Newcastle United: Mid-season report and predictions

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 30: The Newcastle players gather prior to the Premier League match between Burnley and Newcastle United at Turf Moor on October 30, 2017 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
BURNLEY, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 30: The Newcastle players gather prior to the Premier League match between Burnley and Newcastle United at Turf Moor on October 30, 2017 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images) /

19 matches down, 19 more to go as the Magpies aim to learn from the adversity of the first half of the season to avoid relegation.

The first half of the season was a major learning experience for Newcastle United and manager Rafa Benitez. After an impressive start to the season with a record of 4-2-3 and 14 points after nine matches, the Magpies experienced a cold and difficult winter as they lost eight of their next ten.

Currently in 15th place with 18 points, Newcastle United find themselves in a relegation battle with several bottom-half clubs as the difference between 12th and 18th in the table is a mere five points. Every bottom-half club will experience ups and downs over the next 19 matches, however, it is important for the Magpies to control their own destiny and not depend on the negative results of other clubs to stay in the top flight.

With the second half of the season beginning against Manchester City on December 27th at St. James’ Park, the editorial staff here at Newcastle Toons provide their analyses on the first 19 matches and make their end-of-season predictions.

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Roy Emanuel:

All involved with Newcastle United are thrilled to be back in the Premier League, and the season certainly brought positive results following initial stumbles. The summer transfer period didn’t secure the type of reinforcements that fans would have hoped for, but the team boasted a solid core.

Unfortunately, the quality in the attack is dreadfully inconsistent. I had unrealistically high hopes for Joselu (too much faith in his Real Madrid B scoring record), and Aleksandar Mitrovic’s time on Tyneside appears to be over. Injuries have taken a major toll on the back-line, and Jonjo Shelvey can’t seem to stay on the pitch.

Manager Rafa Benitez gets the most out of his players, and it is promising to see the squad put in so much effort. However, it just might not be enough. I am hoping for the best, but expecting the worst.

Looking at the table, the clubs near United like AFC Bournemouth and Stoke City have enough in their line-ups to stay out of the relegation zone. I hope I’m wrong, but without the potential new ownership group producing impact signings in January, Newcastle are on a path that returns to the Championship.

Predicted Table Finish: 18th – 38 points

Carson A. Merk:

While I entered the season with hopeful optimism, I can’t say I’m wildly surprised by where Newcastle United sit currently. For me, a lot of the issues boil down to one thing: confidence. Despite scoring first against some of the Premier League giants, Newcastle crumbled after those sides equalized and got buried. Along with simply poor finishing ability, Joselu doesn’t look confident up top and it kills the attack to have your first-choice striker posing no danger to the opponent. With Jonjo Shelvey, the supposed star of the team, it’s confidence and self-control that are limiting his impact. He hasn’t taken over matches, and has now been sent off and banned twice.

In the second half of the season, despite their place in the table, Newcastle need to play with pride. While they may be a side with relegation-level talent, they must enter matches expecting to compete and win. I’m happy with the additions of Mikel Merino, Jacob Murphy, and Christian Atsu. On the other side, I have little faith in the aforementioned Joselu. Rafa will need to make some moves next month to keep Newcastle afloat in the Premier League, especially a new striker.

Predicted Table Finish: 16th – 45 points

Durim Halimi:

When the Magpies were crowned champions of the EFL Championship last term, my hope was that the 1993-94 season would repeat itself this year, but my head was telling me to prepare for a relegation battle. Thus far in the season, Newcastle United have shown that they have the ability to defeat other bottom-half clubs, but do not come close to the quality of superior sides in the top eight. Hopefully, the disparity in quality decreases with the arrival of new transfers in January.

Regardless of what happens in the January transfer window, the Magpies must play with more composure, conviction and have more possession of the ball if they want to earn points. With the schedule presenting some lenient match-ups over the next several weeks, Newcastle United have a chance to avoid relegation.

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If the Magpies aim to finish ahead of Bournemouth, Stoke City, West Ham and Brighton to comfortably secure their survival, the lads in stripes must find a way to steal some points from difficult matches as well.

Predicted Table Finish: 16th – 42 points