Newcastle United have less than two weeks to bring new faces to the club as they face another gruelling battle to retain their Premier League status.
So far this summer The Magpies have only signed Joe Willock for £22 million from Arsenal, who returns after an impressive loan spell at the club last campaign.
The 21-year-old enjoyed an outstanding period between January and May, scoring eight goals in just 14 Premier League appearances to help Steve Bruce’s side to a 12th-placed finish last season.
During his initial stay on Tyneside, he also became the youngest player ever to score in seven consecutive Premier League matches – a sequence he will now get an opportunity to extend in a black and white shirt having agreed a long-term deal.
Having been on the cards for so long, the signing seemed to take an eternity to finalise, though Toon fans hope the wait will be worthwhile when it comes to the exciting young prospect.
“Despite Joe claiming he wanted to return to Newcastle United and the manager saying he wanted Joe, it took so long,” Kris Wallace from Gallogate Shots and All With Smiling Faces Podcast tells FansBet.
“If it’s the Joe Willock who had a point to prove last season then he’ll be a good signing. He scored an abundance of goals, matching Alan Shearer’s record of consecutive goals.”
But, to date, Willock is the only full-time signing to arrive at the club despite a number of departures – meaning the squad appears a lot thinner on the ground than it was at the end of last season.
Steve Bruce remains hopeful of securing some loan deals before the window closes on August 31 and has been linked with Chelsea’s Ethan Ampadu, though Kris is not too optimistic when it comes to new arrivals at St James’ Park.
“Willock will probably will be the only signing we bring in,” he says.
“I can’t see us bringing another full-time signing and if anything it is going to be loan deals as we’ve got two loan places left that the Premier League allows.
“The squad this year is weaker than it was last year, we’ve seen Muto leave, along with Florian Lejeune and Andy Carroll.
“Cover-wise, that leaves us worse, hence why we need loan signings to come in. We are very short up front with Callum Wilson and Dwight Gayle, both of which can’t stay fit for the whole season.
😶 “The fans realise where we are as a football club. We’re stuck with Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce…”
🤔 “If we were to make our voices heard, would anything change?”
— FansBet (@FansBet) August 19, 2021
“If both of them get injured at the same time it leaves us without a recognised striker before we start looking to the likes of the academy.
“Bruce has flirted with the idea of playing Allan Saint-Maximin up-top, but if he isn’t in the mood to put on a performance for the fans, he’s not the man you want up-front by himself.
“We need another central midfielder, we struggled in that role and it looks like Sean Longstaff could be leaving the club as well, a player who had a huge potential under our previous manager but has struggled since returning to the squad and under the current coaching staff.
“As for Jeff Hendrick playing in midfield, the less said about him the better to be honest. It’s a bang-average team so we do need a couple of signings.”
On the pitch, The Magpies went down to an opening-day defeat at home against West Ham, despite leading 2-1 at the break.
There were some positives to take from the game – especially in an attacking sense – with goals from Callum Wilson and Jacob Murphy twice putting the home side ahead.
But there were also some defensive issues Bruce will be keen to resolve as the Magpies take on Aston Villa on Saturday, knowing that a positive result is needed after the West Ham setback.
“West Ham had a good season last year and we started off well,” explains Kris. “The atmosphere was great.
“As for the game itself, first half, Newcastle were absolutely fantastic. We looked really sharp and really on the offensive, something we’re not used to seeing under Steve Bruce.
“The second half it was completely different, which dampened the atmosphere a bit, obviously being in the lead twice and going on to lose 4-2.
“How long it stays like that is a whole different question as we all know that when a team isn’t doing well then the fans start to turn, no matter which fan you are it happens at stadiums across the country.
“There were no chants against Bruce, but I don’t think that’s fans accepting him and backing him, I think it’s fans realising where we are right now as a football club.
“The whole failed takeover thing has damped spirits across Tyneside and we now realise we are stuck with Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce so I don’t think that if we were to make our voices heard anything would change.
“If results weren’t to go his way and Bruce did get the boot, who comes in? It’s just going to be another one of those older managers and it’s just going to go full circle and someone will come in as prehistoric as Bruce and his tactics.
“You always look at advancing from the previous season, but I think we are quite short in certain positions so we are only a couple of injuries away from an absolute crisis.
“The club’s ambition this season is to survive, it always is. Mike Ashley’s ambition is to just stay in the Premier League, it doesn’t matter if it’s by one point or goal difference, as long as we’re in that league, he’s happy.
“But no matter what you hear in the media, Newcastle fans don’t expect much from their team, all that we want is a team that tries – like the first half against West Ham.
“It’s not going to be a fantastic season and I think we’ll get left behind by other teams around us who are investing, so once again it’s going to be a torrid season, we’re not going anywhere soon.
“Am I looking forward to it? Despite what I’ve said, yes. I can’t get enough of it to be honest with it, they keep on making us upset and I keep on going back!”
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