Sky Sports Say Toon Face Relegation Battle

Last updated : 11 August 2017 By Footy Mad - Editor

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Newcastle United

Manager: Rafael Benitez

Last season: Sky Bet Championship champions (94 points)

Major ins: Christian Atsu (Chelsea, undisclosed), Florian Lejeune (Eibar, undisclosed), Javier Manquillo (Atletico Madrid, undisclosed), Jacob Murphy (Norwich, undisclosed), Mikel Merino (Borussia Dortmund, loan)

Major outs: Sammy Ameobi (released), Vernon Anita (released), Adam Armstrong (Bolton Wanderers, loan), Alex Gilliead (Bradford City, loan), Yoan Gouffran (Goztepe SK, free), Tom Heardman (Bury, loan), Sean Longstaff (Blackpool, loan), Kevin Mbabu (BSC Young Boys, undisclosed), Daryl Murphy (Nottingham Forest, undisclosed), Matz Sels (Anderlecht, loan), Florian Thauvin (Marseille, undisclosed), Ivan Toney (Wigan Athletic, loan), Haris Vuckic (released)

Nick Hext's verdict:

Newcastle are back in the Premier League and the bookies joined the celebrations by putting Rafael Benitez at the head of the ‘sack race’ betting.

It’s unlikely that Benitez will actually be sacked, much more likely he’ll walk, and the rest of the transfer window will be key for the Spaniard’s contentment at St James’ Park after his frustration in trying to strengthen the squad back in January.

There has been a bit of transfer activity from the Magpies to boost a squad that badly needed extra depth added.

Norwich forward Jacob Murphy has made the most headlines but Eibar defender Florian Lejeune looks the pick of the signings after impressing during his time in LaLiga.

More is needed but there is the nucleus of a side that can remain in the top-flight with Jamaal Lascelles, Jonjo Shelvey, Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle all more than capable of stepping up.

Benitez though is the key man if Newcastle are to avoid an immediate return to the Sky Bet Championship.

The former Liverpool boss was a calming presence throughout last term’s title-winning campaign and if, and it is only if, he departs it is sure to be a tough task to remain in the Premier League.

The 7/2 for Benitez to go first is too short for me. Unlike other contenders in that market, it will have to be the Spaniard’s decision to move on and the likes of Mark Hughes and Slaven Bilic start the campaign already under plenty of pressure.

I expect Newcastle to just about keep their heads above water but a challenge to end up in the top half looks some way off.

That makes the 4/7 for Bournemouth to finish above the Magpies well worth an interest. It is an odds-on shot but Ben Coley makes a convincing case elsewhere in this preview for the Cherries to impress again and I fully agree.

Bournemouth are a settled Premier League outfit with stability on and off the field. That remains a target at least a couple of seasons away for Newcastle.