Nobody really knows how the Saudi takeover is going to go yet, but we’ve been here all too often, so it’s probably wise to ignore the speculation and expect things to stay the same for next season. We’ll talk about it briefly of course as you can’t help but get excited about how the team might look if there’s an endless money pit next year.
Saudis want a new man at the helm
There have been strong rumours of Mauricio Pochettino joining the club ahead of next season if Mike Ashley sells up. He’s odds on with some bookies to become the next Newcastle manager. There’s no smoke without fire as the saying goes.
But Rafa Benitez is next in the betting at around 5/2 and fans would welcome him back with open arms. He is loved on Tyneside. It looks like a two-horse race at the moment that’s for sure.
If you like the sound of those odds and want to back Rafa or Pochettino because Steve Bruce’s days are numbered, you can try to find betting bonuses from top UK bookies to give yourself the edge and boost your bets.
But with or without the oil money, who’s done enough this year to warrant a place in the side next season?
The reported fee for his signing was £40m. He was meant to be our next great number nine, and we couldn’t wait for him to get started. Unfortunately, after one goal in 29 league games this season, he’s in danger of becoming a toon flop.
It doesn’t help that he’s not really being utilised in his favoured position, but it’s taken him longer than expected to adapt to being a number nine. His stint in the Bundesliga had him on the left or the right of the attack most of the time, so learning to play down the middle in Steve Bruce’s system is going to take some time.
The lack of service to him has been unfortunate, to be honest, so you can’t put his abysmal season solely down to his own actions. He’s certainly a player that needs time to settle at the club, but if he fails to hit the ground running straight away next year, he could well be moved on sooner rather than later. Although with sicknote Andy Carroll as his main competition, he’ll keep his place unless we spend big again.
If only there were 10 of him. What a signing. Some fans believe he might still be a little erratic at times, but he’s come on leaps and bounds over the last few games. His pace and finish for the goal last time out against Southampton was great to see.
He’s a class act and someone we need to ensure stays at the club no matter how tempted he may be to join someone else. It’s never that easy, though, is it? Agents get in player’s ears and before you know it your prized asset is off. We tied him down for six years when we signed him so let’s hope he gives us many for thrills at St James’ Park for years to come. He definitely deserves a starting spot next year.
The ex-Spurs midfielder looks a solid addition to the side. He hasn’t set the world alight in his three Premier League appearances so far, but you can see the potential. He might need a little more time to bed in at the club. It’s a toss-up between him and Jonjo Shelvey as to who is preferred in the middle of the park at the moment, but it’s undoubtedly healthy competition.
Shelvey just edges it right now, as Steve Bruce has proven with his selection in the last two league games. However, Bentaleb has a lot to offer beyond this campaign, so it’ll be interesting who gets the nod next season if Shelvey stays, of course. He’s linked with West Ham every year it seems.
Next season’s starting XI
It’s been an average season so far. Some players have excelled whereas some have been below par, but here’s our starting XI for next season based on keeping the same personnel.
Who knows what formation we’ll play. We’ve tested a couple this year, but let’s stick with the basic 4-4-2 here. Do you agree with our picks?
CM: S Longstaff