The Blues are off to a solid start, having collected all six points thus far without conceding a goal. Now City are set to face Newcastle United at St. James' Park on Matchday 3. Pep Guardiola has seen his side have a good run of success when visiting the Toon, but the Magpies are a side that is still in transition since an ownership change last fall.
During the build up to this one, I was able to connect with Elijah Newsome of our sister site Coming Home Newcastle. He was gracious enough to take the time to answer a few questions about the new season, the state of Newcastle, and the match against City. So without further ado, Elijah.
Bitter and Blue: Newcastle have been a bit uneven to start the Premier League season with a home win against Nottingham Forest followed by a draw away to Brighton. How do you see the season playing out for the Magpies?
Elijah Newsome: I think it is likely Newcastle finish within the 10-14 range. The squad depth is the best it has been in the past few seasons and Eddie Howe tactically is miles ahead of Steve Bruce. The tram is the fittest I have seen in my years following the club, with a clear direction and identity. No longer is Newcastle a club soaking up pressure and trying to get a lucky goal on the counter, it seems those days of relegation quality football are gone. Signings like Botman, Trippier and Bruno are miles better than we had before and frankly what any team in the bottom half of the table has currently. Eddie also has the added bonus of a large transfer pot to spend in order to improve the team over the course of the season, which could give the team a nice bump before the second half of the season
BnB: It’s nearly a year since the new owners took over. How do supporters feel about the direction of the club so far?
EN: The fans love the direction of the club. There have already been noticeable improvements at the club. The UK based owners are really involved locally, and interact with fans on the regular. The club are making quality appointments in appointing Dan Ashworth from Brighton as their Sporting Director and Darren Eales from MLS Club Atlanta United as their CEO, as well as many small appointments to the scouting team and academy. These are things that we did not have in the Ashley era. There was no sporting director, recruitment of coaches to the academy was nonexistent, and expanding the scouting department was an afterthought. This has been coupled with a planned renovation to the training ground, a higher level of community involvement, and lot of support for the women’s team as well as the youth teams. That being said, I am happy to also see that there are more fans who are trying their hardest to hold the PIF accountable for any their unsavory actions regarding the club. There was more outrage than expected when the fanbase realized their third kit was the exact colorway of the Saudi Flag. Whether or not this was intentional is still up for debate, but it was one of the first times I saw the fanbase push back on something that potentially came from the PIF.
BnB: Newcastle were in a real relegation fight for most of last season. Where do you think the turning point was to keep the club up?
EN: Bringing in Eddie Howe. From the start of his tenure he completely transformed the culture, and pushed Newcastle in the direction of a proper football club. The team went from training twice a week, to training every day. He brought in a dedicated sports science staff, drilled the team on how he wanted to play, and provided a clear plan/purpose for each member of the team. This has allowed individual improvements from players that fans had written off last season like Jonjo Shelvey, Emil Krafth, Fabian Schär , and of course Newcastle’s 2021-22 Player of the Season: Joelinton. Many fans who don’t follow Newcastle assume January was the true turning point for Newcastle when it must be said Newcastle went on an incredible run of form from December to May without Callum Wilson, Allan-Saint Maximin, and Kieran Trippier. Bruno Guimarães had a slow introduction to the team and did not play for a large chunk of Newcastle’s incredible run from December to May. The other signings brought in were defenders and Chris Wood, who was largely disappointing. That run was a result of Eddie Howe’s tactical prowess, and ability to develop players. Players like Jonjo Shelvey, Emil Krafth, Miguel Almirón , Fabian Schär , Joe Willock , and Ryan Fraser contributed greatly to Newcastle’s success with much credit to Eddie Howe’s eye for developing these players. That impressive run was way more about Eddie Howe than any individual signing Newcastle made.
BnB: And finally, what is your prediction for the match at St. James’ Park this Sunday?
EN: Newcastle’s attack has been lackluster thus far this season. The end product of any of their attacking moves is just nonexistent. Their result against Nottingham Forest should have been 4 or 5 to nothing, if only the attack could create decent chances. The Brighton game exposed that major flaw as the team struggled to create decent chances against Brighton, who are at best a team finishing in the 9-14 range Newcastle could find themselves in. That being said, I think Newcastle are going to get at least a goal in this one, but the Manchester City attack is going to be too much to keep up with and Newcastle will lose this one 2-1.
There you have it. A view from across the pitch. If you would like to keep up with all the Newcastle news, you can follow Elijah @Elijah_Newsome and Coming Home Newcastle @ComingHomeNUFC on twitter. I want to thank Elijah and the good folks over at Coming Home Newcastle again. Best of luck to the Magpies this season, starting next week of course.