The 2019/20 Premier League season begins on Friday, when European champions Liverpool host Norwich at Anfield. As part of our season preview, The Coaches’ Voice experts have predicted who can expect to finish where and the key tactical questions facing each team. Here, we cover those clubs we believe will finish between 16th and 13th, starting with a new manager in charge at St James’ Park.
16th: Newcastle United
Newcastle enter yet another season lacking stability, this time owing to the departure of Rafael Benítez. Steve Bruce (above, with new striker Joelinton) was quickly appointed as his successor, but is immediately under pressure to provide similar results to those achieved by Benitez’s impressively organised defensive block and tactical expertise.
The limited squad Bruce inherited has since been strengthened by the arrivals of Joelinton and Allan Saint-Maximin. The minimal emphasis on attack Benítez’s team often demonstrated, regularly isolating lone striker Salomón Rondón, is something Bruce can improve by providing support around the mobile, hard-working Joelinton.
In pre-season, Bruce experimented with a 3-5-2 formation, which he also used when last in the Premier League with Hull City. This system encourages the use of one close supporting attacker, greater width through wing-backs and transitional stability with three deep-rooted central midfielders. Similarly, a 3-4-3 shape – using two supportive inside forwards, Miguel Almirón and Saint-Maximin, around Joelinton – could also work. What is absolutely essential is that Bruce has a far better start than did Benítez to 2018/19, when Newcastle didn’t win any of their first 10 league fixtures.
Last season: 13th