Are Newcastle ready to compete on four fronts?
It's a big moment for the club. Can they grasp it?
It was both entirely expected and one of the biggest surprises of last season.
When Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund bought Newcastle United nearly two years ago, everyone expected they’d swiftly climb up the league table. We all know the single biggest cause of success in football is money, which Newcastle now have plenty of. Throw enough cash at the problem and you can turn a basket case club like Manchester City into one of the greatest sides ever to play football. We all expected Newcastle to build a side to qualify for the Champions League sooner or later. It was the safest bet you could make.
But I don’t think anyone expected it to happen this quickly. Newcastle were sitting in the relegation zone as recently as February 2022. It was supposed to take a long time to turn the ship around. Instead, it took just over two months. After an initial nine games where Eddie Howe hadn’t yet improved results too much from the Steve Bruce era, the Magpies won six of their next seven to immediately make relegation an afterthought. Things were a little more up-and-down for the rest of that campaign, but they turned up the following season absolutely meaning business, hitting their best Premier League campaign since Kevin Keegan’s infamous near miss of 1995-96.
Some of the underlying data was arguably even more impressive than the results. Their xG difference was bettered only by Manchester City (though Arsenal were in second place for most of the season before a late stumble). On the defensive side, their xG conceded was better than Man City, creating a strange world where plucky old entertainers Newcastle have the tightest defence in England. And the attack was still pretty good. Newcastle were just a really good team last season. It isn’t much more complicated than that.
Can they keep it up? Can they step it up? Let’s take a look through this team.
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