October 3, 2022

Newcastle is a before and after story. Most of the before and after is new sports wash owned by Saudi Arabia. But along with that comes the before and after of the manager they hired, Eddie Howe. Their great escape from relegation is unlike anything the Premier League has ever seen and that’s without spending any significant cash in January due to Financial Fair Play concerns. Before Howe’s demotion with Bournemouth In 2020, it looked likely he could have the inside track for the next top-six job opening, but he ended up being more than a year away from coaching before Newcastle came knocking.

It was a risky move for Howe and the Magpies as they looked set for relegation at the time, but he took them up on their offer. Newcastle sank into the relegation zone with Norwich City and Burnley, both of whom would later fall victim to the season-ending slump. Newcastle looked beyond saving when Howe was appointed in November. Along with bottom of the league with just five points, they were winless in their first 11 games scoring just 12 goals while conceding the second most in the league with 24.

The first match Howe managed was a 2-0 defeat Arsenal, but the improvement could be seen immediately as the Gunners only had six shots on target compared to Newcastle’s five in the match. From there, Newcastle would go on quite a tear, winning 44 under Howe to finish 11th in the Premier League. Howe switch to 4-3-3 and convert Joelinton to a hard-working midfielder he helped solidify their defense and position in the Premier League. It is no wonder that on the eve of the new season, Newcastle announced that they were giving their manager a thick new extension.

Transfers make the world go round

Making only modest additions, Newcastle were on pace for a top-four finish to end the season and are therefore one of the trendy options to crash the European party this year. Saint James’ Park was rocking as fans could feel the magic and remember their last European appearances in the 2012-13 Europa League. In January, the Magpies made 4.5 additions Bruno Guimaraes, Chris Wood, Dan Byrne, Kieran Trippier and Matt Targett. Trippier missed most of last season with a foot injury he picked up in February, but that didn’t stop Newcastle taking the fourth most points in the league in 2022 with 38.

Led by their defense allowing just 20 goals in 2022 for the fifth best in the Premier League, Newcastle have laid the foundations for a strong upcoming season. They have further enriched the back line by adding Sven Botmanand making Matt Targett’s loan move from Aston Villa permanent while acquiring Nick Pope to play behind them, but Newcastle are also learning that buying a goalscorer is easier said than done.

Hugo Ekitike looked set for a move to Tyneside but PSG swooped in at the last minute to secure the signature of the talented youngster. For a Newcastle team looking to make the Champions League now, they are quickly finding that they either have to pay superior transfer fees or wages to compete with traditional European powers and even then, teams with a history of competing at the highest level. the levels will probably win.

They don’t give up on making a statement move to accompany Guimaraes as they now hunt James Madison. If he did make a move, he would likely move the right wing into a front three Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin giving Newcastle an attack that can rival West Ham and Manchester in their bid to be the best United in the Premier League. Leicester are not budging as they demand more than the £50m Newcastle have offered.

If the Magpies can get a top striker in the squad, their European prospects will increase, but with Howe and a strong defense in tow, what they have done is raise their floor making the team difficult to break down. Wilson and Saint-Maximin would give the team plenty to rest on, but a third scorer is needed sooner rather than later. It’s just hard to do it when the team has no real income because the exits only go through free transfers.

Defense means everything

Given Newcastle’s set-up, it’s hard to see them falling below tenth in the league, even if Howe’s success last season was due to a continued bounce back from the new manager. The defense of Trippier, Botman, Burn and Targett will be one of the best shields outside the top six and that’s while they protect England international Nick Pope. It may take a bit of Botman to transition from Lilespecially since he will be one of the slower centre-backs in the Premier League, but knows how to position himself to avoid being caught in situations where a striker is at an advantage.

Good on the ball and strong in the air, Boatman and Byrne are a formidable pair in the middle, also providing targets for Trippier for set-pieces. With these five at the top of their game, if the attack is mediocre, Newcastle will be more than okay. But making Europe is likely to slip from their grasp, depending on how West Ham and Manchester United play during the season. West Ham will need to overcome deep concerns to retain their place in the top eight, but a slip-up could see Newcastle move into a Europa Conference League spot which would be a major step forward for the club.

With Manchester United bringing in Erik ten Haag, Howe will want to hope that the switch to a new style of play will see United sink to new lows by bringing in another team that Newcastle can get past. If they look to be on the brink of a European spot in the second half of the season, Newcastle not having heavy World Cup commitments could work in their favor to hit the ground running for a strong second half again. Bringing in Dan Ashworth from Brighton as their new sporting director means they will also be able to make smarter decisions in the transfer market moving forward. A good January signing could be the difference between the top half and making Europe, so it wouldn’t be a surprise for Newcastle to be aggressive.

Howe is at the helm and the team is behind him. Everyone should just stay healthy. Injuries are the biggest thing that can get in Newcastle’s way with Wilson, Saint-Maximin and Trippier missing significant time last year. If they drop again, the team could slip down the table, but at full strength, Newcastle are knocking on the door of the top six and will be able to crash the party sooner rather than later.

Bold predictions

  • Premier League finish: 8th
  • Top scorer: Callum Wilson
  • Player of the season: Nick Pope
  • Something unexpected: Kieran Trippier scores more goals than assists.

How to watch and odds

  • Date: Saturday, August 6 | year: 10 am. ET
  • Location: St. James’ Park — Newcastle upon Tyne, England
  • TV: None | Live broadcast: Peacock
  • Chance: Newcastle -155; Draw +280; Nottingham Forest +450 (via Caesars Sportsbook)

Selected game | Newcastle v Nottingham Forest

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