Rival's Season Outlook: Newcastle
With just under a week to go before the start of the season, we ask our Championship rivals some questions about their hopes for the campaign. First up - Newcastle United...
1. Your name and club supported?
Ross Molyneux, Newcastle
2. Your league position last season?
8th in the Premier League and a last day relegation.
3. Your prediction for this season's position finish?
To quote the great Johnny McEnroe - You can't be serious! Given the upheaval so far we don't even know whether SJP will be playing host to football or being renovated to become a Sports Direct megastore. Anywhere between 1st and 24th.
4. Transfers in?
None, nil, zilch, nada, zero, nothing. Bit embarrasing really.
5. Transfer out?
Owen, Viduka, Cacapa and David Edgar have all gone, leading us to pay nearly £500k in July to them as they hadn't found clubs and the mercenaries had a footballing JSA clause tied into their contracts despite taking the best part of £55m out of SJP in fees and wages in their NUFC careers. However Martins has debunked to Deutschland with Wolfsburg for £9m and it looks like Beye has whacked in a transfer request and is off to 'Ull for a couple of million, Bassong to Spurs for £8m etc. Expect a whole lot more before the 31st however.
6. Have you made enough signings for the new season? Are they the right signings?
No. On a personal level I'd have binned off all bar Steven Taylor, Guthrie and the youngsters in the reserves. However their bloated £50k a week+ contracts haven't exactly proved easy to shift onto other clubs. One by one though we'll keep rebuilding.
7. What are the expectations amongst the fans for this year?
The lowest they've ever been, including the spell under Ardiles where we looked destined for the then Division 3 (League 1 now). No signings, no leadership, no direction, no manager, no ability to sell the club, season tickets at their lowest for nearly 20 years. Hardly a box of laughs really. As I write this I've got Premiership Years on Sky in the background and, in true irony, it was the 95/96 season under Keegan. Every time you see clips from that or Sir Bobby's time, which has obviously been quite a lot in the last day, it's heartbreaking to see what's happened. Les Ferdinand is just lashing in a hattrick in a 6-1 trouncing of Wimbledon. Sob.
8. Key player(s)?
Again it seems naive to pick out a player when they've all got their price. If we can keep Steven Taylor he probably looks the most important. However Spurs / West Ham might have some say in that. Look out for Nile Ranger, Haris Vuckic and Shane Ferguson to come out the 'Yoofs' and make some impact.
9. Your thoughts ahead of the new Championship campaign, are you confident or worried going into the new season? How do you think your year will pan out?
I live in perennial hope that we can shed the incompetent lard-arsed oaf within the next two weeks, get a manager in and do some serious wheeling and dealing prior to the deadline. However it's taken two and a half months to get to a point where we'll sell a player so I don't hold much hope. Given we got nobbled 6-1 v Leyton Orient and couldn't score past Leeds and now have a front two of Andy Carroll and Shola Ameobi I can see a season of real struggle. Add that to the fact we've got a very tricky start against established Championship clubs and I think the headline writers will continue gorging themselves on 'Comedy Club' titles for the foreseeable.
10. Predict the Top 2 and Play-off winner and the 3 clubs to go down
West Brom are ideal for this level, especially with Di Matteo, and I see them and Boro, with their brilliant youth set up, pipping Sheffield United to the top two spots. The Blunts will go up through the play-offs though.
Relegated? Scunny, Donny and Blackpool.