Writer: Ken Waugh
Date:Friday August 13 2010
We expect to see St James` Park packed to the rafters for every home game.
We even expect Alan Shearer to be linked with a return to Newcastle, to play, manage or be canonised by the Church of Brown Ale. What we don`t expect is Newcastle to do much more than survive in the Premier League after their immediate return.
Chris Hughton isn`t a glamorous, world reknowned manager, his squad isn`t packed with high-paid international stars and his boss isn`t about to hand him the funds to change that...Hadaway, it`s not as bad as all that, like,` you might say, if you have a Geordie accent. Maybe not but lower expectations could work in Newcastle`s favour this season.
Spoiled by the success of the Keegan years, a season in the Championship has helped to add a little realism into the equation.
Newcastle no longer has a team capable of challenging for major honours but just because they`ve come up from the Championship doesn`t necessarily mean they`re going to be battling against relegation either.
With Joey Barton in the squad there`ll always be some battling going on but hopefully he can channel his ire against the opposition. He is only 5/1 to have a fist fight with a team-mate during the season and as much as we like to believe people can reform, would anyone be surprised if that one paid out?
Sol Campbell may be a big signing but that has more to do with the size of his gut than his current profile within the game. Still though, with Steven Taylor out for the first few months of the season, once he gets himself in shape, Campbell`s experience could help to keep the club safe. Free signing Dan Gosling is a very promising player and once he`s fit, he could become a regular in the black and white.
Looking through the rest of the squad, Hughton has plenty of experienced, proven Premier League performers and if they can build on last season then not just will they avoid relegation at 1/5 but they could in line for a top ten finish at 7/2. A finishing position from 7-9 pays out a very healthy 11/2.
In which case, the 11/8 on the Magpies to finish higher than Sunderland will look a very good bet.
Regardless of the players on the pitch, the fanatical supporters in the stands will ensure we`ll get to see at least a few big performances at home, which is why Newcastle are 4/7 to beat one of the traditional Big 4 at St James` this season.
In fact, don`t discount their chances of causing an opening day upset at Old Trafford. At 12/1 to win, it`s definitely worth a small punt.
Keep Sol off the pies, keep Barton out of prison and keep the expectations of the fans within the realms of possibility and Newcastle should maintain their Premier League status with relative ease.
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Date:Friday August 13 2010
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