What can Newcastle United realistically achieve this season?
As soon as the ownership of Newcastle United changed hands last October, speculation started to swirl over who the St James’ Park club might target with their new riches. Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Darwin Nunez were all mentioned as potential targets as the Magpies were identified as English football’s next superpower.
Close to £200m has been spent on new signings since then, but Newcastle are operating at a lower level of the transfer market. Eddie Howe did an exceptional job in guiding his new team away from the threat of relegation last season and has built a side on an upward trajectory, but the superstars are still to arrive.
Some of this is down to the Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations restricting Newcastle United’s spending in relation to their revenue and income, but there also seems to be a determination at St James’ Park to walk before running. So what can the Magpies realistically achieve under Howe this season?
Howe has primarily focused on Newcastle’s defence since taking over, adding Dan Burn, Matt Targett and Kieran Trippier to his backline in January. This focus has carried over into the summer window with Nick Pope lured from Burnley and Sven Botman joining from Lille after choosing the Magpies over AC Milan.
Botman has the potential to be a central pillar of the Newcastle United team for years to come. The Dutch international is physically imposing, but has the technical ability to play out from the back and hold his own with the ball at his feet. Botman is built for life in the Premier League and at just 22 has his best years ahead of him.
Bruno Guimaraes already looks a star for Newcastle after joining from Lyon in the January transfer window with Howe easing the Brazilian into his team towards the end of last season. The capture of Botman and Guimaraes has set a precedent for the Magpies in the transfer market. They are the sort of players that can carry the team forward.
Only Liverpool (51), Manchester City (43) and Tottenham Hotspur (41) have won more Premier League points in 2022 than Newcastle United (38), highlighting the way Howe has turned around the fortunes of a team that looked set for relegation until his appointment. If Newcastle can maintain this form into the 2022/23 campaign, they could be top six contenders.
“I have been through quite a lot in my career – and now I proudly sit here as manager of Newcastle,” Howe said as his team started pre-season. “My outlook doesn’t change, I think I know what it takes to be successful – and build for success. The foundation is hard work and I don’t think that will ever change. I am very excited about what we can try to be – but there is always that air of anticipation before any season. We certainly want to carry on the momentum we had.”
The problem for Newcastle United could be that the top half of the Premier League table is likely to be stronger this season than it was last season. Liverpool and Manchester City are out of sight as the best two teams in the division while Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur are strengthening.
Leicester City might be in better shape than they were last term while West Ham, who have kept hold of their best players so far this summer, will likely be competitive again. Newcastle will hope to improve on their 11th-place finish from last season, but climbing the table will be difficult. There is no doubting, though, that the Magpies are starting to take flight, it’s just a question of how high they can fly.