12 months ago, the 2021-22 Premier League season was just getting underway and the Magpies’ aim under the guidance of then manager Steve Bruce and the watchful eyes of former owner Mike Ashley would have been little more than avoiding relegation from the English top flight.
However, fast forward to the current day and a lot has changed at St. James’ Park. The northeast giants have been rejuvenated by their wealthy Saudi Arabian takeover in October and long gone are the days of mediocracy and a lack of ambition from a careless hierarchy.
Eddie Howe was brought in to replace Bruce in November, which at the time was a move deemed not good enough to match the club’s goals by many pundits and fans alike, but the former Bournemouth boss has proved everyone wrong with the board’s backing — climbing out of the relegation zone and up to 11th by the end of the season.
More cash has been splashed this summer and the feel-good factor is at an all-time high in Newcastle, with Howe even dreaming of getting his hands on some silverware after another largely successful transfer window has saw the Magpies’ ranks hugely strengthened in crucial areas of the squad.
There won’t be instant success at St. James’ Park though, that will have to come with time — just ask Manchester City, who had to wait around four years before they won their first league title under the Abu Dhabi Group’s ownership. And that’s fairly reflected in the Premier League betting odds, where Newcastle are a 150/1 shot — the same odds as bottom-of-the-table Manchester United.
What is more realistic is a European football spot and a crack at one of the domestic cups. Howe got Newcastle within just seven points of West Ham United in seventh after displaying some of the best form in the league in second half of last season and that has arguably raised expectations for this campaign — with a Europa League spot deemed more than achievable.
A place in one of the continent’s club competitions will open a new gateway for Newcastle as well. It will make them more attractive to future transfer targets and that will be a massive step in the right direction as they look to then break into the top four and even compete for the Premier League title in years to come, which is surely inevitable.
They have already made good progress on that goal of booking a place in one of Europe’s three club competitions with a win over Nottingham Forest at St. James’ and a goalless draw against Brighton & Hove Albion leaving them fifth in the table after the opening two league games.
For another of their current goals, Newcastle could look to break their domestic drought with a domestic cup success. The last time the Magpies won the FA Cup was back in 1955 and they have never managed to get their hands on the League Cup, so either of those two pieces of silverware will be a welcome addition to their trophy cabinet.
It doesn’t look like they will be in the position to win either of those two cups this season, however. They are one of the more favoured sides in the outright markets for the FA and League Cup outside the Big Six at odds of around 16/1 for both, but it’s hard to see them getting the better of the likes of Liverpool, Man City, Chelsea or Arsenal should it come down to it at Wembley.
A European football spot appears to be the most realistic target for Newcastle this season. A domestic cup win could come in a season or two, with a Premier League title perhaps even coming to St. James’ Park a few seasons after that. It’s certainly an exciting time to be a Magpie, but money doesn’t buy instant success.