Newcastle United season preview: Another relegation battle looms on Tyneside
Photo credit:( Gettyimages/Serena Taylor)

A summer which started off with much uncertainty has carried on for over two months now which has left many fans questioning the club's ambitions.

The Magpies lost Rafa Benitez when his contract expired earlier this summer and has been replaced by Steve Bruce who has seen just the one signing, Joelinton, arrive.

Transfer business

Newcastle United have lost Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez who scored a combined total of 25 goals last season for the Magpies but have only replaced Rondon with their record signing of Joelinton.

Bruce is still eager to get at least one or more two over the line, however, if the Magpies are going to avoid the drop again this season they realistically need four or five more additions to a thin squad.

The Magpies are severely lacking in the attacking department with just Yoshinori Muto and Joelinton as their fit strikers heading into the new season.

It does not seem like they are actively looking for another striker this summer, however, they are attempting to close in on a deal to sign Allan Saint-Maximim from OGC Nice.

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Saint-Maximim would help bring a creative spark to the team that is really lacking and would help ease the pressure off Miguel Almiron and creating chances for Joelinton.

New record signing Joelinton was brought to the club for £40 million from Hoffenheim 1899 in a hope that he could fill the void left by Rondon last season and potentially exceed the fan favourite.

The number nine may take a while to adapt to the Premier League and change his playing style to the way in which Bruce wants to play and set out his team this season.

Where the season can be won and lost

The Magpies have struggled over the last three seasons at the beginning of the season with last season going more than 10 games before picking up their first win against Watford.

However, that was under Benitez who the fans had faith in and would give time to turns things around as he did every season but Bruce does not have that luxury and needs to get off to a good start.

Although, that may be easier said than done as they face Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool within the first five fixtures as well as Norwich City and Watford respectively.

Newcastle will have to be at their best for the whole season if they are to avoid a third relegation in the last 12 years under Mike Ashley.

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The Magpies face Aston Villa, Sheffield United, Southampton and Burnley during late November and early December and these are the fixtures Bruce will be eyeing to get maximum points from.

Bruce has his work cut out from the start and will need to win games against teams around them and some surprising results like the win against Manchester City last season.

One to watch

Matty Longstaff

The younger brother of last seasons breakout star Sean Longstaff has been taking his chance during pre-season as he has played a part in each pre-season game so far this season.

Matty Longstaff may be the midfielder that Newcastle are not signing this summer as they believe he can sufficiently play a part in the sides push for survival this season.

The youngster is a different type of midfielder to his older brother. During pre-season, he has been pressing and closing down players doing the more industrial side of the game.

Longstaff will be hoping he can get his chance in cup games to start with and then step up to the challenge if any midfielders pick up injuries like brother Sean did last season.

Potential wildcard

Yoshinori Muto

The Japanese international had a difficult season last time out as he struggled to learn English, had time away at the Asian Cup and was injured for a number of months.

However, after putting in impressive performances against West Ham United and Preston North End Muto may be the player to replace Perez.

Muto Got the winning goal against the Hammers and created a number of good chances against Preston as well as improving his movement and spacial awareness upfront.

The striker may be able to operate in behind Joelinton this season and develop a good partnership just like Perez and Rondon did last season.

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What to expect

It seems like it is going to be another relegation battle for the Magpies this season, however, this time they do not have a Champions League-winning manager.

It will not be the defensive compact football many people have come accustomed to expecting when watching Newcastle as Bruce prefers attacking football.

Bruce will secure enough good results against teams they should be beating and likely being on the wrong side of a few heavy defeats to sides inside the top six.

Bruce and the Newcastle fans will be wanting to see more signings come through the door before this summer's deadline otherwise they will have to cope with a thinner squad than last season.

Newcastle have a manager in Bruce who knows the league well and the squad may just have enough to stay up this season if they do not pick up many injuries.

Predicted finish: 16th

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