Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer has had his say on where Newcastle will finish this season, and he thinks they will improve on last year.
The Magpies ended the 2021/22 campaign in 11th, narrowly missing out on the top half. However, it was an incredible finish given where Eddie Howe’s side were at the start of the year.
We looked certainties for relegation when 2022 began, but Howe took the Toon on an astonishing run to almost make it into the top half.
There have been claims that Newcastle could qualify for Europe this summer, although the current lack of attacking signings makes that feel unlikely. The latest attacker linked with a move to St James’ Park is Kamaldeen Sulemana.
But Shearer thinks his former side can finish in the top half, and possibly even make it into the Europa Conference League.
Shearer predicts a top half finish for Newcastle
The Match of the Day pundit has given his views ahead of the new season, and provided his thoughts on where Newcastle are at.
“I’d love to say I think Newcastle will be fighting it out with Manchester United for a place in the top six, but I don’t quite see that happening yet,” he wrote for BBC Sport.
“Eddie Howe has already done a great job to turn the club around since he was appointed as manager in November and now my hope is that they will be challenging for seventh, eighth or ninth place, which I think is realistic with the squad they’ve got at the moment. They finished 11th last time, and were only three points off eighth place.”
Progress is all that matters for Newcastle
A top half finish would be ideal for Eddie Howe and co. It would be another step in the right direction.
We obviously want to finish as high as possible, but shouldn’t set the bar too high. Seventh is probably the upper limit of what we can anticipate, given the other sides in the division.
The traditional ‘big six’ have all strengthened, so it’s going to be incredibly difficult to break into that. It will be the goal in the future, but it’s a step too far at the moment.
Then you’ve got West Ham who have boosted their squad massively, while Leicester are also always a threat. There are plenty of teams who will be in the mix to finish seventh, and Newcastle will hopefully be one of them.
Finishing seventh could open the door to Europe for Newcastle, depending on who wins the domestic cups. They were both picked up by Liverpool last season, meaning West Ham made it into the Europa Conference League in seventh.
That would be a dream for Newcastle, but it will be incredibly difficult.
As Shearer says, the Magpies have made huge strides under Howe and are going in the right direction. But we need to walk before we can run. A top half finish would be a successful season.