Newcastle United may be heading into the first international break of the new season still awaiting their first victory of the campaign, but there are certainly still plenty of reasons for supporters to be feeling optimistic about what lies ahead.
The Magpies are embarking on their fifth season since earning promotion back to the Premier League and second under manager Steve Bruce, who masterminded a 12th-place finish last term, as well as the club’s joint-highest points total since returning to the top-flight.
That should provide Newcastle with a strong platform to build upon this year, and we have come up with the top-five reasons why the club could be in for a decent season.
1. Proven Goalscorer in the Ranks
England international Callum Wilson was signed last summer from Bournemouth to improve Newcastle’s goalscoring threat and he certainly lived up to those expectations during his first season at St James’ Park, scoring 12 Premier League goals.
That tally was made even more impressive as it came from just 23 starts, with the 29-year-old being forced to miss large parts of the season due to a persistent hamstring problem.
Wilson now appears to be over those issues, and he has already struck two goals in three league appearances this term, so if he can remain fit, then Newcastle could have a 20-goal a season striker in the top flight for the first time since Alan Shearer notched 22 in 2003-04 – a year when the Magpies finished fifth.
2. Saint-Maximin Keeps Fans on the Edge of Their Seats
If Wilson is Newcastle’s main goalscorer, then Allan Saint-Maximin is the chief creator and joker in the pack.
The Frenchman, signed from Nice in 2019, is undoubtedly one of the most creative and unpredictable players in the Premier League and he has already been involved in two of Newcastle’s four goals this season.
Only Wolves winger Adama Traore has completed more dribbles than Saint-Maximin in the Premier League across this season and last, while the 24-year-old was also one of the most fouled players in the top-flight last term.
Saint-Maximin also features highly for Newcastle when it comes to assists, chances created and key passes, and with a bit more consistency/luck with injuries, the winger could light up the Premier League this season.
3. Experienced Manager at the Helm
Steve Bruce faced a tough task when he succeeded the popular Rafael Benitez in the Newcastle dugout, but he successfully consolidated the club’s position in the top flight, collecting more points and finishing higher up the table than Rafa did during his final campaign.
The 60-year-old is a boyhood Newcastle supporter and knows exactly what is expected of the club, while his managerial career stretches across 23 years and 10 different clubs.
Bruce has become a specialist in both getting teams promoted and keeping them up, while only five managers have taken charge of more Premier League games than the former Manchester United defender (471).
4. Continuity Should Not be Underestimated
Newcastle were one of the quietest teams in the transfer market during the summer, with their only permanent addition being the arrival of Joe Willock from Arsenal, who had already enjoyed a successful loan spell at the club last season.
Teenage forward Santiago Munoz also joined on loan on deadline day, although it seems unlikely he will immediately figure in the first team, while Bruce did not let any players leave that regularly featured in his starting XI last season.
This means the Newcastle squad should know each other inside out, and while other teams are scrambling around trying to find their best line-ups and formations, the Magpies should be settled and able to hit the ground running better than most after the international break.
5. Supporters Can Make St James’ Park a Fortress
St James’ Park is the eighth biggest ground in England, with a capacity of 52,354, and the Newcastle supporters still have a reputation for creating a fantastic atmosphere than can intimidate the very top teams in the country when they come to visit.
That support can very much act as Newcastle’s 12th man and could make the difference when it comes to turning tight games in the home team’s favour.
Having supporters back in the ground this season could benefit Newcastle more than most, particularly if Bruce’s side can get on a good run of form, as a full house cheering at St James’ is capable of inspiring the very best from their team.
Newcastle are 8 to 1 to finish in the top 10 this season.
*All odds correct at time of writing.