St James’ Park is to be without the attraction of Premier League football once the new season gets underway, though many are already tipping Newcastle to regain promotion to the top flight in grand style by winning the Championship at the end of the campaign.
Current odds are stacked in Newcastle’s favour, and rightly so if history is anything to go by. The Magpies managed a prompt return to the Premier League in the 2009/10 season when they were last in this position.
The Toon Army are also now blessed with the services of Rafael Benitez, who has been saddled with a new mission after failing to keep Newcastle up the last term. A Champions League winner in the Championship is a rare occurrence, and Benitez can be considered to be many classes above the other managers.
Despite all this, Newcastle’s march to become this year’s winners of England’s second division is anything but certain. The Championship is notoriously difficult to compete in, and many things could well lead to disappointment in the North East.
Here are some of them:
THE POSSIBILITY OF LOSING KEY PLAYERS
A lot of Newcastle’s high-profile players are unlikely to want to be plying their trade in the Championship. Last summer’s star signing, Georginio Wijnaldum has already left for Liverpool, Ayoze Perez is being linked with clubs as big as the mighty Barcelona, and midfielder the fall in the value of Cheick Tiote has been proven by a £1million bid recently being made for him. The futures of Tim Krul, Jonjo Shelvey, Daryl Janmaat and Alexander Mitrovic are also in doubt.
Though Summer and Winter arrivals are as certain as departures, Newcastle will find it tough to attract players of the same quality. With a weakened and new squad needing time to gel, there will be struggles.
BUILDING A WINNING TEAM TAKES TIME
Newcastle’s sudden high-class performances at the tail end of last season may have fooled some of us into believing everything has changed all of sudden under Rafa Benitez, but that’s far from the truth.
It takes a lot of time to turn a team used to being in the lower regions of the top flight to habitual winners, second division or not. Finishing 16th, 15th and 18th in the last three seasons says a lot about the position most of Newcastle’s squad are used to being in.
The required adapting of playing style and mentality will not happen overnight.
THE CHAMPIONSHIP IS TOUGH. REALLY TOUGH!!
The physicality of the Championship teams is always intense, but even more so when facing big sides like Newcastle. How will a fragile Perez handle Reading’s backline full of bodyguard type players?
Is it possible to maintain Benitez’s style of play over a course of 46 games? The best of Newcastle’s players are already departing when they are needed most, and that won’t help their newly-found situation.
THE NUMBER OF PROMOTION CONTENDERS
Leeds United, Blackburn, QPR, Fulham, Aston Villa, Norwich and every other side badly wants to earn promotion to the Premier League next term, and there are only two automatic promotion places.
Clubs like Reading and Leeds are already making massive plans to make that dream come true and aren’t prepared to sit back and allow Newcastle to take a stroll back to the top without a fight. Many of those set to compete with the Magpies next season, are far more familiar with the battle that is upcoming.