Williams signs, Wembley glory and top-four challenge: Newcastle United's dream season prediction

While there was much to be positive about in the 2023-24 campaign for Newcastle United, a seventh-place finish and missing out on European competition was probably less than Eddie Howe and Co had hoped for at the start of the campaign.

Of course it's a huge step forward for a club which have become used to relegation battles, but after the fourth-place finish in 2023, it was something of a comedown. United remain a work in progress and will look to strengthen again this summer.

Howe and the United hierarchy will have hopes of bettering last season's performance, especially without the demands of European football. A trophy remains the holy grail and the first side to end that drought will be immortalised as heroes on Tyneside. So what would an ideal, if realistic, season look like for Newcastle United? Here's some thoughts for starters.

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Keep key players

It's imperative to United's aims that they keep their star men on Tyneside, and that means rebuffing any approaches for Bruno Guimaraes and Alexander Isak. Both appear to the happy at the club and very much a part of the way forward at St James' Park. There has been interest in Isak for the likes of Arsenal, while Bruno has been linked with moves to Real Madrid, Liverpool and PSG.

However, while United do need to generate transfer funds to help Howe strengthen his squad, they can't afford to sacrifice such influential players at this stage. Keeping them in black-and-white would be a major first step.

Right signings

It's about quality over quantity this summer and most of the focus is on bringing a right-side forward to the club to complement Anthony Gordon and Isak as an attacking trio. Michael Olise appears to be heading for Bayern Munich, but Newcastle have been linked with several attacking players, such as Pedro Neto and Nico Williams. A player of of their ilk arriving at St James' would certainly get fans excited.

Lloyd Kelly's arrival has taken the pressure off somewhat in terms of defensive cover, although following the blueprint on signing replacements before they're needed, a right-sided centre-back would be ideal - as would another striker option. Finding someone who is happy to play second fiddle to Alexander Isak is a tricky task, but a young, up-and-coming forward would fit the bill.

Top-four challenge

It's easy to forget that Newcastle are still in the early stages of their development under the new owners and that the 2023 fourth-placed finish was way ahead of schedule. That said, missing out on European football last season was a blow. United can't afford to do that again, which means a top-four challenge is essential this season.

Champions League qualification should be the goal, but that's not yet the deciding factor. They must at least be in Europe, though, to continue to attract top talent to St James' Park. With fewer distractions this time round and, surely, less injuries to complicate matters, it should be achievable.

A trophy

Anyone under the age of 55 wasn't even alive the last time Newcastle United won a major trophy. Those under 60 probably can't remember it. 2025 will mark 70 years the last dometic win, the 1955 FA Cup success. That's several generations who have never seen real glory on Tyneside. Eddie Howe has always taken the cups seriously since arriving at the club, with perhaps only the FA Cup defeat at Sheffield Wednesday in 2023 a blot on an otherwise impressive record.

They came so close when losing to Manchester United at Wembley in the 2023 Carabao Cup and reached the quarter-finals of both domestic cups last term. They're due a few favourable draws too after least season's littany of big-names drawn out of the hat to face the Magpies.

Lifting a trophy will forever immortalise the next United side to achieve a goal which has eluded some many greats in the club's history. While league position brings wealth and the chance of big European money, the images of a Newcastle captain with a trophy above their heads will live forever. Just imagine . . .