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Staff Edition: Newcastle United 20/21 Season Preview

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The staff gives its predictions for the new season.

Newcastle United v Crewe Alexandra - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images

Can you believe it? The new season is here, and there is actually plenty to be excited about! Here are our predictions for the season!

Best Signing

Adam: Jamal Lewis. Finally our defensive woes at LB will be solved by the speedy Northern Irishman.

Bryan: Jamal Lewis. Don’t get me wrong, I think Ryan Fraser will produce great football, but we desperately needed a defensive signing. He’s young, and he’s very able, and I think Jamal Lewis is going to show the entire Premier League why he’s one of the best youngsters at his position.

Cameron: Ryan Fraser. I think Ryan Fraser combined with ASM on the wings brings something different to our attack. It makes us more dangerous and I’m excited.

Elijah: Ryan Fraser. Fraser is likely going to lead this team in assists, and I think will probably be one of the more fit players at the club. Wilson could easily miss time being injured due to his injury history (and the fact Steve Bruce is his manager), Hendrick is going to have a hard time make an impact as the third choice midfielder, and it is going to be hard for Lewis as a defender to have a big enough impact to be the signing of the season.

Newcastle United Training Session
Best singing is probably going to be one of these three lads
Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images

Mirza: Ryan Fraser. Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson are both hoping to bounce back from a rough campaign that saw Bournemouth’s relegation. Both are shrewd signings, but I just have to give the edge to Ryan Fraser. Having him and ASM on our two flanks will cause defenses all sorts of problems. Steve Bruce also likes to swap flanks during games to unsettle defenses, and I think this will work well for Fraser. I see him having a good season and bouncing back from his rough patch.

Zack: Jamal Lewis. I really believe that Lewis is a more important signing that Callum Wilson. Last year we saw what would happen when Newcastle would not score goals: it was hideous football at times, but it was survival football. This was largely due to the work of the backline, which has been hit with injuries and outgoing loans in the last two weeks. In order for us to survive again this year, a natural left-back was the top priority of the summer, and Lewis is an exciting 22-year-old fullback who can immediately fill that void.

MVP

Adam: ASM. Please can we add a Messi like buyout clause to his contrast ASAP? He’s the greatest thing to happen to Newcastle since Jimmy Nail.

Bryan: Miguel Almirón. Stuck between ASM and Miggy, I predicted earlier this offseason that Miguel Almirón is going to break ten goals this season. I believe that. He’s going to arguably be the most important person on offense, especially if Joelinton and Callum Wilson don’t show up.

Cameron: Allan Saint-Maximin. Aside from his allure as a technically and athletically dominant player, the production came late last year. He will boost his stats this year and become undeniably the most valuable player.

Southampton v Newcastle United - Premier League - St Mary’s Stadium
There is no doubt that if he stays healthy ASM will be one of the best players at Newcastle
Photo by Tom Mulholland/EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images

Elijah: Martin Dubravka. Every year we do this song and dance trying to predict an MVP for Newcastle. People typically want to go with the most exciting player on the team, your ASM’s or Miggy’s. Or they go a different direction and try to guess which signing will be the standout and go with them. What has been consistent the past 3 seasons is that Martin Dubravka has been Newcastle’s best player. He essentially is one of the biggest reason Newcastle is in the Prem, and every season he keeps getting better.

Mirza: ASM. Almirón might be close, but ASM is the only right answer here. Newcastle looked a top half side when ASM was playing and that is a testament to his ability to push the ball up the pitch and create scoring chances. Hopefully, he retains the statistical efficiency he showed towards the end of last season and further expands upon it. Either way, he will be our most valuable player.

Zack: Jamaal Lascelles. An admitted critic of Lascelles in the past two seasons, I think this upcoming campaign will be his main act. With three to four new players being potentially added to the starting eleven, vocal leadership will be a must for the team to coalesce and hit the ground running. Lascelles has proved he can be the commanding shot-caller, and with the added motivation of putting himself in the contention for an England place in next year’s Euros, I predict a true breakout season for the skipper.

Top Goalscorer

Adam: Callum Wilson. Let’s be honest, he doesn’t have a lot of competition?

Bryan: Miguel Almirón. If it isn’t Miggy, it’ll be Callum Wilson, but I’m placing my bets on Miggy. He’s truly settled in to his role, and I think he’s only going to build off of it to turn into a huge threat. The Premier League better watch out, because the lethality of Miggy is now in full swing.

Cameron: Callum Wilson. If Callum Wilson is the regular starter and he takes penalties, he will be the top scorer. Assuming Andy Carroll doesn’t beat him out as the starter (eyes emoji), Wilson will probably notch ten or eleven goals this year and that would be just fine in my book.

Newcastle United Training Session
the lad can hit them... but will it be enough?
Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images

Elijah: Miguel Almirón. Miggy was able to find himself in a lot of scoring positions as a secondary runner towards the end of the season, unfortunately for him, Allan Saint-Maximin was one of the only players that could pick out a pass to reward the run. Ryan Fraser joining the attack only helps Almirón as he is an additional pass first attacker. I think this as well as Miggy’s pace on the counter-attack will allow him more opportunities in front of goal. I think Wilson will find himself playing less matches than we think because Steve Bruce will once again try to force Joelinton to play as much as possible.

Mirza: Miguel Almirón. I want to say Callum Wilson. I really do, but his injury record keeps me from doing so. Like last year, I think the burden of goal scoring will be shared pretty evenly. With that said, I do see Miguel Almirón getting the slight edge here, because he will of course be given consistent minutes and will hopefully take up threatening positions.

Zack: Callum Wilson. Not a terribly daring pick, I think it will only take 6 or 7 goals for Wilson to be our top scorer this season. Although I have questioned his Premier League goal record in the past, I believe that an attacking-midfield three of Fraser/Almirón/Saint-Maximin will provide ample service for Wilson to break double-figures for the second time in his six season top flight career. I predict 11-14 goals for the Englishman.

Assist Leader

Adam: Shelvinho. JonJo will continue his reign as the Pirlo of Tyneside.

Bryan: Ryan Fraser. This is why we signed him. He was one of the assist leaders in the Premier League, so do not be surprised if Newcastle United start scoring more goals. The guy just knows what he’s doing, and I’m super excited to actually see some assists put on the board.

Southampton FC v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League
he’s already got chemistry with Newcastle’s starting striker... would be shocked if that chemistry's not rekindled
Photo by Robin Jones - AFC Bournemouth/AFC Bournemouth via Getty Images

Cameron: Miguel Almirón. Miguel Almirón will be THE creative attack minded midfielder this season and he has more weapons who will make better runs for him. He will have a full season under his belt and he should emerge as a reliable Premier league quality CAM.

Elijah: Ryan Fraser. Fraser comes into this Newcastle side as already a player that tends to swing in more crosses than anyone else in the side has developed an ability to dribble in the box and find a secondary runner in the box, and already has chemistry with Newcastle’s starting striker. One cool stat is that Wilson and Fraser hold the record for most combined goals in a Premier League season (12), a record they gained in the 17/18 campaign.

Mirza: Ryan Fraser. 14 assists in a Premier League season is no joke. Players like Jessie Lingard can’t luck into 14 assists, so what Ryan Fraser did two seasons ago was the real deal. I think he will continue to bag assists this season and will lead the team in this stat.

Zack: Allan Saint-Maximin. We saw flashes of Saint-Maximin’s distribution abilities at the tail-end of last season, which was at their peak during his three assist dismantling at Bournemouth during our 4-1 victory in July. I foresee an 8-10 assist campaign for the mercurial Frenchman, with his ever-growing confidence and flair taking center stage. Will the ASM-CW connection finish in the top five of the league in goal contributions this season? We will see.

Worst Signing

Adam: Jeff Hendrick. He will play less and less as the season goes on and fade into obscurity...

Bryan: Jeff Hendrick. No knock against Hendrick, he just won’t be expected to do much more than provide depth.

Cameron: Gillespie, I guess. Maybe he gets some minutes, but I don’t expect him to be anything to write home about. And once big Marty Dubs comes back, we will probably stop thinking about Gillespie. I’d hate to summon bad energy against our new signings so I picked a backup keeper which is pretty safe.

Newcastle United Training Session
El Jefe
Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images

Elijah: Jeff Hendrick. I don’t think Hendrick will be bad... I just think he simply won’t play as much as the other signings. The other 3 signings thus far are likely going to be starters for Newcastle while Hendrick faces competition not only from Shelvey and Hayden, but also 3 young midfielders behind him itching to make the starting XI. None of the other signings have any competition for their position and Hendrick might spend the majority of the season coming off the bench or starting when Hayden or Shelvey need a break.

Mirza: Jeff Hendrick. See above and below.

Zack: Jeff Hendrick. To preface, it is not that I think that Hendrick will be a disappointment or underperform, but more that I think his role will be smaller and consequently less impactful than the three other first-teamers brought in over the past two weeks. Newcastle’s deepest position right now is central midfield, with Shelvey, Longstaff(x2), and Hayden all proven in that role. Hendrick will be useful, just not as heavily featured as other signings.

Biggest Disappointment

Adam: Big Joe. Hopefully a bedding in season will see an improvement from Big Joe this year. But I wouldn’t count on it...

Bryan: Jonjo Shelvey. I don’t think Shelvey has that great of a year. I think he’s going to start declining, and we’ll soon see other players begin to take his place. I’m sure a lot of people are going to disagree with me on this one, but I think he drops off.

Cameron: Callum Wilson. Callum Wilson has an injury history, so he might not be a miracle striker for us this year. I think he takes this award only because expectations are high and I’m not sure he’ll play the whole season to reach those numbers we want.

Elijah: Jacob Murphy. A lot of folks are high on Jacob Murphy after a solid preseason and his inclusion into the squad. However, I don’t think he is going to be good enough this season to leave a lasting impression on the team. If Matt Ritchie is still around he will likely find himself in a Christian Atsu esque role where he is relied on in almost exclusively cup matches. I personally think one more loan move would do him well, but I hope he proves me wrong and proves he’s going to be a big part of this team’s success. Newcastle have needed a dynamic winger off the bench, and he has the potential to be that guy for us. I just don’t think that will happen this season.

Newcastle United v West Ham United - Premier League
lord voldemort needs to have another solid season or he will be relegated to the bench
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Mirza: Jonjo Shelvey. I would say Joelinton, but the bar for him now is literally trapping a ball and mustering up a shot on target. With Newcastle going out in the market and signing good attacking players, the emphasis on playing attacking football will be greater than it has been in many seasons. In a more attacking setup, Newcastle will likely start playing with more possession, and I think Jonjo Shelvey will find himself getting marked out of the game more often. We rely so heavily on Jonjo Shelvey to move the ball from defense to attack, and with no new starting caliber central midfielders coming through the door, Jonjo will have to continue to shoulder that burden. Don’t get me wrong, Jonjo is a fantastic player, but the pressure to fulfill this task of moving the ball from defense to attack with increased attention from opposition sides might be too much for him, especially given his history of checking out of games.

Zack: Steve Bruce’s management of the Longstaff brothers. With any increase in depth comes the need for strategic rotation and balance of playing time for the carousel of players. My concern is that Steve Bruce has proven in that past that he struggles to do exactly that: feature and rotate players. Both of the Longstaff brothers are in vitally formative stages of their young careers, and in order for them to grow and advance they will need to be carefully managed. I am yet to be convinced that Bruce can and will be that manager.

Most Pleasant Surprise

Adam: Matty Longstaff. Wor Matty will continue his development and outscore his brother as he stakes his claim as the best ginger to ever don a Toon shirt.

Bryan: Joelinton. I’m just going to go out on a limb here and say that with Callum Wilson in the lineup Joelinton moves to more of a second striker role. I think in that position he begins to actually thrive and produce for the club. I think this season will be good for him, and I think he’ll be the pleasant surprise of the season.

Cameron: Federico Fernandez. I think Andy Carroll will get some picks here, having looked sharp in preseason and having such a low bar for goal scoring set by Joelintinho. But... I’m going with Federico Fernandez. We had a rotating cast of center backs who seemed like plug and play, interchangeable soldiers of the house of Bruce. Lejeune and Schär may be gone, and something happened with Dummett (I’m unclear on what was up with Paul Dummett). Fede Fernandez also looks strong and I feel confident about him carrying more responsibility this year.

Elijah: Sean Longstaff the #10. Sean Longstaff in the number 10 role last season resulted in Sean Longstaff’s best two matches of the season. I am hoping that with a little more midfield depth sean is able to get a few matches playing as a number ten. It makes sense for the lad as he is not a great defender, a great passer, is surprisingly athletic and has an eye for goal. Some of the runs he was making from the number 10 role were fantastic and due to his experience playing as a holding midfielder he was more than able to drop deep into the midfield and carry the ball forward

AFC Bournemouth v Newcastle United - Premier League
patty cake
Photo by Peter Cziborra/Pool via Getty Images

Mirza: Sean Longstaff. Newcastle is going to try and play more attacking football and someone will be needed in the middle of the park to keep things moving. Longstaff has gone through a tough stretch, so little is expected of him. I think he will finally find his niche in BruceyBall and turn a few heads.

Zack: Javier Manquillo gets a Spain call-up. Although this is not a direct benefit for the Newcastle squad, my audaciously bold prediction comes as a product of Manquillo putting in Team of the Season level performances this campaign. I was extremely impressed by the Spaniard establishing himself as the clear starting right-back this past season, and I predict him building on that momentum in an exponential way. With Danny Carvahal and Jesus Navas currently the only natural right-backs in the Spanish team, Manquillo’s consistency in the domestic league gets him a call-up in the run-in towards Euro 2021.

Final Table Placement:

Adam: 16th. We will be safe. Just.

Bryan: 11th. Read my article baby. Don’t believe those number crunchers, we have a great squad this season and I think we’ll do some good things. Looking forward to what I think will be a solid season.

Cameron: 13th. It could be better if signings are a hit. Score 2 goals regularly? I’ll believe it when I see it. Defense should be somewhat good and as long as our creative players create, we won’t finish less than 13th. There are some teams in the league who aren’t promising and I think it should be easy to avoid relegation at minimum. I’m usually pessimistic about Newcastle and that won’t change. I’d rather be happily surprised than burned by overconfidence and that’s just a lifestyle. Go Mariners.

Elijah: 15th. Newcastle have made a fair few signings that will add to a fairly experienced Premier League team. With a goalscorer like Wilson, and another playmaker like Fraser joining an attack that was starting to find its legs during the restart I fully expect the attack to be better than it was at the beginning of last season. I don’t see Newcastle winning a ton, but I can for sure see them picking up a ton of draws and surviving firmly in the middle of the table.

Mirza: 15th. This team has some quality players, but how high or low Newcastle will go comes down to only one person: Steve Bruce. Last season, we were near or in the absolute bottom tier for just about every relevant attacking stat. Many are hesitant to believe stats, especially given that Newcastle was never really dragged in to the relegation battle last season. However, Bruceyball failed the eyeball test for large stretches of the season, and his insistence on putting players way out of position to maintain certain formations was particularly off-putting. I hope that for Newcastle’s sake, Bruce makes more reasonable decisions this season, but I wouldn’t put it past him to continue in his ways. After all, there’s a reason his managerial Premier League record is so woeful.

Zack: 11th.