Date: 6th August 2015 at 6:10am
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Formed: 1892 Manager: Steve McClaren Stadium: St James’ Park Capacity: 52,405 Previous years in Premier League: 21 Last 3 seasons: 2014-15: 15th 2013-14: 10th 2012-13: 16th Best finish: 2nd (1995/96 and 96/97) Opening day fixture: Southampton (H), Aug 9 Final day fixture: Tottenham (H) May 15

26th July 2015 - Pre-Season Friendly - Sheffield United v Newcastle United - Newcastle manager Steve McClaren - Photo: Simon Stacpoole / Offside.

This season’s aim:

The Toon only secured Premier League survival on the final day of the 2014/15 season after a wretched run of form and, under the guidance of new manager Steve McClaren, will be looking for a much improved campaign this time around. The squad has been boosted with the additions of three promising young international players for a combined fee of over £35m, although none of them have previous Premier League experience. The club will ultimately want to be aiming to try and secure European football, but they look far more likely for a mid-table finish with the defence and attack still in need of further strengthening, and a question mark over the mentality of the club as a whole, with them going on an eight-game losing streak under John Carver last term.

Transfers in:

22 October 2014 - UEFA Champions League - Arsenal v Anderlecht (Group D) - Danny Welbeck of Arsenal in action with Chancel Mbemba of RSC Anderlecht - Photo: Marc Atkins / Offside.

Georginio Wijnaldum (PSV), Aleksandar Mitrovic (Anderlecht), Chancel Mbemba (Anderlecht), Karl Darlow (Nottingham Forest), Jamaal Lascelles (Nottingham Forest)

Transfers out: Davide Santon (Inter Milan), Remi Streete (Port Vale), Adam Campbell (Notts County), Ryan Taylor (Hull City), Sammy Ameobi (Cardiff City), Adam Armstrong (Coventry City), Freddie Woodman (Crawley Town)

Star Player: Moussa Sissoko

16 May 2015 - Barclays Premier League - QPR v Newcastle United - Moussa Sissoko of Newcastle United - Photo: Marc Atkins / Offside.

A France international with 28 caps, the tall midfielder is a very good player – when he is on form that is. However, at Newcastle, like many of their other squad members, the box-to-box star hasn’t shown that consistency and often goes missing when things aren’t going his side’s way. That is something that must change if United are going to finish higher up in the Premier League standings, or even if the Toon’s number 7 wants to get a move to a team playing Champions League football. Undoubtedly talented, he must be more influential this season.

Shoot’s Newcastle blogger: Ben Spratt

Blogger’s view: “As ever with Newcastle United, this pre-season has given no hint as to which way the coming campaign will go. For the first time in eight years, the Magpies have spent money on complementing the squad rather than replacing out-going stars, and the signing of Georginio Wijnaldum represents a real shift – a talented player that wasn’t necessarily required, but was wooed all the same. With a new centre-forward and a manager who intends to both attack the cups and pass the ball, there might even be cause for optimism on Tyneside. Still, despite these exciting suggestions, it’s the acquisition of defender Chancel Mbemba that will prove most significant. If he strives in the Premier League, United’s leaky back-line might be no more. If the move doesn’t work out, however, it will be another long season of long balls and long odds with Mike Williamson in the middle.”

Blogger’s key man: Chancel Mbemba

Shoot Says: Bottom half

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