Rafa key for Magpies but will he lose patience with Mike Ashley? – Newcastle United 2018/19 Opposition Preview

8 August 2018

Predicting how Newcastle will fare in 2018/19 is a tough task, with so much depending on whether Rafa Benitez stays put amid turmoil at St James’ Park.


When we play them: December 26 (home); May 4 (away)

Last season: Won 2-0 (home); Drew 1-1 (away)


Like any newly promoted team, the Magpies were tipped by some to head straight back down to the Championship last season, but many ignored the fact that they possessed a genuinely top-class manager.

Benitez worked wonders at St James’ Park with a squad littered with Championship players, eventually guiding them to very respectable a 10th-place finish.

It was a great achievement considering the resources available and the continued issues that exist behind the scenes with owner Mike Ashley.

This summer has been another one of frustration, with Benitez at loggerheads with the board with regards to getting more transfer funds.

Newcastle have strengthened to an extent, though, with centre-back Fabian Schar a good signing from Deportivo de La Coruna and former Swansea City man Ki Sung-yueng an underrated player who will add guile in the middle of the park.

With other clubs around them investing more, however, it could be a struggle, and keeping hold of captain Jamaal Lascelles is vital.

Benitez is never one to stand for being mucked around and it has been speculated that he is considering his future – and you couldn’t blame him if he did walk.

If he goes early in the campaign, relegation will suddenly look far more likely. Should he stay, the former Liverpool manager should work his magic once again.

 

Newcastle United

Newcastle United's Jamaal Lascelles applauds the fans after the final whistle - Richard Sellers/EMPICS Sport

Players in: Martin Dubravka, Ki Sung-yueng, Fabian Schar, Yoshinori Muto, Mikel Merino, Federico Fernandez, Salomon Rondon (loan), Kenedy (loan)

Players out: Mikel Merino, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Chancel Mbemba, Matz Sels, Jesus Gamez, Massadio Haidara, Jack Colback (loan), Dwight Gayle (loan)

Best XI: Dubravka; Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett; Ritchie, Shelvey, Diame, Kenedy; Perez, Rondon


We spoke to Alex Hurst from Truth Faith fanzine (@tfNUFCfanzine) to hear his thoughts on the season ahead, both at St James’ Park and Anfield.

How optimistic or pessimistic are you for the new season?

At the time of writing, the club have made a profit on player trading which is depressing.

Lowly release clauses have been met and free transfers incoming. Last season’s momentum is being wasted by an owner who seems to despise his own football club.

What are your aims for the season?

Rafa, in his last season here, has been blunt and downgraded expectations to simply survive again. So that’s about it for us.

NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 28, 2014: Newcastle United's Ayoze Perez celebrates scoring the second goal against Everton during the Premier League match at St. James' Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Who’s your man to watch?

Ayoze Perez got 10 goals last season, with nearly all of them coming in 2018.

If he continues that form he will be a star for us this season.

* All rival supporter views taken before the end of the transfer window.

 

St James’ Park

NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND - Tuesday, March 25, 2014: A general view of St James' Park, home of Newcastle United, before the Premiership match against Everton. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Capacity: 52,354

Away fans’ pubs: The Trent House next to the ground.

One piece of advice for visiting fan: Stay as long as you can. Newcastle is a great night out with hundreds of bars.

 

Liverpool

DUBLIN, REPUBLIC OF IRELAND - Saturday, August 4, 2018: Liverpool's new signing goalkeeper Alisson Becker during the preseason friendly match between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC at Landsdowne Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

How do you rate Liverpool’s chances heading into the season?

I think Liverpool will be Man City’s main contenders for the title, as many are predicting.

Who’s going to be the Reds’ Player of the Year?

Alisson.


TIA’s Newcastle Predicted Finish: 14th (Average of the TIA writers’ predictions)

Where Alex says Newcastle will finish: 12th

Where Alex says Liverpool will finish: 2nd


This is part of our club-by-club opposition previews this summer, getting the views of away fans on their club and their thoughts on LFC:

Arsenal | Bournemouth | Brighton | Burnley | Cardiff | Chelsea | Crystal Palace | Everton | Fulham | Huddersfield | Leicester | Man City | Man United | Newcastle | Southampton | Tottenham | Watford | West Ham | Wolves

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