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Newcastle United Must Challenge for the Top Four Next Season

ByDave Stopher

Apr 22, 2024

Newcastle United’s 2023/24 season has been pretty underwhelming given what the club achieved during the previous campaign.

Reaching the League Cup final and qualifying for the Champions League were expected to be the springboard for success, but the Magpies have failed to deliver.

With the club now facing a crucial summer, we assess some of the key issues which need to be addressed, starting with the manager.

Is Eddie Howe the Right Man to Lead Newcastle?

Summing up Newcastle’s season is full of complexity and contradictions.

Their Champions League adventure had memorable moments such the 4-1 rout against Paris Saint-Germain, but they ultimately failed to make it past the group stage.

The League Cup was undoubtedly an exciting chapter, featuring unforgettable triumphs over Manchester City and Manchester United.

They came close to inflicting the same fate on Chelsea, but Kieran Trippier’s late error was their undoing as they crashed out on penalties.

The Magpies also failed to replicate their League Cup victory over City in the FA Cup, crashing out in the quarter-final at the Etihad Stadium.

Newcastle’s Premier League season has also been enigma. Defeats against Luton Town, Nottingham Forest, Bournemouth and Everton sit alongside stunning victories over Arsenal, United, and Chelsea.

This inconsistency sums up their struggle to recapture the rhythm and consistency that propelled them into the top four last season.

However, there are mitigating factors. Howe and his coaching staff have endured a season-long battle with injuries that have often limited his options.

That is not to say Howe is without criticism as some of his decisions have led many people to question whether he can guide the club to major silverware.

Howe undoubtedly has some credit in the bank and it would be harsh to sack him this summer, but the pressure is on him to prove he is the right man for the job.

There may come a time when the Newcastle hierarchy will need to show a ruthless side in the pursuit of success – the clock is ticking for Howe.

Who Could Newcastle Target This Summer?

Newcastle must bolster key areas of the squad this summer if they are to reclaim a spot in the Champions League next season.

Defensive reinforcements should be at the top of Newcastle’s list, and Fulham’s Tosin Adarabioyo is a tempting option. The Englishman will be a free agent when his contract runs out this summer, and Newcastle must be proactive in the race for his signature.

Howe also needs more attacking options, particularly on the right flank, and Real Sociedad’s Takefusa Kubo would be a statement signing.

The Japanese winger is enjoying a strong season and would add dynamism and flair to the frontline, bolstering Newcastle’s attacking threat in the final third.

Newcastle could also bolster their ranks by making a play for Sammie Szmodics. The Republic of Ireland international has been unstoppable for Blackburn Rovers and leads the Championship scoring charts with 24 goals.

Szmodics’ arrival would also boost Newcastle’s sizeable fanbase in Ireland and probably create a betting frenzy on the Emerald Isle. Keen to see one of their own succeed in the Premier League, the transfer would spark increased betting activity among Irish punters looking to capitalise on free bets sites in Ireland.

Szmodics’ performances this season has made him a coveted target, and his eye for goal would add a much-needed cutting edge to Newcastle’s attack and boost their odds of success. While the 28-year-old falls into the ‘late developer’ category, his work rate would be a useful asset to the club.

What’s in Store for Newcastle Next Season?

With several of the top Premier League in a state of transition, Newcastle have a golden opportunity to make a play for the top four next term.

If the owners back Howe with shrewd summer signings that address key weaknesses, a repeat of their impressive 2022/23 campaign is a distinct possibility.

They could also potentially end their trophy drought by claiming domestic silverware, but that hinges on making the right decisions in the transfer market.

Filling the gaps in the squad with smart signings that complement Howe’s vision will be crucial in a potential top-four challenge next season.

However, the suspicion remains that Howe may ultimately fall short in his quest to guide Newcastle to honours and a managerial change may be needed sooner rather than later.

Jose Mourinho would be an intriguing option and his recent meeting with Newcastle chairman Yasir al-Rumayyan will have had Howe looking nervously over his shoulder.