After narrowly securing Premier League survival on the last day of the 2014/15 season, Newcastle United are very fortunate to still be a Premier League team. The disenchanted Geordie fans that fill St James’ Park to the rafters on a weekly basis are amongst some of the most loyal in the top division, which is something that owner Mike Ashley would do well to remember.
Story of Last Season
Last season was certainly one to forget for Newcastle. Fans were unhappy with Alan Pardew and they were effectively the driving force that sent him packing. He left the North East club at the end of December and their demise coincided with his departure. When Alan Pardew left Newcastle, they were 10th and his new club Crystal Palace were 18th. By the end of the season, the South Londoners replaced Newcastle in 10th place with the Geordies finishing in 15th. The fans were so incensed at their demise that they took to self-deprecating humour and eventually boycotts began to become commonplace. The Gutierrez-inspired win on the last day of the 2014/15 season that secured Premier League survival was Newcastle’s first win since the 28th of February when they beat Aston Villa 1-0.
Georginio Wijnaldum: Newcastle United signed Georginio Wijnaldum from PSV Eindhoven and he is a Dutch attacking midfielder. The fee is believed to be in the region of £14.5 million, which would make him their third most expensive signing in history. He has scored 64 Eredivisie goals during his time with Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven. It is possible that Wijnaldum could be a key component within the squad, and provide a much-needed goal threat so they can greatly improve on last season.
Aleksandar Mitrovic: Another attacking addition through the gates at St. James’ Park is Aleksandar Mitrovic, a young Serbian striker who they signed from Anderlecht. The deal is apparently worth £12.5m which is no small fee but could still prove to be a shrewd piece of business if he fulfils his potential.
Chancel Mbemba: The Magpies have acquired Chancel Mbemba; also from Belgian outfit Anderlecht. The Congolese defender made 28 appearances last term and Newcastle will be hoping that he can develop quickly into a well-rounded Premier League defender.
Jack Colback: Jack Colback is a midfielder who signed for Newcastle last season. He made 34 appearances for The Magpies and was one of the few shining lights in a dismal team. Colback is the sort of player who leaves everything on the pitch, and he will be looking to establish himself further in the heart of the Newcastle midfield next season and add to his goal tally.
Tim Krul: Tim Krul has been Newcastle’s first choice goalkeeper since the summer of 2011 and he was brilliant for Newcastle last season. Krul kept them in many games where they would not have otherwise stood a chance. He kept 5 clean sheets and had a save percentage of 65.1% last season. There is no reason why Krul will not continue to do what he does best and stop Newcastle conceding easy goals.
Rolando Aarons: Young players are the future of the game and 19-year-old Rolando Aarons could be a key player for Newcastle next season. He is relatively new to the big stage and made his senior Newcastle debut against Manchester City last season, but the early signs are promising. His style is similar to Raheem Sterling, as he is also a tricky and direct winger. If he is given a chance to establish himself, he could be key to Newcastle’s revival next season.
Steve McClaren is a manager who needs no introduction to English fans. He was manager of the national team for a year and a half and was infamously dubbed the ‘Wally with the Brolly’ when he sheltered from the rain at Wembley in The Three Lion’s miserable 3-2 defeat to Croatia that cost them qualification for Euro 2008 and his job. McClaren has signed a three-year contract at St James’ Park that could be extended to eight years and he says that one of his major objectives is to win a trophy with Newcastle United, in addition to making sure they finish in the top eight of the Premier League. However, McClaren has not got off to the best start with the Newcastle fans who have labelled him ‘deluded’ for suggesting that he can turn the North East outfit into one of Europe’s top 10 clubs.
First Six Fixtures
Newcastle United vs Southampton: Newcastle’s first match of the 2015/16 season is against Southampton, a team that are bound to push The Magpies to their limit. Southampton proved their critics wrong last season and they’ll endeavour to do it again, therefore the visitors will probably snatch all three points from Newcastle.
Swansea City vs Newcastle United: Secondly, Newcastle will be facing Swansea. The Swans showed they can cope without their talisman Wilfred Bony last season, and went on to achieve their highest placed finish in the Premier League. This is another difficult game for Newcastle but they might be lucky and achieve a draw.
Manchester United vs Newcastle United: In their third game of the season, it’s hard to imagine that Newcastle will leave Old Trafford with much more than their bruised egos. LVG and his new signings will be out to prove a point and challenge for the title, so Newcastle may face their wrath.
Newcastle United vs Arsenal: This will be Newcastle’s second consecutive match against a top four team. The outcome probably won’t vary too much either. However, if Arsenal are having a bad day, Newcastle could take advantage and manage a draw.
West Ham United vs Newcastle United: Newcastle beat West Ham in their final game of last season and there is no reason why they can’t do it again. The Hammers will have the home advantage this time but Newcastle should have enough to at least threaten to take all three points.
Newcastle United vs Watford: As Watford are a newly promoted side who will be keen to get off to a good start, Newcastle may have a battle on their hands. However, The Magpies should be able to draw on their Premier League experience and ensure they get the three points at the end of the 90 minutes.
At the end of their first six games, Newcastle will probably be closer to the bottom end of the table than they are to the top, perhaps only accumulating five or six points.
Final Standing Prediction – 12th
Although Newcastle are likely to have a tricky start to the 2015/16 season, they should pull through it. The Boot Room predicts a 12th place finish for Newcastle. This is because before last season, Newcastle United were a team that usually finished mid-table and now with a new manager at the helm who has made some seemingly astute signings in attacking areas, there is definitely the potential to improve. The Geordie side are bound to make up for last season and give the St James’ Park faithful something good to shout about.
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