Having finished 16th last season on 41 points, you could forgive Newcastle fans to expect big improvements heading into the new season but the pointers coming from the bookies suggest that the club will struggle to get into the top half.
Ladbrokes are among the bookies that have Newcastle down as odds on to finish in the bottom half of the table, suggesting the club has several big problems to turn around before the start of the season.
One of the issues that the bookies seem to have latched onto is, needless to say, the return of Joe Kinnear as Director of Football, which seems to have created a feeling of unease around the club.
One of the ways Newcastle could improve those odds of getting into the top half of the table is by making some quality signings that have the potential to make Alan Pardew’s life a little easier and advance the team in their specific areas.
However, the fact that Kinnear effectively has control over the names he presents to Mike Ashley means that Pardew may struggle to get his first choice signings this summer and it could be one of the reasons the club has so far been very quiet in the transfer market.
All you have to do is contrast that with several other clubs expected to be in the fight for the top half of the table to realise that those clubs are in much better positions than Newcastle.
Southampton, Norwich City and Swansea City have all made very positive signings so far this summer, especially the Swans with the £12 million capture of Wilfried Bony, a striker Newcastle were linked with last month.
Even Newcastle’s local rivals Sunderland have worked quickly for Paolo Di Canio, spending big cash on Jozy Altidore and David Moberg Karlsson, not to mention several free transfer deals.
The issue isn’t being beaten to key players by rival clubs, the issue is letting valuable time pass as the pool of high quality available players gets whittled away becoming smaller and smaller.
Newcastle lost 19 games home and away last season, which is a figure that simply has to improve if the club is not only going to consolidate in mid-table but just to fend off the threat of the drop.
It sounds a bit cliché when it comes to the world of sports gambling but the bookies are always a very good indication of what is likely to happen.
Where do you think Newcastle will finish? Where does the squad need to improve?
image: © mickyb59