Guardian writers’ predicted position: 7th (NB: this is not necessarily Louise Taylor’s prediction but the average of our writers’ tips)
Last season’s position: 11th
Odds to win the league (via Oddschecker): 100-1
Pretty good. Under Eddie Howe’s intelligent management Newcastle were a team transformed during the second half of last season and there is no reason why they should not continue on that upward trajectory.
Although, on paper, last year’s Saudi Arabian-led takeover has turned them into the world’s wealthiest club, the owners are determined to spend wisely and remain acutely conscious of the need to remain within financial fair play rules. In other words, Howe’s reconstruction work is expected to be much more a case of evolution than revolution.
While on-field signings appear suitably sensible, the installation of the former FA and Brighton technical director Dan Ashworth as director of football and Darren Eales as chief executive look shrewd. Eales, a Cambridge law graduate with past experience at West Brom and Tottenham, joins from MLS club Atlanta where he was much admired. Their appointments will allow co-owner and director Amanda Staveley, who ran the club magnificently last season, more time to concentrate on wider projects.
So far Howe seems to have bought well this summer, with the widely coveted and, crucially, left-footed central defender Sven Botman arriving from Lille, the England goalkeeper Nick Pope signing from Burnley and Matt Targett, so quietly impressive at left-back last season, making his move from Aston Villa permanent. Howe remains in the market for another striker and a new midfielder but already possesses plenty of talent and an outstanding leader in right-back Kieran Trippier.
Hopes are high that Brazil’s Bruno Guimarães, a January buy from Lyon, will continue to shine in midfield but his manager will need to determine whether Botman should be partnered by Dan Burn, Fabian Schär or Jamaal Lascelles. Howe also needs to coax the gifted, but sometimes frustrating, Allan Saint-Maximin into increased consistency, while hoping his injury prone centre-forward Callum Wilson stays fit and Joe Willock starts fulfilling his potential.