Hear me out…

Believe it or not, a year ago today I was hugely excited – I genuinely couldn’t wait to once again head up to Barrack Road with the lad for the opening game of the season against West Ham.

I can confirm that I am not a mentalist, honestly. But after months of sofa bound, sterile, behind closed doors football, I was excited at the thought of being surrounded by, and shouting myself hoarse with c.50k like-minded Mags again.

Fast forward 12 months, and once again I can’t wait to head up to the old girl that sits atop of our wonderful city for this season’s curtain raiser against Nottingham Forest. But that is where the similarities end…

This season, my excitement is a result of Newcastle United once again resembling a bona fide sporting institution that is intent on being competitive at the top end of English Football. It’s a result of the plethora of quality (but sensible)additions that have been made to a previously threadbare squad since the turn of the year. It’s a result of seeing experts in their field holding senior positions such as Manager, Sporting Director, and CEO at our beloved club once again.

This is a truly a different version of Newcastle United to the one we have endured since that fateful day way back in 2007, but in the words of Mehrdad Ghodoussi himself, “Patience is a virtue”.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and I think it is hugely important that the rank and file remember that if (when) we suffer the ignominy of a 0-0 draw, or even a 0-1 defeat to one of the Premier Leagues lesser lights, because as Jimmy Nail himself would say, this version of Newcastle United is being ‘Built upon a solid ground’ – it is nota Newcastle United being built on sand a la the Hall / Shepherd era, or built on the equivalent of sweet fuck all as was the Mike Ashley era.

But that ‘Solid ground’, those foundations that include Squad, Infrastructure, Academy, Backroom Appointments, and Commercial Revenues will take some time to lay and be ready to truly build upon, but when they are, trust me when I say it’s going to be biblical.

We just need to enjoy the ride that takes us there.

League Position: 9th

League Cup: Quarter Final

FA Cup:5th Round

Top scorer: Callum Wilson – only viable option without additional incomings

Player Of The Season: Sven Botman – genuinely think this lad will take us to a new level.

Lee Forster @LeeDForster

Rinse and repeat?..

I fear I will probably make this quite repetitive and that a few other writers will have predicted if not the same then likely very similar…

Our final league position will rest on two things:Callum Wilson’s fitness and whether we sign another striker, if either of these can go in our favour then a position eighth to tenth should be eminently achievable.

If both go against us that would mean that we are likely to be scrapping around twelfth to fourteenth which is lower than we would want but likely to mean no relegation worries. The defence should certainly be much sounder than under previous regimes as the squad depth is far greater in each position.

Opportunities in the cup will be there and I would love us to make the League Cup a real priority.Untilthe later rounds the strongest teams often field youthful sides and that surely offers us a great advantage.

It’s a nice to go into our season without thinking about regression. Only strengthening to improve and hopefully the next step in the evolution.

League Position: 9th

League Cup: Quarter Final

FA Cup: Quarter Final

Top scorer: Callum Wilson

Player Of The Season: Bruno Guimaraes

Stephen Ord @smord84

 Are we there yet?.. 

I’m really looking forward to the new season – I’m going on Saturday (6:15am from Kings Cross) and feel like an impatient child waiting for Christmas morning.

Forest won’t be easy: a “proper” club and support, back in the big time and full of their own heady optimism for the new campaign. There are nerves alongside the excitement. But it’s an occasion, and something to look forward to – and as supporters that’s all we really want, for all that we’re accused of wanting so much more.

Even the nerves are more welcome than the apathy that they replaced.  It no longer feels like we’re watching the team out of a quasi-chemical addiction or a masochistic sense of duty, or that we’re turning to the back pages expecting a similar level of misery to that which emanates from those nearer the front.  It no longer feels as though supporters, manager, players, coaching staff and – crucially – the ownership and administration of the club, are pulling in different directions, making us feel like prize fools for spending our leisure time, and money, on NUFC.

We’re all pushing in the same direction now.

Sure, not everyone’s reasons are the same.  We – the rank and file – want to see progress because we love football and take pride in the black and white stripes.  The club’s hierarchy wants to see progress to keep their paymasters in Riyadh happy.

While one of those things is not like the other – and we can expect (rightly) to be reminded, as we (hopefully) progress, that we are being used as a vehicle for sports washing – this is now a football club that wants to win football matches. We won’t always do so, and we certainly won’t show the kind of form (over the course of a season) that we showed from February onwards, last time around.

But, as we go into the new season, for the first time in almost two decades, the “United” part of “Newcastle United” sounds right.  That is huge and is why I can’t wait for Saturday.

League Position: 9th

League Cup: Quarter Final

FA Cup:Semi Final– a Wembley trip (even to inevitably choke) would be brilliant

Top scorer: Wilson

Player Of The Season: Bruno Guimaraes

Yousef Hatem @yousef_1892

Dreaming…

One of the most eagerly anticipated seasons in living memory is upon us, and I am absolutely buzzing.

A highly competent manager, improved playing squad and united fan base under ambitious ownership is a recipe for a very promising campaign.

The demand for tickets of all kinds tells its own story, and St James’ Park should once again be an absolute cauldron for visiting sides. I’m looking for Eddie Howe to build on the impressive form under him last season and threaten the top 7 positions, with the Toon Army dreaming of European football again.

Whilst I would still love an attacking signing or two before the end of August, the defensive signings so far are impressive and add extra steel to the side. If we can introduce more goals to the team, this could really be a special season on Tyneside.

League Position:8th. An improved showing and pushing for Europe. A strong end to the transfer window could push a little higher.

League Cup:Semi-finalists. Hoping to take advantage of the clubs participating in Europe before Xmas who field weakened sides.

FA Cup:Draw dependent, and would love to say finalists, but will take a trip to Wembley for a semi-final (even though I hate it and they should be played on neutral grounds).

Top scorer:It has to be Callum Wilson. Even when missing most of the season last year he took the accolade, so I’m hoping for better luck on the injury front and 20 goals this season.

Player Of The Season: it Has to be Bruno Guimaraes. Could be genuinely world class and looks a cut above most midfielders in the Premier League.

Craig Shaw@shawzey15