Newcastle United 2015/16 Season Preview
Are Newcastle United ready for the new season?
There’s been a lot of change at Newcastle since they narrowly fought off relegation on the final day of last season. “The best coach in the Premier League”, by his own admission, John Carver has gone, along with most of his back room staff, and been replaced with ex England coach Steve McClaren. Alongside him as Assistant Coach is Ian Cathro, former Valencia no. 2. Former Derby County first team coach Paul Simpson has also joined as a second assistant coach. Alessandro Schoenmaker, who worked under McClaren at FC Twente and Wolfsburg has been tasked with the job of keeping the treatment room as clear as possible, as the new fitness coach, and Chris Terpcou has been appointed Goalkeeper Coach. Is this an improvement on last seasons staffing at St. James’ Park? Let’s face it, anyone was going to be an improvement on John Carver, but the arrivals of Ian Cathro and Alessandro Schoenmaker, who has been spoke highly of by Twente fans, are promising additions to the club. In this respect, Newcastle are ready for the season ahead. Now onto the ins and outs at St. James’ Park.
Jonas Gutierrez, Ryan Taylor, Adam Campbell and Remi Streete were all released at the end of last season. The club’s conduct over Gutierrez’s contract was particularly frustrating. One of only a handful of players who were committed to the cause last season, Gutierrez fought and beat testicular cancer only to be told to find another club by then manager Alan Pardew in November 2013. Then Gutierrez fell out with then interim coach Carver over a heated exchange in training. A true Geordie, with all the passion, belief and determination the Geordie nation were crying out for, pushed out the door.
Sammy Ameobi has joined Cardiff, Adam Armstrong has joined Coventry and Freddie Woodman has joined Crawley, all on season-long loans.
Shane Ferguson has also joined Millwall on an initial 93 day emergency loan.
Firstly, Newcastle welcome defender Jamaal Lascelles and Goalkeeper Karl Darlow back from Nottingham Forest, where they spent last season on loan as part of the deals to sign them last Summer. Lascelles played 22 games scoring one goal. Darlow played the full season keeping 12 cleansheets. Georginio Wijnaldum was the first signing through the door. At 24, Wijnaldum is an attacking midfielder signed from PSV for £14.5m on a 5 year deal. Appearing 109 times for PSV, Wijnaldum scored 41 goals and led PSV to their first Dutch title since 2008 last season. He has made 19 appearances for the Dutch national team scoring 3 goals.
Next through the door was striker Aleksandar Mitrovic from Anderlecht. The 20 year old Serbian has been on fire in recent seasons scoring 44 goals in 90 appearances, winning the Belgian Pro League in his first season and finishing the leagues top goalscorer last season. Signed for £13m, Mitrovic will wear no. 45 because “it adds to 9” and he wants to gain the famous no.9 shirt and follow in the footsteps of his role model and Newcastle legend, Alan Shearer. Judging by his short career so far, Mitrovic has all the attributes and qualities needed for such a role.
Soon after Mitrovic’s arrival, former teammate Chancel Mbemba landed on Tyneside. It may have taken the best part of a week to sort out his visa application due to problems concerning his age, but Newcastle have finally signed a quality centre half. Granted, at 20, McClaren may not see Mbemba as first team starter straight away, but he nevertheless he has all the experience of a defender in his prime. Leading Anderlecht to 14 cleansheets last season, Mbemba made 76 appearances between 2012 and 2015 scoring 9 goals, including 3 in the Champions League. McClaren spoke highly of the young Congolese defender last month. “He is a proven performer at the highest level, he’s powerful, combative and will add quality to our defence. He also has an eye for goal which is an extra asset to us.”
Onto Newcastle’s 4th Summer signing, and hopefully not the last. 19 year old striker Ivan Toney from Northampton. Signed earlier this week for an undisclosed fee, Toney has risen through the Cobblers’ youth ranks and scored 13 goals in 60 senior games. Newcastle’s football development manager Peter Beardsley has said “We have been impressed with Ivan already. He is a very good player with great enthusiasm and a first class attitude and has all the attributes to have a bright future at the club. So, are Newcastle United ready for the new season?
Judging by our activity in the transfer market having brought in 6 players (2 arrive from deals last summer) 3 of which should be in or very close to the first team, the club’s philosophy has changed dramatically. It seems Newcastle have learned from past mistakes in the market and Mike Ashley is finally investing in the club and giving some much needed financial backing to his new coach. In my opinion, Newcastle could still do with 2 or 3 new faces, another experienced defender, a winger and a striker. Fabricio Coloccini has just signed a new deal until 2017, so it is unlikely another defender will arrive, however I can still definitely see space for a winger and a striker. Xherdan Shaqiri and Charlie Austin have both been heavily linked to St. James’ Park, but despite Newcastle being given the green light to sign both, they face competition from a host of clubs for either players’ services.
I don’t believe Newcastle are quite ready for the season ahead, so Toon fans will hope to see a few more new faces arriving on Tyneside before the transfer window slams shut. 2 or 3 first team signings could see NUFC challenging for top 10. As it is, here is my verdict on Newcastle United.
LAST SEASON: 15TH
PREDICTION THIS SEASON: 11TH
PLAYER TO WATCH: GEORGINIO WIJNALDUM
YOUNG PLAYER TO WATCH: AYOZE PEREZ
MY FIRST XI (4-2-3-1)
JANMAAT MBEMBA COLO HAIDARA
PEREZ WIJNALDUM DE JONG
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