Just as expected, Newcastle United did not take more than a season to bounce back into the Premier League.
Following relegation to the Championship at the end of the 2015-16 season, the Magpies returned to the top flight of English football at the end of the 2016-17 campaign. Rafael Benitez’s side were the strongest and the best team in the Championship, and them winning promotion and the league title did not come as a surprise to anyone.
In the Premier League, though, things are much different. Just like the other two promoted sides, Brighton and Hove Albion and Huddersfield Town, Newcastle’s main aim this season has to be survival in the Premier League. True, the Magpies are one of the biggest clubs in England and attract 50,000 or so fans for their home matches at St. James’ Park, but the current team is not equipped to challenge for the top 10. Clubs such as West Ham United, Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion have better players and, perhaps more importantly, they are more established in the Premier League.
Newcastle’s start to the 2017-18 Premier League campaign was less than impressive, but results have improved in recent weeks. Three successive wins and a 1-1 draw with Liverpool were hugely encouraging results, and the fans must be brimming with optimism that Benitez’s side will not get relegated. There is little surprise then that Newcastle are 7/1 to go down to the Championship according to latest Premier League betting odds.
Despite the recent results, Newcastle should not get carried away. Victories over Stoke City and Swansea City were by a single-goal margin, with the winners coming from Jamaal Lascelles – a defender. The main problem with the Magpies has been their strikers not scoring goals. Joselu, signed from Stoke in the summer transfer window, has found the net just twice in the Premier League, while Aleksandar Mitrovic has scored once. Dwight Gayle failed to make an impact in the English top flight with Crystal Palace, and the early signs suggest that he is not going to do much for Newcastle either in the Premier League.
For Newcastle to have a successful season and to push for a top-ten finish in the Premier League, they need to sign a proven goalscorer in the January transfer window. Benitez needs to find a striker who will arrive at the club in the middle of the season, hit the ground running and score 10 to 15 goals in the second half of the campaign. Joselu could come good and his finishing could improve as the season progresses, but there is a reason why Stoke let the 27-year-old leave for a Premier League rival – he is just not very good.
Newcastle look good in defence, and if Jonjo Shelvey gets his act together and remains disciplined, then Benitez will not need to spend money on a midfielder either. Of course, if a top-quality number 10 becomes available in the January transfer window, then Newcastle should make all efforts to sign him, but first and foremost they need a striker who can put away chances. Without that, the Magpies could be looking at another season fighting for survival in the Premier League.