Life’s never boring on Tyneside. A typically up-and-down 2010-11 season left Newcastle United with a 12th-place finish and plenty of memories, both good and bad.
Last season saw it all, from Chris Hughton’s harsh sacking to the 5-1 demolition of Sunderland, and with Mike Ashley still at the helm, you wouldn’t bet on 2011-12 being any quieter.
There is much work to be done at St. James’. Twelfth is a respectable finish for any newly promoted side but just three points separated the Toon and Fulham, who finished eighth. A few quality additions should see the Magpies climb the table and push for Europe, but Newcastle’s stability could be damaged if the likes of Joey Barton and Jose Enrique depart.
Such uncertainty in the transfer market makes it difficult to know what to expect from Newcastle next season. Financial sensibility and Steven Taylor’s perma-tan are the only certainties, but Toon fans have every right to be optimistic.
The team performed above expectations last year and survived comfortably. Ashley and Llambias, as unpopular as they are, have the club on a sound financial footing and there’s no reason to worry for the club’s long-term future any more. Roadblocks and obstacles will emerge, but Newcastle have shown they have the resiliency to overcome them.
Nobody knows for sure what Ashley’s next boardroom blunder will be or what the first-team squad will look like by September 1st, but here are 10 bold predictions for Newcastle United’s 2011-12 season.