Newcastle United must press transfer window pedal to pressure Premier League top-four rivals

Already before sunshine days and beach holidays thoughts are turning towards next season. There is no respite in the drive for glory. Those who pause perish.

So what lies ahead for Newcastle United? A year ago they were the surprise packet roaring to fourth top and Champions League soccer. In the season just ended it was Aston Villa. Can it be Crystal Palace next time round the carousel? Maybe if they can keep their attacking stars given their strong finish but can they see off the sharks?

Then it is a question of can Manchester United come back as Liverpool did and can Chelsea kick on despite getting rid of Mauricio Pochettino who against all odds lifted them above Newcastle? Plenty of questions when considering the challenge United must confront to climb higher but then Villa might bomb under the extra pressure and Spurs can implode as much as they can gain wings. What too of Liverpool post Jurgen Klopp?

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For me it depends on United themselves and what they do in the transfer market this summer as much as what others do.

They have to look back and learn, look forward and act. Their last two transfer windows have been poor after an explosive start to life under new ownership and that simply cannot continue whatever the excuses, justified or not. Stand still and you go backwards.

Luckily early indications of sustained action are good with Lloyd Kelly likely to lead the influx of new faces. Aged only 25, signed for Bournemouth by Eddie Howe himself, he has quality written through him like a stick of rock and being a freebie in these days of a financial strait jacket is a significant plus.

A couple of Geordies have been a teeny-weeny bit worried when talking to me about the fact that Kelly has had injury issues because United have previously bought a quality player with such a drawback from the same club (Callum Wilson) but no I remain positive.

Another touted as a clever recruit on a free transfer is Fulham's Tosin Adrabioyo. The way we have been defending bring 'em on I say.

What else or who else? A goalkeeper (Valencia's 6ft 6in giant Giorgi Mamardashvili perhaps). A No 6 depending on where United are to house Sandro Tonali. All you notice to help United defensively where they have been awful.

What will surprise many outside observers is the wall to wall Geordie desire for a centre-forward given that United topped 100 goals in all competitions and 80 in the PL, both top flight club records. When we have a centre-forward who smashed 25 goals, three players who got into double figures (Isak, Gordon and Wilson) with significant midfield contributions from Longstaff (8) and Bruno (7) plus Barnes who with five from few appearances proved he will notch consistently when Lady Luck throws him a smile.

However the picture is not quite as clear as that. Wilson is painfully fragile leaving us with one centre-forward Isak. The rest are either goalscoring wingers or midfield attackers. Can the black and whites keep spreading the load as they did over 15 different scorers? No, a No 9 is a must for me and most fellow Toonies.

Man City remain everyone's yardstick. Jurgen Klopp is beloved at Liverpool but only won one Premier League title in nine years because of Pep's relentless obsession while Arsenal under Pep's apprentice Mikel Arteta were persistent in their pursuit of power but inevitably fell short of the master.

We certainly wish Guardiola the very best of luck (if he needs it) in the FA Cup final Wembley. Having deprived City of the opportunity to complete a domestic treble by knocking them out of the league cup all Geordies are rooting for them to achieve back to back doubles because it will put Newcastle in the Europa Conference and leave Man U banished from the continent altogether. What a delicious thought.

I'm fed up with those pesky Red Devils denying us. I can only too easily recall blowing a 12-point lead to them which cost us the Premier League title in KK's entertaining days, of finishing runners-up to them again the following season, and with Nick Pope suspended losing the Carabao Cup final as recently as a year ago. No more, thank you.

Unless City's celebrations on retaining the PL championship went on far too long leaving them hung over Pep's pedigrees are so superior to their across town rivals that there ought to be but one winner.

The black-and-white flag waving exercise down under in Oz at the expense of player exhaustion brought a 1-1 draw with fellow long haulers Spurs in the surrounds of Melbourne's arena to their No 1 sport with United declared the winners after a ludicrous penalty shoot-out. The result mattered not a jot. It was from the club's point of view an attempt to grow the product globally which may have massive drawbacks but is viewed necessary as part of the overall plan for financial expansion. Therefore the numbers that really mattered were the 78,000 who attended.