Ah, Newcastle United, one of the great clubs in English football. The Magpies were one of the top clubs in the Premier League after winning promotion in 1993. They came close to winning the league title just three years later, throwing away a 12-point lead to finish behind Manchester United. There has been a slow decline since then however, with Newcastle suffering a shock relegation in 2009, and never really recovering, with a fifth-place finish in 2012 the only highlight.
The ownership of Mike Ashley has put a cloud over the club, and resistance to invest in new signings caused another relegation in 2016, and manager Rafael Benitez has a fight on his hands to keep The Magpies up this season. It’s down to you on Football Manager 2018 to lead this big club away from the drop zone, and perhaps slowly creep back towards the European places. Are you up for the challenge?
With a lack of funding and only just back in the Premier League, there are no philosophies you need to follow as Newcastle manager. You can bring in your own and discuss it with the board, but for your first season at least, you should allow yourself free rein.
Newcastle managing director will welcome you to the club and then issue the expectations for the season. The default is to finish mid-table in the English Premier Division, reach the fifth round of the FA Cup and make the fourth round of the Carabao Cup. If you want to aim higher, you will get a slightly bigger budget but given Newcastle’s finances, you won’t even get an extra £1 million if you set your sights on a top half finish and trips to the cup quarterfinals.
Transfer £10.75 million
Wage: £1.17 per week (Current spend: £1.13m)
There are so many systems you can use with Newcastle given the balanced nature of their squad. 4-2-3-1, 4-4-2 or even a five at the back system are possible options, but we’ve gone with a quirky 4-1-4-1 DM wide asymmetric to get the best out of your top performers.
Karl Darlow wins the goalkeeping battle, with DeAndre Yedlin, Chancel Mbemba, Ciaran Clark and Paul Dummett in defence.
Isaac Hayden is the deep lying midfielder, and Jonjo Shelvey partners him in a central midfield role.
Matt Ritchie and Christian Atsu take their place on the flank with Mohamed Diame operating as a number 10 and Dwight Gayle leading the line.
On the bench, go for Rob Elliot, Florian Lejeune, Jesus Gamez Henri Saivet, Jacob Murphy, Ayoze Perez and Joselu.
Newcastle have some useful players in their squad, but consistency has been the issue for the past couple of seasons.
Matt Ritchie – CA 4 star (140), PA 4 star (147)
It was surprising to see Matt Ritchie leave Premier League side Bournemouth to help Newcastle’s promotion bid and it will only be worthwhile if he survives relegation this season. The right winger has great technique and dribbling ability, and if Newcastle had a more dangerous striker, Ritchie would thrive in more space and link up with the forward.
The Scottish international has a 140 current ability rating on FM 2018, with a useful potential of 147. Ritchie offers attributes of 16 natural fitness, 16 work rate and 16 penalty taking.
Jonjo Shelvey – CA 4 star (138), PA 4 star (145)
Jonjo Shelvey is the heartbeat of the Newcastle side, which explains their consistency problems. On his day, former Liverpool man Shelvey can be near untouchable, with a fantastic range of passing, strong in defence and able to strike from range. If he finds top form for you this season, you can target a top half finish.
Shelvey, who has six England caps, has a rating of 138 which can improve to 145. His best attributes include 18 creativity, 17 passing and 16 aggression.
Chancel Mbemba – CA 3 star (136), PA 4 star (155)
Newcastle are not renowned for having a solid defence, but if Chancel Mbemba had more support at the back and from his goalkeeper things would look a lot different.
His 136 CA consists of 16 temperament, 15 composure and 15 positioning, which will no doubt improve as the 22-year-old has a potential of 155.
Newcastle have a long list of players who have come through the youth setup. Peter Beardsley, Paul Gascoigne and Charles N’Zogbia have gone on to become great players for the club, so who from the current youth teams can make the step up to the Premier League?
Freddie Woodman – CA 2 star (105), PA 3.5-4.5 star (120-150)
At just 20 years’ old, Freddie Woodman is already challenging for the goalkeeping spot at Newcastle. With neither Karl Darlow nor Rob Elliot nailing down the position, the door is open for U20 World Cup Winner Woodman to have a shot.
Woodman’s 105 CA can rise to a potential between 120 and 150, so there is a temptation to loan him out for the campaign.
Callum Roberts – CA 2 star (94), PA 2-3 star (110-140)
Having made his debut for the club back in 2015 and yet to appear since, it looks as if Callum Roberts’ time at Newcastle could be up. The left winger has impressed for the U23 side though, with three goals in just five games this season.
A 94 current ability rating can improve to between 110 and 140, so there is still a chance for the 20-year-old.
Victor Fernandez – CA 1.5 star (88), PA 3-4 star (110-140)
Victor Fernandez is more of an unknown quantity, with the 19-year-old winger playing 17 games for Newcastle U23s and making little impression. The Spaniard will need to do a lot to get into the first team picture, and perhaps a loan spell next season could be the answer.
Fernandez’s 88 CA will improve to a potential between 110 and 140.
|Central midfield depth||Transfer budget|
|Striker depth||Work rate|
|Centre back depth||Teamwork|
|Youth prospects||Overall depth|
|Star defenders (Chancel Mbemba, Paul Dummett)|
|Star midfielder (Mohamed Diame)|
Team Leaders – Jack Colback
Highly influential – Jamaal Lascelles (c), Paul Dummett, Jonjo Shelvey, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Matt Ritchie
Dynamics is the main new feature for Football Manager 2018 and it sheds light on the atmosphere inside the dressing room at the club. The Dynamics tab will show you the different social groups inside the squad, and which players hold the most influence over their peers. Bear that in mind when addressing your players individually, and the effect you have on them will have a knock-on effect to those around them.
£10 million isn’t a large sum of money, but it should still allow you to bring in one regular starter for the first team.
Left winger – Gonzalo Martinez (CA 143, PA 156)
With Rolando Aarons not quite ready for regular first team action, you only have three conventional wingers to choose from, and only one on the left side. Gonzalo Martinez would be an ideal solution, and for just £7 million the 24-year-old would come in as the best player in your squad. The Argentine has super stats of 18 flair, 16 technique and 16 acceleration, which will improve as he nears his 156 potential. Martinez’s wages at current club River are just £7,000 a week.
- Franco Cervi – Age 23, SLB, Argentina, CA 140, PA 150, Value: £2.7m, Wage: £7k
- Dudu – Age 25, SEP, Brazil, CA 144, PA 147, Value: £7.5 million, Wage: £18k
- Ricardo Centurion – Age 24, Genoa, Argentina, CA 137, PA 149, Value: £4.6m, Wage: £19k
- Jony – Age 26, Malaga, Spain, CA 135, PA 150, Value: £5.5m, Wage: £21k
Players to sell
The squad at Newcastle are all of a similar level, so there is no player who is not good enough to play for the club. You just need to identify if you have too many players in the same position.
Full back Jesus Gamez had a superb career with Malaga, but ever since he moved to Atletico Madrid in 2014, his career has stalled. He was the understudy to Juanfran there, and a move to Newcastle last season should have guaranteed him some playing time in the Championship. He has featured just 10 times since arriving at St James’ Park and with DeAndre Yedlin and Javi Manquillo, there is simply no need for Gamez. Look to sell the 125 rated Spaniard for around £4 million, saving £35,000 a week on wages.
With owner Mike Ashley ‘willing to listen to offers for the club’ the financial picture at Newcastle could change drastically over the next 12 months on your FM save. As things stand, the overall balance of the club is on a steep rise, with the club’s profits set to turn to loss in about a year. The good news is that you should have money to spend in the transfer window next season, with around £50 million at your disposal.
The start of something new?
New ownership is needed at Newcastle, and until that happens you will have to work with this promising, but frustrating squad. With so many winnable fixtures in the English top-flight, a top half finish is well within your grasp, but the cup competitions may be where the struggles will come. If you get a fortunate draw you could make it to the quarterfinals, but the Magpies are just no way near equipped to turn over any of the Premier League big boys anytime soon.
Newcastle first team squad, player roles and ratings
|Player||Age||Pos||Role||Duty||Role Ability||CA/ PA|
|Karl Darlow||26||GK||Goalkeeper||Defend||3 star||130/ 138|
|DeAndre Yedlin||24||DR||Full-back||Attack||3 star||132/ 147|
|Chancel Mbemba||22||DCR||Ball playing defender||Defend||3.5 star||136/ 155|
|Ciaran Clark||27||DCL||Central defender||Defend||3.5 star||135/ 136|
|Paul Dummett||25||DL||Full-back||Support||3 star||133/ 135|
|Isaac Hayden||22||DMCR||Defensive midfielder/ carrilero||Support||3 star||129/ 140|
|Jonjo Shelvey||25||MCL||Advanced playmaker||Support||4 star||138/ 145|
|Matt Ritchie||27||AMR||Inside forward||Support||4 star||140/ 147|
|Mohamed Diame||30||AMC||Attacking midfielder||Support||3.5 star||136/ 145|
|Christian Atsu||25||AML||Winger||Support||3 star||132/ 140|
|Dwight Gayle||27||STC||Advanced forward||Attack||3.5 star||134/ 136|
|Rob Elliot||31||GK||Goalkeeper||Defend||3 star||130/ 130|
|Florian Lejeune||26||D (C) DM||Ball playing defender||Defend||3 star||133/ 140|
|Jesus Gamez||32||D (RL) WB (RL)||Wing-back||Defend||3 star||125/ 150|
|Henri Saivet||26||M (C) AM (RLC)||Roaming playmaker/ mezzala||Support/ attack||3 star||129/ 137|
|Ayoze Perez||24||AM (C) ST (C)||Advanced playmaker||Support||3 star||132/ 150|
|Joselu||27||ST (C)||Poacher||Attack||3.5 star||132/ 142|
|Jacob Murphy||22||M (R) AM (RL)||Inside forward||Support||3 star||125/ 140|
|Jamaal Lascelles||23||D (C)||Central defender||Defend||3 star||131/ 145|
|Javi Manquillo||23||D (R) WB (R)||Full-back/ wing-back||Support/ defend||3 star||124/ 144|
|Massadio Haidara||24||D (L) WB (L)||Full-back/ wing-back||Support/ defend||3 star||122/ 135|
|Jack Colback||27||DM M (C)||Defensive midfielder||Support||2.5 star||123/ 132|
|Mikel Merino||21||DM M (C)||Deep lying playmaker||Support||3 star||125/ 152|
|Aleksandar Mitrovic||22||ST (C)||Target man||Support||3 star||129/ 150|
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