If the final game of last season is anything to go by then Newcastle fans can be optimistic for 2015-16. They put five past Tottenham Hotspur and while the man who scored two of those goals, Georginio Wijnaldum, has left the club, the Magpies undoubtedly have options up front.
Aleksandar Mitrovic scored 9 in the Premier League last season which is pretty good for a 21 year old in his first campaign. The last time Newcastle were relegated they were fired back into the top flight by a tall and powerful forward who sometimes lost his cool. Newcastle who are favourites to win the English second tier in this year’s championship betting will be hoping Mitrovic becomes the new Andy Carroll so they can sell him to Liverpool for something like £60 million next year. The Serbian will undoubtedly lead the line for the Toon next season on the occasions when he isn’t suspended.
If Mitrovic loses his cool and starts punching players from Rotherham United and Burton Albion, Newcastle have players waiting in the reserves. The signing of Dwight Gayle could prove inspiring. The Englishman is undoubtedly a lethal finisher and scored 7 goals in 9 matches during a loan spell in the Championship for Peterborough United in 2012. The price tag was large but Gayle wasn’t really given consistent first team football by former club Crystal Palace to show what he can do.
Aside from the big two, it’s easy to forget about Ayoze Perez. The 22 year-old is far too good to be sat on the bench and will need game time in order to further his career. The club also has youngster Adam Armstrong as well as Emmanuel Riviere who, despite popular opinion, is still actually a Newcastle United player.
It’s quite a task for Rafael Benitez to actually get all of these attacking players into the same starting line-up. The Spaniard played a 4-4-1-1 formation for much of his time at Liverpool but switched to a 4-2-3-1 at Napoli and Real Madrid. Benitez could well start with Rolando Aarons and Matt Ritchie out wide with Ayoze Perez in the attacking midfield position behind either Mitrovic or Gayle.
Failing that, he could go for a simple 4-4-2, a formation which is far more popular in the Championship than the Premier League, and play Mitrovic and Gayle together. Mitrovic/Gayle has something of a big man/little man pairing around it, somewhat similar to the Sam Vokes/Andre Gray pairing which brought Burnley so much success last season. That could be an example for Newcastle to follow in 2016-17.
Newcastle United go into the coming season full of confidence in their attacking options but should heed caution. The Championship is an incredibly difficult league to get out of; just ask Blackburn, Bolton, Fulham, or Wolves. As the biggest side in the division, every club will want to get a result against Newcastle, and add to the fact that most of the players – and the manager – have no experience at this level and it could prove challenging. That aside, the quality of the attacking players the club has should be more than enough to fire the Magpies to automatic promotion.