Newcastle United's European Dream: A Realistic Possibility or a Far-Fetched Goal?

Newcastle United’s European Dream: A Realistic Possibility or a Far-Fetched Goal?

As we reach the thrilling conclusion of the 2023/24 Premier League season, there are so many stories to be told across all ends of the table. From a three-way title race between Liverpool, Manchester City, and Arsenal, to the points deductions that have resulted in an exciting relegation battle that has dragged in some of the country’s most established sides. However, the battle for European football is one that looks like it could go right down to the wire, yet is being overlooked slightly. 

The Champions League will undergo a restructure at the end of the season and thanks to the good performances of City and Arsenal, both capable of reaching the last four of Europe’s elite competition, a fifth spot could become available to the Premier League, opening the gateway to European football for a number of sides. 

Newcastle United actually began the campaign with their own European responsibilities, but a campaign plagued by injuries and the absence of Sandro Tonali had meant a disappointing first few months. However, Eddie Howe’s side have turned a corner and could indeed clinch a European spot despite what has been a lukewarm campaign compared to the dizzying heights the Magpies soared to last term.

Read on, as we assess whether or not Newcastle have what it takes to go all the way and secure European football in some capacity this season.

Managerial approach:

Howe and his backroom staff look to be the perfect fit for Newcastle culturally. They understood the project took time and were perhaps ahead of schedule. Last season saw the Magpies qualify for the Champions League and reach the EFL Cup final, only to fall short to Manchester United, and comparatively, anything further than that would have been tough to top.

New signings in Tonali, Harvey Barnes from relegated Leicester City, Lewis Hall on loan, and Tino Livramento have bolstered the squad, and at the mid season stage it looked like they were always capable of turning things around. Howe’s biggest stroke of genius in terms of his man-management has been getting the best out of Anthony Gordon, with the former Everton man reinvented at St James Park thanks to his blend of pace and trickery that will surely earn him an England call up from Gareth Southgate at this summer’s Euros.

Gordon has been at the creative hub of Newcastle’s tactical approach, and with Alexander Isak in fine fettle as far as goalscoring form is concerned, the Magpies will be less cautious of the defensive injuries that have been piling up – capable of out-scoring the opposition if required.   

Competition and League Standing:

Newcastle currently sit in eighth at the time of writing, so Champions League football might be optimistic, but there is every chance they can make it to the Europa League or even tertiary competition, the UEFA Europa Conference League. 

In their way stands West Ham United, who won the Conference League last season against Fiorentina, Tottenham Hotspur, who are enjoying a good maiden campaign under Ange Postecoglou, and Manchester United, a team capable of punishing on their day but one that lacks consistency. Given Newcastle’s form – just two defeats in their last five – it’s no surprise punters are using popular free bet offers to back the black and white army, especially at home. 

Having dispatched West Ham with ten men in the dying embers to restart the international break, Newcastle host Tottenham on April 13 in a game that could well prove season-defining. Victory could take them as high as fifth in the table if other results go their way, and with Manchester United aiming to secure a fourth-place spot, it could be that clash is the difference between European football or not for the Magpies. 

Financial Implications and Investment:

Despite the Saudi takeover granting Newcastle a seemingly massive warchest to sign players, the points deductions to Everton and Nottingham Forest have showcased that sides have to spend correctly, and securing European football provides a legitimate pathway to bring the best talent to Tyneside. 

A fresh summer window coincides with the return of Tonali, allowing Howe to look past the injuries that have squandered the opening months of the season and allow them to pursue their targets to invest in the team. 

The Magpies could well lose Isak and Bruno Guimaraes should the right bids come in, and after targeting Lloyd Kelly, Aaron Ramsdale, and Atalanta midfielder Ederson, they might need to utilise the owner’s deep pockets once European football is achieved. 

Overall, there is still a long way to go between now and Newcastle’s final game of the season against Brentford away on the final day of the season. The Premier League can be a cruel mistress and despite throwing all the bad luck on the Geordies, from injuries to officiating decisions, it will be interesting to see if they can overcome the odds to be playing in the Europa League or even the Champions League come next season.

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