well in the Premier League has been diminished by lack of commitment from Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley in the transfer market.
While the squad has been improved in some respects, the overarching theme is that the team lacks depth in certain departments. Starting with the positives, the squad is fully staffed in the center-back department. Additionally, Ki will bring Premier League experience that will keep competition for the two central midfield berths interesting. The goalkeeping position will also no longer be an issue with Martin Dubravka lining up between the posts.
Now for the negatives, Newcastle find themselves incredibly shortstaffed in the full-back department. DeAndre Yedlin alone missed 5 matches last year and 6 matches the year before due to hamstring injuries. Similarly, Paul Dummett has missed 45 matches in the past five years due to hamstring and knee injuries. Having Manquillo as the only designated backup at either of the full-back positions does not inspire confidence at all.
Elsewhere, there is no competition or even capable backup to Ayoze Perez at the No. 10 slot. If Ayoze was to go down with an injury, Newcastle would find themselves in serious trouble.
It’s also worth noting that none of the frontline options (Rondon, Muto, and Joselu) have proven to be prolific in front of goal. Just like last season, Newcastle may struggle to find the back of the net and will instead have to rely on defensive solidity.
Building on tenth place finish from last season would be nice, but Newcastle’s unwillingness to match their rivals in the transfer market this summer leaves them in an incredibly vulnerable position.
The bulk of NUFC’s points came against clubs in the bottom half of the table, but the team will find these points harder to come by since many of our rivals have strengthened significantly.
Despite the long list of negatives, the fans can count on the fighting spirit of the players putting on the black and white stripes. While many of the players in this squad might not stand out individually, the team as a whole is united and fully behind Benitez.
In the second half of last season, victories against Manchester United, Arsenal, and Chelsea demonstrated that the team can hang with the best of them. Many times in the past, Newcastle United has taken on the role of underdog and thrived.
Don’t be surprised if they do the same this year.
Here is our team’s predictions for Final League Position, Top Scorer, Player w/ Most Assists, Player of the Season, Best New Signing, and Surprise of the Season.