Despite major fan opposition, Steve Bruce continues into his third season as Newcastle (To avoid relegation – 1/5) boss and will seek to build on what was a solid end to the last campaign.
At the beginning of April, Newcastle were hovering just above the drop zone but a run of five wins from their last eight, including victories against Leicester and West Ham, saw them finish a respectable 12th last season.
Many members of the Toon Army see Bruce as a cheap appointment made by Mike Ashley and his previous connection to Sunderland doesn’t help matters.
Even the most ardent Bruce sceptic would admit 12th place with their current squad is a good achievement and they will be aiming to build upon that, though they must dip into the market before the window shuts.
Their first match is at home to David Moyes’ West Ham on August 15 (Match betting – Newcastle 11/5, West Ham 23/20, draw 23/10).
Hopes for the new season
Realistically, unless the long, protracted takeover happens, Newcastle’s limit is probably mid-table.
Money has been relatively tight for some time and even though they have spent considerable amounts on certain players – Joelinton being the prime example – their outlay is generally less than their rivals.
Bruce does have a decent starting XI but squad depth is their main downfall. Avoiding a relegation battle will be key to their season, and getting off to a good start is vital.
If Newcastle underperform early on, the boo-boys will be back out in force and another psychodrama will ensue.
Arrivals and Departures
Joe Willock – returned to Arsenal after loan
Christian Atsu – released
Henri Saivet – released
Andy Carroll – released
Florian Lejeune – undisclosed to Alaves
Newcastle have probably lost their star man from last season in Joe Willock, following his return to Arsenal. His goals from midfield greatly contributed to their rise away from relegation at the end of last season and they will be difficult to replace.
Elsewhere, the livewire that is Allan Saint-Maximin will be one to focus on – the lightning-quick Frenchman suffered with injuries and long Covid last season and will hope for a trouble-free upcoming campaign in order to shine.
Callum Wilson (Top Newcastle scorer – 4/11) will surely be the main man for Newcastle this season, however.
The England forward moved to Newcastle for £20million from Bournemouth last season and had a good campaign, scoring 12 in 26 top-flight games.
He has taken the fabled number nine shirt and a season of him being fully fit could see him propel Newcastle up the table – and regain his Three Lions place.
Bruce alternated between a 5-3-2 and 4-3-3 formation last season with added focus on being hard to break down.
They do have counter-attacking capability in the form of Saint-Maximin while Ryan Fraser, will be hoping for better this term after a below-par return upon his arrival from Bournemouth.
Newcastle fans aren’t particularly bowled over by those tactics with many seemingly still yearning for a return to the “Kevin Keegan entertainers” days.
But Bruce – one of the most experienced Premier League managers ever – will be resilient enough to put up with criticism.
Last season – 12th.