Is Europe a step too far for Newcastle United?

HITC Sport runs the rule over Newcastle United's upcoming Premier League campaign. How will the Magpies do this term?

Reasons to be positive

For the first time in what seems like an eternity, Newcastle have enjoyed a productive transfer window. With most of August still to go, Alan Pardew has signed no less than seven players already, with more almost guaranteed to arrive on Tyneside.

That spells good news for the Magpies' squad depth and, therefore, their ability to last the course of the campaign. The likes of Remy Cabella, Emmanuel Riviere, Jack Colback and Siem de Jong are sure to excite fans and add new dimensions to Newcastle's game. Hopefully, then, there won't be the end-of-season slump that disgruntled so many at St James' Park last term.

Trouble on the horizon

Scoring goals, however, still remains a real issue for Pardew's side. Both of Newcastle's top scorers from last season are no longer at the club, while they have no clear first-choice striker just yet.

Ayoze Perez, Facundo Ferreyra, Riviere, Papiss Cisse and perhaps one more candidate will battle it out to be the Magpies' leading man but the simple truth is they cannot start every game.

As such, they will each have to step up individually to stake their claim to a place in the first team.

At the other end of the field, Pardew may have just as much to worry about: Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor have struggled at centre-back in pre-season.

Top scorer: It's a mystery...

With so many forwards vying to lead the line, it's impossible to say who Newcastle's top scorer will be. Cisse will need to improve immeasurably from last term if it is to be him, while Perez looks young with a lot to learn.

Riviere, then, could be a good shout. But, should the Magpies bring in Loic Remy or Alexandre Lacazette, it's anyone's guess - although that will significantly improve their potential goalscoring woes.

Will the manager last the season? Surprisingly, yes

Very few Premier League coaches have received as much criticism as 53-year-old Pardew and stayed in a job. But, unfortunately for his critics, that trend looks set to continue this campaign.

With Pardew being close to owner Mike Ashley, his sacking looks unlikely to come anytime soon. A relegation fight, however, could change that.

Verdict: Top-half finish

Things should not go that way with the squad Newcastle have assembled, though, especially in midfield. The Magpies, who finished 10th in the league last time around, should thus finish in the top half this season.

Just how high they can go depends on whether they can recruit one more striker - and a top-class one, at that - and whether they have the stamina and ambition not to tail off like last term.

A European finish could prove beyond them, though there is no excuse for anything below 10th.

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