No new owner, scant new signings, a new manager with little trust of the fan-base. Such a tumultuous summer could only come at Newcastle United. Unfortunately, the long off-season could have huge bearings on the club’s future in 2019-20.
The summer started with Rafael Benítez, potentially armed with money of the Bin Zayed Group, looking onwards and upwards with Newcastle. Now, with Steve Bruce at the helm, the fan-base has never seemed so disenfranchised. What will 2019/20 bring for Newcastle United?
Newcastle United 2019/20 Season Preview
What’s New on Tyneside?
After a summer of turmoil regarding the club’s ownership, and then its management, it finally seems settled for the time being at least. A move fronted by the Bin Zayed Group to buy Newcastle fizzled out; another year of Mike Ashley’s unhappy marriage with the Toon Army approaches.
This summer saw the owner under possibly the biggest scrutiny of his tenure, after letting the beloved Rafael Benítez leave the club. Steve Bruce came in as his replacement, reportedly the club’s 11th choice for a new head coach. As expected, still angry over the loss of Benítez, Newcastle fans were up in arms over Bruce’s appointment.
Along with Benítez to China went Salomón Rondón, last season’s player-of-the-season. Spaniard Ayoze Pérez also departed, and the side’s void in terms of goals was now plain to see.
Newcastle had lost their top-scorer from the past two seasons, and 55% of their goals last year. Ashley has so far sanctioned a club-record £40 million move for Brazilian striker Joelinton from Hoffenheim. They have also completed the signings of youngsters Kyle Scott and Jake Turner.
Players To Look Out For
Longstaff, a Newcastle local, made his senior debut in December last season and impressed Rafa Benítez. He formed a formidable midfield partnership with Isaac Hayden and soon attracted the likes of Manchester United.
He brings a sense of calm and composure to the midfield, an all-rounded player. After coming back from injury, it will be interesting to see how the promising midfielder develops over the next 12 months.
The Brazilian who became Newcastle’s record signing for £40 million is the man Steve Bruce will rely on for goals. He is the definition of the ‘modern striker’, a strong target man who also has the ability to go past players with skill.
He remains an unknown quantity, though; his most prolific spell came in Austria. His goals could prove crucial in another relegation battle.
Newcastle’s former club-record signing could also be integral to their offensive qualities. The Paraguayan is lightning-fast and has the ability to beat defenders. An injury abruptly ended his season, but he has returned in preseason looking sharp.
Without any other new offensive recruits, Newcastle will rely on Almirón’s work rate and creativity in the final third. Hopefully, he is allowed creative freedom under Bruce.
How Will Bruce Fare In His Premier League Return
Bruce’s appointment at Newcastle will mark his first season managing in the Premier League since his Hull City days. Many pundits waxed lyrical about Benítez’s ability to make a ‘Championship squad’ perform in the Premier League. There are doubts about whether Bruce will perform such miracles. He is oft-criticised about his lack of a plan B in games, and that could define their season.
It is also worth pointing out that Newcastle have failed to rectify many of their squad’s necessities, namely in the final third. They have made a statement by splashing £40 million on a striker, but it is a big gamble to replace 23 goals from two proven Premier League goal-scorers with an unknown quantity.
Such gambles have not paid dividends in Newcastle’s past. Furthermore, the club have long needed some more quality in the full-back area, yet they are still yet to improve there.
If Bruce can maintain the defensive qualities that brought Benítez success, while improving Newcastle’s creativity, they should have enough to beat the drop. A few bad results, though, and things become very toxic at St. James’ Park, which never helps.
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