Newcastle United kick off the new Premier League 2022/23 season home to Nottingham Forest at St James' Park hoping to pick up where they left off last season ending the season on a 2-0 high note at home with a win against Arsenal and a win on the last day of the season to condemn Burnley to the drop after completing the greatest escape in Premier League history after not winning a game for the first 14 matches.
Since then, the Saudi-backed club have splashed the cash and backed Eddie Howe to the tune of £110M pound with the triple defensive recruitment of goalkeeper Nick Pope from Turf Moor for £10M, Matt Target from Aston Villa for £12M and the marquis defensive capture of Dutch international centre back Sven Botman from Lille for £38M.
So Newcastle head into the new season with a completely new back five - the likeliest defence is Nick Pope, Kieran Trippier, Fabian Schar, Sven Botman and Matt Targett to the one that started the 2021/22 season a year under ago when Steve Bruce was at the helm and the Saudi Takeover was resembling a tale from The Neverending Story.
Its the commanding 6ft 5in defensive presence of Dutchman Botman that has Newcastle fans most excited and its easy to see why he is tipped to follow in the Holland international footsteps of compatriot Virgil Van Dyk in the Premier League:
This defensive stability and strength will help Eddie Howe and Newcastle regain the Fortress St James' tag that previous managers like Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson earned the famous stadium and made it one of the most intimidating grounds in The Premier League to visit and for away teams to get a result at:
Indeed, in the second half of last season, Newcastle's form was remarkable with The Magpies being the third best team in The Premier League behind Liverpool & Man City:
Newcastle may have finished even higher had they not had their wings cruelly clipped by disgraceful refereeing at Stamford Bridge when Kai Havertz should have been sent off for a bloodying elbow on Dan Burn and The Magpies should have had a stonewall penalty when Trevor Chalobah fouled Jacob Murphy, decisions that the entire Soccer Saturday Panel couldn't believe weren't given and ended Newcastle's 9-match unbeaten run and surge up the table and potentially even a late charge for Europe.
Newcastle fans are used to being on the receiving end of shocking Premier League decisions and its certainly an area that the club's new legal eagle and lifelong Newcastle fan John Devine of Newcastle law firm Muckle will be looking into:
Its clear that the powers-that-be are all too aware that a new power is amassing in the North.The Big Six have unsurprisingly all flexed their muscles in the transfer market and significantly strengthened their own hands this season with Man City acquiring Erling Haaland, Liverpool buying Darwin Nunez, Arsenal signing Gabriel Jesus, Spurs adding Richarlison to their ranks, Chelsea Raheem Sterling and Man United are looking to buy Benjamn Sesko in power moves that show Newcastle will be up against it to crash the top 6 not to mention overhaul the 7-10th team West Ham, Leicester, Wolves & Brighton.
Newcastle's pursuit of attacking playmaker James Maddison was perhaps launched after an injury picked up in pre-season by JonJo Shelvey, which means Eddie Howe will likely field the same midfield trio - Joelinton, Bruno Guimaraes and Sean Longstaff that played Arsenal off St James' Park and will be looking to do the same against Forest.
In pre-season, it is Newcastle's Paraguayan international Miguel Almiron, who has really stepped his game up scoring five times including a brace against Benfica as a player who was recently his country's Captain has rediscovered the fearless dribbling and attacking that made him a fantastic £20M signing from MLS side Atalanta, whose CEO Darren Eales has also joined The Magpies in a raft of key off-the-field appointments.
Callum Wilson will lead the line against Forest at St James' Park after returning to Newcastle and scoring a goal at his first home pre-season game of the season against and there's no doubting if he stays fit for 30+ games, he could score twenty goals yet there is the rub, he missed half a season last year and 12 games the previous season for Newcastle and has sadly suffered from serious injury several times in his career.
Newcastle must sign a striker who can score goals like him and after missing out on Hugo Ekitike, Newcastle are also being linked with Sesko and Director of Football Dan Ashworth was reported to have said "Next week is a big one" on TalkSport indicating further signings are in the pipeline after Newcastle took out an advance of their Premier League TV rights money - £130M - last week so watch this space on the transfer front.
In an interview on the club's official channels, Eddie Howe spoke of the need for attacking reinforcements especially in light of the new 5 substitutes allowance in Premier League games meaning more tactical switches & options can be used so having a greater pool of players to draw on is essential to compete & 'do the club proud':
Season Prediction - 8th on current signings; 4th if a fast striker & winger are signed.
Today's Opponents - Nottingham Forest
After 23 years in The Championship wilderness, one of The Premier League's inaugural members is back in the big time & have a few aces up their sleeve to spring a surprise having spent nearly £100M on eleven new signings to try and beat the dreaded drop.
The chief weapon in the Forest arsenal is extremely highly-rated coach Steve Cooper who masterminded a football miracle to get the club promoted via the play-offs after taking charge of a side previously managed by former Newcastle boss Chris Hughton that was bottom of The Championship with six defeats from its opening seven games.
Cooper left Swansea to take the Forest job and transformed The Midlands club almost instantly not just in The Championships but also in Cup competitions with a 4-1 thrashing of FA Cup holders Leicester City signalling their quality before they were knocked out by eventual winners Liverpool in the next round which bodes well for them.
Somewhat controversial owner Evangelos Marinakis is "excited" about the tantalising prospect of being in charge of a club in the prestigious Premier League and is going above and beyond with transfer fees and wages to back manager Steve Cooper best demonstrated by the capture of England international Jessie Lingard from Man United.
If 29 year-old Lingard can hit the heights of form he showed at West Ham on loan in the second half of the 2020/21 season when he scored 9 goals and set up six in 16 games at The City Ground then it will be money very well spent as a completely transformed Forest team from that which won promotion looks to hit the ground running and survive.
Other notable buys include Welsh right back Neco Williams from Liverpool for £20M, goalkeeper Dean Henderson on loan from Man United, Belgian international central midfielder Orel Mangala from VFB Stuttgart and Nigerian striker Taiwo Awoniyi, a £20M signing from Union Berlin who plundered 20 goals in 43 games for The Bundesliga team and a lot will depend on him continuing his scoring form in the English top flight.
Newcastle old boy Geordie Jack Colback, who played for The Magpies from 2014-2020 after signing from local rivals Sunderland would no doubt love to show his former club that he can still do it at the highest level but barring a miracle Papiss Cisse-style goal like this one against Steve Bruce's West Bromwich Albion, he'll leave St James a loser:
Forest boss Steve Cooper has indicated the spending is not over and exactly why the club had to make so many changes: (Via SportsMail)
'I think there will be more ins and outs. We had no alternative other than to make the amount of changes we have made and are continuing to make.
'In an ideal world we would have liked to carry on with a large part of the team from last season and added in the areas we thought we needed.
'We had five players on loan last season and players out of contract this summer. Even if we were still in the Championship we would have made the same number of changes.'
And the confident Welsh Manager was adamant that Forest would be embracing not fearing the challenge of visiting St James' Park and playing Newcastle:
Eddie Howe in his first presser of the new season spoke of the natural excitement of a new season but for his players to be calm and focussed ahead of the new campaign:
New star defender Sven Botman was on the receiving end of praise from his new manager who declared him 'ready to play' against Notts Forest:
Newcastle fans are buzzing about the return of the new season and looking forward to seeing Botman and co in competitive action in what promises to be a lively return to the cut and thrust of The Premier League as the 2022/23 season begins in earnest. HWTL.
Match Prediction - Newcastle 2 Nottingham Forest 1