How harsh will reality bite at Newcastle?

It’s good times being a Newcastle United fan, it’s been a while since many Geordies have been able to say that. With promotion locked up at a breeze and the Championship trophy all but secure in a trophy cabinet void of anything of significance for over forty one years. Preparations for a new season can begin. Yet despite the new found good feeling that surrounds St James Park, caution must be heeded. Newcastle will struggle to survival next season. It’s not going to be all rosy.

Manager Chris Hughton told Sky Sports ‘We have a really competitive squad who have generated a good momentum this season and they have developed as a group of players. They deserve an opportunity. It is all about competition for places and keeping the momentum going.’ Whilst I agree with his sentiments, some serious investment will be required in key areas for Newcastle United to stand a chance of staying up.

Clearly a striker is required who can consistently score at the top level. With a reported budget of £15 million to spend on players in the summer, a striker is top of the list. But is £15 million enough to keep them in the Premier League? What Newcastle United as a club and its fans must realise, the difference in level between the Championship and Premier League is massive. It’s been great thrashing teams left, right and centre for a year, but up where the big boys play, scraping draws and stealing wins will be the order of business.

Newcastle United’s sole target must be the fourth worst team in the Premier League. Anything more is a huge success for Chris Hughton and the players he has. There is some sparkle within the team such a Jose Enrique, who after a very slow start to his career in England has come on leaps and bounds. Retaining his services over the summer is imperative. Jonas Gutierrez is another who clearly is just different class than those around him in the Championship. He needs to be at his best next season for Newcastle United to retain their Premier League status.

A playmaker wouldn’t go a miss either. The central core of Joey Barton, Kevin Nolan, and Alan Smith offer little in the shape of a cute pass or clever awareness. Hard workers all of them, and their grit and determination will be key if Newcastle have any chance at survival. But in a Premier League setting the Toon Army will need some more guile through the middle.

All in all Newcastle must be realistic; they most probably will be involved in a relegation fight. One thing for sure is that it will be a season of drama at Tyneside. When isn’t it? The fixture list could play a role too. Opening games against some of the big teams in the league resulting in heavy defeats could deflate the new found optimism around Newcastle. Hopefully this won’t occur and confidence will remain high. Newcastle need new optimism, but let it be cautious. They have one hell of a fight on next season.

You can follow all Matthew Balmforth’s blog’s on twitter:http://twitter.com/Soccer_Opinion