How does this Newcastle squad compare to the 2009/10 Championship side?

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez during the press conference

Are Newcastle United in a better position going into this Championship campaign than they were seven years ago before their title winning season?

Newcastle United begin life in the Championship on Friday night, heading to Craven Cottage to take on Fulham in this year's curtain-raiser.

Just like the summer of 2009, Newcastle have seen many players exit St James' Park, and will hope that the similarities do not end there, with the Magpies dominating during their last season in the Championship; finishing first and collecting 102 points.

One thing that Newcastle did have back in 2009 was a core of players who were able to drag the club from its knees and back into the Premier League. Players such as Kevin Nolan, Joey Barton, Alan Smith and Andy Carroll were pivotal in helping Newcastle gain promotion. This time around, it is yet to be seen whether or not they have a core of players with the right mentality to guide Newcastle out of the second tier of English football. 

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez and Jamaal Lascelles during trainingDespite only being 22, Lascelles has emerged as the favourite to become Newcastle's new captain

The potential is certainly there though, with players like Jamaal Lascelles and Jonjo Shelvey stepping up as leaders late last season when others appeared to shy away.

Newcastle's 2009/10 squad was more fit for purpose than Rafael Benitez's side currently is, but with the Spaniard at the helm the fans are supporting the club in a way that is a far cry from the scenes in 2009 when the club was relegated after a shambolic season on and off the pitch. Benitez has brought the fans and the club back together again at a time when the fans owe nothing yet still give 100% when supporting those that don black and white.

Newcastle fans behind manager Rafael BenitezBenitez has got fans believing again despite a horror-season last campaign

In 2009, Chris Hughton led the promotion charge despite it being his first ever job in management, stepping up from his assistant roles. In 2016, Newcastle will be fronted by a world class manager whose last job was at one of the biggest clubs in world football. From a management standpoint, Newcastle are much more equipped than they were seven years ago.

Ever since Loic Remy's loan ended at Newcastle, the club has been in desperate need of a goalscorer and that was one of the reasons they failed to avoid the drop last season. If they are going to match their previous Championship campaign, they will need goals to come from all over the pitch.

In 2009/10, they had four players who scored 10 or more, with Nolan and Carroll hitting 17 each as they finished 11 points ahead of second-placed West Brom. This year, they will need an improved return from Ayoze Perez and Aleksandar Mitrovic, as well as goals from new signing Dwight Gayle, who arrived from Crystal Palace. During pre-season, Newcastle have had 13 different goalscorers.

Aleksandar Mitrovic celebrates scoring the second goal for NewcastleMitrovic scored nine last season, and will miss the first four games through suspension

Although Newcastle do not appear to have a core similar to the one they had during their last stint in the Championship, they have a crop of talented youngsters who will be led by one of the best managers in Europe. Following a fruitful pre-season, Newcastle are ready for the season ahead and are rightfully considered as the bookies' favourites for promotion.

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