Today’s the day. The new season has finally arrived on Tyneside – and to say a lot has changed since our 4-0 win at Fulham in May is an understatement.
Fans have every right to boycott today – a few signings can’t undo the damage he’s done – but it’s time to talk football and events on the pitch just hours before the big kick off.
On a real positive note, most of our starting 11 are top 10 quality for me – Dubravka, Schar, Lascelles, Lejeune, Longstaff, Shelvey, Hayden, Saint-Maximin, Joelinton, Almiron. A few of these players have a bit to prove, but that’s a talented bunch.
We’ve got pace, energy, power, skill and creativity. Big question is – Have we got a manager able to make the most of that?!
With that in mind, I have two big questions going into the season:
1) Will our back line remain solid without Benitez? We’ve got talented defenders, but Rafa’s tactics and organisation skills were immense. I doubt we’ll have the 7th best defence in the league this time around (as we did last season), but Bruce must get the balance right. The challenge will be scoring more goals without neglecting our defensive responsibilities.
2) Can our new boys successfully replace Rondon and Perez? We have to hope Almiron, Joelinton and Saint-Maximin can step up. They’ll be exciting to watch, but they’re under pressure to deliver where it matters when you consider Rondon and Perez contributed to 32 Premier League goals last season. Our front three have undoubted pace, power and skill, but adding final product to that initial spark will be key. Let’s hope they can deliver.
If managed right, there’s no way this side should be going down.
All in all, our team excites me on paper and I believe we will do well in areas this season, however the man overseeing it has a lot to prove at Premier League level.
Let the rollercoaster that is Newcastle United football club commence!
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About Olly Hawkins
Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.