It’s a huge comedown for a club that boasted names like Kevin Keegan, Jimmy Lawrence, Andy Carroll and Michael Owen and made many a top side of the English Premier League sweat. Post relegation from the 2015-16 EPL season, Newcastle come in as favorites for the next tier of championship football. It’s a similar fate for the club’s new manager Rafael Benitez who was until the middle of last season, Spanish giant, Real Madrid’s manager. But Benitez is expected to bring some kind of equilibrium and new energy to the Newcastle side.
Thanks to the enormous amounts accumulated by way of television rights over the seasons in the EPL, Benitez was able to splurge close to a £46 million on new talent. One such signing is the £12 million spent to bring in 26-year Scottish winger-striker from Bouremouth and £10 million for Dwight Gayle, the 25-year old striker from Crystal Palace. Gayle seems to be proving true to the investment made in him scoring 4 goals from 4 games. Despite a huge war-chest and profits from a £14 million sale of someone like Georginio Wijnaldum to Liverpool and the potential exit of Moussa Sissoko, critics feel Benitez lost out on the chance to acquire serious European talent like Anthony Knockaert, the French under-21 winger from Brighton & Hove Albion and the prolific striker, Bas Dost, from VfL Wolfsburg.
There seems to be a concerted effort to give Newcastle an english flavour and imbibe it with a fighting spirit and commitment that has eluded the side for long. To that effect, Benitez has appointed Jamaal Lascelles as the captain post the exit of the 34-year old Argentine, Fabricio Coloccini. Dwight Gayle and Matt Ritchie, the likes of Isaac Hayden, Dwight Gayle, Grant Hanley and Ciaran Clark make up the local talent for the Magpies. Gayle and Ritchie will be the two players to look out for and Benitez is counting on these two to provide lots of goals. Jonjo Shelvey will have a pivotal role in the midfield assisted by Jack Colback. 20-year old Rolando Aarons could prove to be an asset at the back along with Jamie Sterry and upfront the striking force will always have Ayoze, the young Spaniard who already has found the back of the net twice from his two appearances this season.
How have Newcastle fared so far in the championship? Not up to expectations definitely. They are in the 4th spot currently with 9 points after 5 games (with 3 wins and 2 losses). An embarrassing 2-1 loss at home at St.James Park to the current and possibly temporary Table leader Huddersfield (13 points) and the other a 0-1 to 2nd spot Fulton (11 points) account for the 2 defeats. A brilliant 4-1 win against Reading has been the highpoint for the Magpies this season. Despite minor hiccups, Benitez has managed to clobber up a side full of youth, pace and creativity that can take them all the way to the top and entry into next season’s Premier League once again and betting odds heavily favor them to lift the Championship title.
Despite a less than perfect start 7/4 seems a fair price to take on Newcastle to win the Championship. For more betting tips please visit Football Match Previews.
Betting Odds for top 5 title contenders
Paddy Power odds
Aston Villa: 16/1