Football Season Guide

Newcastle United


Sven Botman (def) Lille; Matt Targett (def) Aston Villa – loan made permanent; Nick Pope (gk) Burnley;


Dwight Gayle (att) released; Freddie Woodman (gk) Preston; Isaac Hayden (mid) Norwich – on loan; Jeff Hendrick (mid) Reading – on loan; Ciaran Clark (def) Sheffield United – on loan

Following a historically poor start to last season, owner Mike Ashley finally approved a long-awaited takeover financed by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund. Coach Steve Bruce was fired, with Eddie Howe taking charge of the team to pull Newcastle clear of trouble. The new owners recruited smartly during January and the team bounced back to finish 11th in the Premier League. Smart recruitment continued this summer, as Newcastle signed prodigious centre-back Sven Botman from Lille, as well as England international Nick Pope from relegated Burnley, with a handful of squad players joining Championship sides on loan. The most important thing, however, is that the new ownership has brought stability to the club and the connection between club, players and fans has improved – something that can be seen every time Newcastle play on home soil. Newcastle’s defensive solidity could be their main strength this season. Following the arrivals of Botman and Pope, Howe could put together a very talented backline which could also feature January signings Kieran Trippier, Matt Targett and Dan Burn. Meanwhile, their lack of depth could potentially be their main weakness. The new owners have spent big to achieve a smooth squad shake-up, but Newcastle lack alternatives on the bench to cover for injured starters.


European qualification is expected to be Newcastle’s main goal, but a top-half finish could be a more realistic target in Howe’s first full season in charge.