Newcastle United 22/23: Halal the Lads* **

Joe D Reid

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* Yes, this pun relies on the Sunderland “Haway the lads” rather than the Newcastle “Howay the Lads”, but it’s a visual joke and I'm stuck with it.

**Offensive alternate thread title spoilered below

In profound contrast to the past few years, it seems like there may be NUFC news this summer (plus the last substantive post in last year’s thread will never be topped). So here we go with a 22/23 thread. When last we left them, Newcastle had spent 90M for five players in January:
  • Kieran Trippier ended up hurt nearly the whole time. He has two more years left on his contract and will be 32 next year. If healthy, he should still be an
  • Chris Wood did his best pre-2022 Joelinton impression and is probably gone in the summer.
  • Matt Targett was just a loan. Newcastle have a cheap (~10M) buy option but look like they will try to find someone better first.
  • Dan Burn played just about every minute after his arrival and the team defense improved almost immediately upon his arrival. He is signed for two more years as well, is from Newcastle originally, and seems like an excellent fit.
  • Bruno Guimaraes played hardly at all for the first month, seemingly because either he or Eddie Howe wanted to play him centrally, there is only one CM in Howe’s 4-3-3, and Captain Jonjo had that shot locked up. Then they changed their minds and he was the team’s best player down the stretch. A player who could actually win things.
They also fired Steve Bruce, brought in Eddie Howe, and almost immediately began to look like they had a plan. The formation change included a move for Joelinton from CF/LW to LM. Apparently they had been playing him out of position for three years, because he was great and won the team’s player of the year award.

And, yes, they got bought by a country (technically a county’s investment fund, but the same family owns and controls both the fund and most of the country, so close enough). My own feeling is that I supported Newcastle and opposed the Saudi royal family before the takeover, and will continue to support Newcastle and oppose the Saudi royal family after the takeover. The sportswashing only works if we actually change our opinion of them. But I reserve the right to change my mind if the money spent gets too gross or they keep doing shit like the proposed third shirt this year. My new club will be either Clapton FC or ASD Montalcino; I will create a poll if the time comes.

My expectation is that Newcastle will spend an amount slightly less than the more desperate of the Big 6 and end up top half next year. Whatever level they are trying to reach, it’s not a one-year journey to get there.

**
Newcastle United 22/23: The Premier League is a Meat Grinder
 

Dummy Hoy

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I don't envy the challenge before you guys as sports fans...it's frankly an unfair dilemma to ask people with a moral compass to choose to change their fandom (or not) based upon something as distant as ownership of your club. Especially when the issue isn't hw the ownership treats the club and fans.

I do disagree slightly with the idea that "sportswashing only works if we actually change our opinion of them." The idea to me is less of changing minds and more of a magician's trick of misdirection. Pretty hard to focus on the myriad of authoritarian abuses when you've got 11 men creating art of the highest level.

Good luck with your journey. I mean that sincerely.
 

Zososoxfan

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I still play in a pub league and we wear orange. So every so often I go to an online soccer shop and search discount jerseys by color. About 1-2 years ago I nabbed a NUFC orange alternate shirt and it's terrific. It gave me much satisfaction wearing it a couple weeks ago when they beat Arsenal.

Much like MANC, I don't have much of a problem separating the owners from the club. The on-field product at MANC is brilliant, and I hope NUFC gives us another club to make this league even more impressive and competitive.
 

InstaFace

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  • Kieran Trippier ended up hurt nearly the whole time. He has two more years left on his contract and will be 32 next year. If healthy, he should still be an
I like to imagine that this was initially a typo, but then you saw it and frankly it was not inaccurate, so you left it as is.
 

OCST

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In Lampards first PL game, Newcastle abused Everton 3-1 and it wasn’t that close. Trippier and ASM were both holy terrors. Even before any window additions a *healthy* Barcodes team, especially at home, is formidable.

Of course keeping those two fit is a challenge.
 

Blundatola

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Allan Saint-Maximin played more minutes than any other Newcastle player this past season. But, yes, he’s our most creative player, so keeping him fit is imperative.
 

OCST

Sunny von Bulow
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Allan Saint-Maximin played more minutes than any other Newcastle player this past season. But, yes, he’s our most creative player, so keeping him fit is imperative.
I'm very surprised to hear that. I thought that he had missed a lot of time.
 

Blundatola

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I'm very surprised to hear that. I thought that he had missed a lot of time.
He missed a good amount of time the prior season, which is maybe what you remember. He’s logged over 2,000 minutes four times in his career and hopefully he makes it five next season.
 

InstaFace

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Am I the only person uncomfortable with this thread title? Saudi ownership or not, referencing Islamic food laws in this context feels kinda icky.
I think it's fair to flag it. But then we ought next to consider whether it denigrates or stereotypes the people or group in question. "Haway the lads" is just "LFG" in English-English, so for me, looping in "Halal" as a mere reference to the ownership doesn't really feel like he's criticizing the religion or religious practice. I'll defer to the feelings of any Muslim here, of course, but at first glance I think it clears my bar.

Separate question, I suppose, as to whether it's witty or whimsical enough to be worth the bother.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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Looks like a great hire for them if you look at his first 4 years at Atlanta. More questionable if you look at the last 3.
 

Joe D Reid

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Well, we're about to get the new season underway, so might as well update the transfers which have been resolutely unsplashy to date. NUFC brought in:

- GK Nick Pope from Burnley (10M)
- CB Sven Botman from Lille (~32M)

That's the list--one new outfield player and a replacement for Dubravka, who I didn't think was all that bad these past few years. (Contrary to my prediction above, they also made Matt Targett's move permanent for a small fee, but he's been on the squad since January so he's not a new face.) Botman seems like a good move--looks like he'll get capped for the Dutch national team soon, and that's a good price for a 22 y/o international with starting experience in Ligue Un. No new strikers, which is surprising given Callum Wilson's age and injury history. No attacking players at all, in fact, although they are still in on James Maddison.

So, assuming Howe stays with a 4-3-3 I think we are looking at:

Pope

Trippier-Lascelles-Botman-Targett

Willock-Guimaraes-Joelinton

Fraser-Wilson-ASM

Maybe Burn plays over Lascelles, maybe Jonjo plays over Willock because they trust the pace of Fraser and Trippier to cover the entire right side. I would characterize that XI as on the good side of fine. But Chris Wood is another year older and still the backup CF, so the midfielders and wide players better score some goals. The Guardian projected them for 7th place; that seems a little optimistic to me unless you really think that Howe is materially better than the average PL manager rather than just materially better than Steve Bruce.

tl;dr: Consolidation year.
 
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PedroSpecialK

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Seems like a year to also bank increased revenues and drive the FFP cap higher for next summer, given the outlays in January. I think it's prudent and they're well positioned to stay up, with Europe + aspirations coming shortly after.

And hey let's face it, the money pit is basically bottomless but LIV hasn't been cheap.
 

Joe D Reid

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Jonjo Shelvey (M/Chaotic Neutral) is out for 3 months after hamstring surgery. That's actually a problem, because while there are a bunch of guys in the squad who are labeled as "midfielders", Jonjo is the only real CM besides Bruno. Howe's system only needs one CM at a time, but Bruno can't play every minute of every game. Maddison would sort of fit, but he is more of an attacking option than a playmaker type. I would say that they'll just buy someone else from Burnley, but I'm not sure Burnley have any players left.
 

Joe D Reid

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He’s not particularly exciting, but Sean Longstaff is a CM, no?
I don't know what they think he is at this point; Howe only played him last year once they had guaranteed that they were staying up. I think you're right that he's now the backup at CM, but to me that's a demonstration of the problem rather than a refutation of it.
 

OCST

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Jonjo Shelvey (M/Chaotic Neutral) is out for 3 months after hamstring surgery. That's actually a problem, because while there are a bunch of guys in the squad who are labeled as "midfielders", Jonjo is the only real CM besides Bruno. Howe's system only needs one CM at a time, but Bruno can't play every minute of every game. Maddison would sort of fit, but he is more of an attacking option than a playmaker type. I would say that they'll just buy someone else from Burnley, but I'm not sure Burnley have any players left.
I love this and I love Jonjo.
 

Joe D Reid

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So, I suppose we have to start talking about this now. Newcastle sit 4th on points and 3d in GD(!) after slapping around some ostensible peers and getting 4 points out of away matches with ManU and Tottenham. They have done this with panic-buy Alexander Isak hurt or stuck behind a healthy Callum Wilson, Saint-Maximin hurt, and center back Dan Burn playing a weirdly effective left back in a 4-3-3.

Credit goes mainly to the defense, which has been largely rebuilt over the past two years and looks real. They even have some cover with Targett also a reasonable LB and Burn able to slide over to CB. I predicted MF Doom once Longstaff became an every-game starter, but he has been OK and they have developed a play style designed to largely bypass the MF on the attack by getting it out wide and just running at people. It is reasonable to expect improvement in the MF once ASM comes back, because he will push Joelinton back to the MF from the wing and let Howe choose among Willock and Longstaff for the other MF. (Or maybe even let Guimaraes take a game off once in a while.) Up front, Miggy Almiron is farting sparks. Almiron will cool off--he has 7 goals vs. 4.3 xG and has hit multiple golazos this month--and Callum Wilson will get hurt again any second now. But maybe Isak will work as cover, and ASM ought to help as well.

They have Southampton (A) and Chelsea (H) left before the World Cup break; amazingly, 3 points from those two matches feels like par. The Tyne Bridge is a rainbow. I still don't see how this continues at this rate after the break, but at this point the season is basically already a success. Maybe tack on a run the League Cup? It would be fitting if they won it just in time for it to be dropped as a major competition.
 
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Dummy Hoy

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Anyone that doubted Eddie Howe’s skill as a coach should really reconsider. His ability to get this group tight at the back and still threatening up front has been impressive. It’s too bad about the ownership thing because otherwise this group would be pretty likable.
 

Joe D Reid

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Howay to Callum Wilson for making the England team (and not playing even though Kane will bottle it).
 

Dummy Hoy

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So…you guys care about the FA Cup at all? I know top 4 is a priority but what caliber of squad to you expect to bring to Hillsborough?
 

Blundatola

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So…you guys care about the FA Cup at all? I know top 4 is a priority but what caliber of squad to you expect to bring to Hillsborough?
I definitely care about the FA Cup, and would be ecstatic if Newcastle were to win it. I’d kiss top 4 goodbye in a heartbeat to get it.

The club probably feels a bit differently, though. Top 4 is obviously much more important from a commercial (and sports washing) perspective. There is a big trip to Arsenal four days before the cup match at Hillsborough, so key players could be rested, especially if the League Cup is still a possibility to win that elusive trophy.

I’m glad it’s at Hillsborough. Feels like a proper tie.
 

Joe D Reid

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So…you guys care about the FA Cup at all? I know top 4 is a priority but what caliber of squad to you expect to bring to Hillsborough?
I think with their league position and the fact that they are still alive in the League Cup (and with a decent 16 draw against Bournemouth) they won’t go all out for the FA Cup this year.