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Skys Newcastle Season Preview

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Expectation is often high on Tyneside ahead of a new season, but with Michael Owen injured and Alan Shearer having retired, the sights may well be lowered a shade.

 

Glenn Roeder transformed the club's fortunes in the second half of last season, having replaced Graeme Souness in January, so much so that they were able to claim a spot in the Intertoto Cup.

 

A summer of European football has enabled Roeder to asses his options and he is all too aware that he needs to strengthen in attack.

 

With Shola Ameobi and Albert Luque the only recognised striking options, Roeder is striving to bring in some added quality and if The Magpies are to prosper he will have to be successful.

 

Ameobi and Luque have plenty to prove, but they could get the chance to shine in the early weeks of the season but even starring performances are unlikely to deter Roeder from raiding the market.

 

The midfield looks an area of strength for Newcastle, with the arrival of Damien Duff from Chelsea beefing up an already impressive line-up.

 

Scott Parker was a key performer last term before being struck down by glandular fever and how he handles the after-effects of that virus could be key to the club's fortunes.

 

Turkish star Emre has shrugged off speculation over his future to perform well in pre-season and with Nicky Butt looking sharp on his return from a loan spell at Birmingham, The Magpies look well stocked in the engine room - even with Kieron Dyer still struggling for fitness.

 

Duff is sure to dazzle on the left flank, but Roeder also has rising French star Charles N'Zogbia and Nolberto Solano at his disposal and it could be a fruitful source for The Magpies, if only they can sign a striker to aim for.

 

Defending has so often been an Achilles heel for Newcastle and some slapstick efforts have already been on show during pre-season.

 

The pressing need for a striker or two has perhaps forced Roeder to take his eye off his defence, but it is clear he needs to find a commanding figure at the heart of his back four.

 

Titus Bramble has, ever since his arrival from Ipswich in 2002, been billed as the man to fill that role and if he could only concentrate for a full 90 minutes he has the quality to take on that position.

 

Craig Moore and Steven Taylor are also pushing for a place in the back four, while Jean-Alain Boumsong seems to be out of favour, but they will all need to be on their mettle if Newcastle are to mount any sort of challenge in the new campaign.

 

Newcastle and their ardent supporters believe they should be challenging for the title every season but, unless a new top class forward is brought in before the transfer window slams shut at the end of the month, it is unlikely the club will have enough firepower to trouble the big players in The Premiership, and could result in this being a campaign of consolidation on Tyneside.

 

 

 

Predicted Position: 6th :(

 

Star Man: Shay Given.

 

Damien Duff is sure to set pulses racing, but keeper Given has repeatedly proved his class and will be a key figure again.

 

One to Watch: Charles N'Zogbia.

 

The Frenchman was a breath of fresh air on occasions last term and Magpies fans will hope he can find the same form.

 

Manager: Glenn Roeder.

 

Roeder worked wonders to guide Newcastle away from relegation trouble and his efforts won him the job. Some were surprised Newcastle opted against a big-name recruit and Roeder will be under pressure to produce the goods.

 

INS: Damien Duff (Chelsea)

 

OUTS: Amdy Faye (Charlton), Robbie Elliott (Released), Daryl Smylie (Livingston), Michael Chopra (Cardiff), Lee Bowyer (West Ham), Alan Shearer (Retired) Martin Brittain (Released), Tony Caig (Released)

Best signing: Damien Duff

 

Sky Bet Odds: 150/1

 

Likely top scorer: Ameobi

 

Possible best XI: Given, Carr, Bramble, Moore, Babayaro, Solano, Parker, Emre, Duff, Ameobi, Luque

 

Live Sky dates: Everton (24.09), Bolton (15.10) Charlton (28.10-PP), Sheffield United (04.11-PP)

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Titus Bramble has, ever since his arrival from Ipswich in 2002, been billed as the man to fill that role and if he could only concentrate for a full 90 minutes he has the quality to take on that position.

 

Does anyone believe tightarse has ever achieved that in his life, never mind in football? :(

 

I bet he still doesn't know who's who in Fight Club. :(

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