Newcastle - To Gain 100 or More Points in 2016/17

Football - English Championship - 06 May 19:45

This is for Newcastle to finish the Championship season with 100 or more points, at odds of 10 with Skybet. It was quite tricky to find (best off just googling it – but here’s the link: https://www.skybet.com/football/specials/newcastle-united-specials

There are a number of reasons I like this bet, the first of which is down to one man – Rafael Benitez. As a fan, I couldn’t believe it when we secured him to try and save us from relegation and I think it’s plausible to say that, if he had come in sooner, we might have survived.

I was quietly confident he would stay on after relegation was confirmed, especially after the way he was lauded by the fans – despite him ultimately failing at what he was brought in to do. How many managers have won the Champions League does the Championship offer? It’s safe to say I’m more excited about this season under Rafa than I was about any other in the Premier League under Pardew and McClaren. Finally it seems that Newcastle United have the calibre of manager we have craved since Sir Bobby.

So that’s reason number one – in a nutshell, someone like Rafa Benitez has deep rooted knowledge of the game along with the utmost respect of every player in Newcastle’s squad. If Rafa told you how to improve your game, would you listen to him? Of course you would, you’d be a fool not to.

The last time Newcastle frequented the Championship was in the 2009/10 season, spending just 1 season in second tier and swiftly returning to the PL under the guidance of the massively respected Chris Hughton. That season, we won the league amassing 102 points.

Comparing squads, it seems that this Newcastle team is streets ahead of their 09/10 counterparts that won this bet. Back then, the core of the team centred around player such as Steve Harper, Coloccini, Jose Enrique, Danny Guthrie, Peter Lovenkrands, Ryan Taylor, Alan Smith, Kevin Nolan, Andy Carroll and Shola Ameobi – not exactly ‘exciting’ players or ones that you would associate with a tremendous amount of talent. Nevertheless they get the job done, a bit of steel goes a long way in such a physical league.

There’s no doubt that the Championship has become more difficult since then. It’s often described as one of the toughest leagues to get out of (Derby are a prime example in recent years), with lots of good teams and a gruelling fixture list that sees most clubs playing two games a week.

Having said that, Newcastle’s squad looks on its way to preparing for this. We’ve kept nearly all of our players (so far) – no doubt thanks to Rafa staying on as manager. Ok, so we’ve sold Wijnaldum (cheers for the £25m by the way Liverpool!). There’s no doubt that he’s a good player but having watched him nearly every week, it’s amazing how often he just disappears in games. Sometimes I genuinely forgot he was playing. Ok, yes he scored 11 goals – but remember 4 came in one game v Norwich and 2 against Spurs on the final day. All 11 were scored at home. Not quite as good as it first appears. I’m sure we’ll sell Sissoko, but again he was dreadful for the majority. I’ve never seen a player get booed so much at St James’ Park than he did against Bournemouth (I think). The animosity towards him from the stands that day was frightening – he got a standing ovation when he was subbed. He’s not a loss to us based on his performances last season. Obviously Townsend was a loss but that was expected.

So far we have signed a Belgian keeper – good depth in that position considering Krul and Elliot are both out for a while still. Jesus Gamez has joined from Atletico Madrid, he provides some versatility at either full back and brings a wealth of experience at 31 years old. Youngster Isaac Hayden has joined from Arsenal, again he’s versatile can play in midfield or a CB, according to reports Benitez was extremely complimentary of him when they met to discuss a move to the North East.

The two big signings are Matt Ritchie for Bournemouth and Dwight Gayle from Palace. Ritchie goes some way to replacing Townsend and Gayle provides a genuine strike partner for Mitrovic. The thing I like about these signings is a) they’re home-grown, players that know about the size of Newcastle United and know how passionate the fans are. B) They have made their way to the top right from the bottom. Ritchie started out at Portsmouth and had various loan spells at non-league clubs. Gayle started at Stanstead and moved up through non-league to Peterborough then on to Palace. What I like about this is that when players come from this background, they’re generally hard workers. Look at Vardy at Leicester; he grafts his arse off every week for the team. This is something you have to do when you play in the lower leagues, there’s no time for the ‘pretty boy’ footballer down there. This is the sort of attitude you need in the Championship.

A couple more signings are rumoured to be close, no doubt some defensive cover and maybe another striker are my guesses. Still no word on the captain this season, but I feel it will be CB Jamaal Lascelles. Towards the end of the season he looked like a real leader, and what a future this young man could have at the club – especially under Rafa’s wing. Even at 22 years old, I firmly believe he’s the man. His attitude looks simply tremendous. Attitude goes a long way in the Championship, playing away at Burton Albion on a rainy Tuesday night in December wont be pretty and there will be games where you have to grind out a narrow win.

One other thing that I have liked about the run up to the season is the preparation. Now, many clubs see this as a great opportunity to grow their ‘global brand’ around the world. You see teams jetting off to all corners of the globe to play friendlies etc. Last year Newcastle toured America and the season before it was Australia and New Zealand. The only problem with this is that come the first game of the season, your players have thousands of air miles in their legs already – not to mention the 36-degree heat (as it has been in the States these past few weeks). The long and short of it is, you can be subconsciously knackered before the season even begins.

Newcastle however shouldn’t have this problem. A week long training camp in Ireland, followed by a 1 day trip to Belgium is the extent of the Magpies travels, playing the remaining friendlies in England. Rafa has structured the friendlies to ensure we have played 2 games a week – and therefore mirroring the schedule in the Championship, so when we go to Fulham for the first game, we’re already in the routine of playing two games a week. This may not have any impact, but when it comes to the final 10 games then it could just be that fine margin that sees you nick a game rather than settle for the draw.

100 points is a big ask with just 138 to play for. I’d expect we’d need to win at least 32/46 but that is more than achievable in my opinion for all the reasons I’ve mentioned above. It’s no surprise that Newcastle are the shortest priced favourite to win the division in pre-season, ever. The average points total of the winner over the last 12 season has been 92.5, with this bet winning in 3/12. I don’t feel Newcastle are your ‘average’ Championship team. Considering this, I believe 9/1 is cracking value and got to go £30 on it. Despite something remarkable, I think we SHOULD get a great run for our money here.
SDPW +877.20
Stake: 30 10.00Skybet
Bets Placed
SW

SW (+9,026.27) bet £40.00 on this tip.

10.00
CJ

CJ (+2,542.69) bet £30.00 on this tip.

10.00
HunterUk

HunterUk (+2,003.82) bet £30.00 on this tip.

10.00

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