Poised in the Premier League starting blocks a re-stocked Newcastle roster looked a cracking 6/4 bet for a top-half finish, but they’ve already drifted to 7/5.
Three games in, the starter motor is still a-stutter, here’s how…
The great-slump hangover is more lasting than might have been expected.
Sure enough the post staying-up collapse of 2013/14 has almost disappeared from the rear-view mirror, but its psychological effects cannot be underestimated.
Alan Pardew’s men lost 15 of their 20 outings after the turn of the year, failing to score in a depressing 13 of those fixtures.
It’s the kind of deeply-ingrained losing culture that sees teams slump down through the divisions and the Newcastle psyche doesn’t seem to have been revitalised over the summer.
Closing down Remy Cabella stymies the bulk of their creativity.
The Frenchman has added a significant spark, averaging 2.7 key passes a game so far, but snuffing his threat leaves the Magpies clutching at straws with their talons.
His threat from the wings can be easily marginalised as long as Newcastle lack an orchestrator in the central areas.
Moussa Sissokho has been tasked with the role, but the Frenchman was at his most creative last term in the very right-sided attacking berth handed to Cabella upon the latter’s arrival.
Loic Remy has yet to be replaced in a meaningful fashion.
Responsible for either scoring or assisting 37 per cent of the Tynesiders’ league goals last term, the Chelsea man was always going to be a huge loss, but attempts to replace him have faltered.
Without Remy it’s difficult to identify a leading goal-getting light among the attacking ranks.
Ayoze Perez is too green, Siem De Jong has yet to play when fully fit and Emmanuel Riviere is not a finisher, while it’s long since been clear that the deal with the devil that briefly made Papiss Cisse a world beater has run it’s course.