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Know Your Opponent: Newcastle United

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Let’s open the curtain on the new season on Tyneside.

Newcastle United v FC Augsburg - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur open up the 2018-19 campaign by making a trip to St. James Park on Tyneside. Waiting for them are Newcastle United, who finished firmly in the mid-table last season on 44 points. It may still be surprising to the rest of the football world that Rafa Benitez is still at Newcastle, which is one of the topics we bring up talking to Bryan at Coming Home Newcastle. We also discuss their transfer window and what the expectations are on Tyneside for the season.

CFC: Newcastle’s transfer window was one of the busiest in the Premier League when you look at the number of moves both in and out. Can you summarize the biggest moves and how would you grade it out?

CHN: Definitely the signing of Yoshinori Muto was a big one. But Kenedy is by far the most important signing of this window. He was big for us last season, and I believe that he’ll continue to be a crucial part of our offense. I still would not grade this window highly. Probably a C, because we signed alright players, but not in the volume that we wanted, and certainly not the quality that we should have had.

On a scale of 1 to the 2010-11 season, how much do you hate Mike Ashley right now?

Are you sad that Sunderland’s in League One now and can’t shock you with their black magic wins?

I wrote an article on how upsetting it is that we can’t beat them anymore. But in the meantime, whenever I’m feeling blue or down, I can always remember that time Sunderland got relegated to League One. You can’t see my face right now but I’m laughing.

Is it worse to be stuck with Mike Ashley owning your team or better to luck into Rafa Benitez wanting to manage your team and how do you see those factors balancing out?

If Ashley isn’t gone by the end of the season, Rafa will be. Hands down. It’s worse to be stuck with Ashley. I of course want the best of both worlds with Rafa and an owner who will back him, but that’s not likely with Newcastle United. I’d rather have an owner willing to completely back his manager, no matter what. Ashley is a parasite, and he needs to go. At any cost.

Newcastle survived last season but it was obvious that they had to make some changes, as noted in the first question. Taking it all in, what do you think is Newcastle’s floor and ceiling for the table this year?

We just released our first podcast, CHN Radio, and on it you can hear my overly optimistic table prediction of sixth. I think relegation is possible, but in truth, I don’t see us finishing anywhere below 11. The team has improved, and Rafa is the greatest manager in the world. With everything that’s going on, the players are motivated to win, and Rafa is motivated to get results, no matter the cost. I think the formula (while coming through terrible means) is actually in our favor this year. I believe European football awaits us.

What can we expect from Newcastle on Saturday?

A win, of course.

But in all honesty, I expect a feisty side. One that is determined to come out of the gate swinging an axe with reckless abandon. Expect a midfield getting balls into the box, and defense unwilling to let your strikers get a single shot on a fantastic Dubravka. It’s gonna be a good match, like it always is.

Thanks to Bryan over at Coming Home Newcastle for joining us on Know Your Opponent this week!