Newcastle and midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa is hoping that his team can finish in the top-ten of the Premier League this season.
To say that is optimistic would be a major understatement at the moment.
The France midfielder told the Sun: “Our objective is to finish in the top 10 and I hope we can finish top five.
“That is going to be tough but I’m confident. The Manchester City game has gone and now we have to turn out attention to West Ham on Saturday.
“I will be doing everything for the team to maybe repeat what we did two years ago. We will be stronger than last year. There’s confidence in the squad. We think we can do something good this season.”
I think the midfielder better get himself down the hospital because he may be slightly delusional if he thinks that the current Newcastle squad are good enough to finish in the top-five. The Magpies currently look more likely to endure another season of struggle, not achievement.
Newcastle started the season with just one major signing in the shape of France international striker Loic Remy, who is currently out of action injured. The Magpies needed to strengthen their squad badly this summer, after struggling towards the bottom end of the Premier League table last season.
Their thin squad was exposed and the side from the north east ended up in the fight for survival, despite finishing fifth the previous season. They look more likely to have a season like last season than the season before though.
The problems are mounting for Alan Pardew and his Newcastle side. Firstly Newcastle fans have had to deal with the lack of transfer activity this summer, despite the team’s poor campaign. Then there was star midfielder Yohan Cabaye being unsettled by a bid from Arsenal for his services.
Cabaye was then subsequently left out of the 4-0 opening game hammering at Manchester City. Cabaye’s presence may not have stopped the Magpies being beaten so heavily, but his absence ahead of the first game of the season must have had effect on team spirit.
The defeat against City may have been just one game, but it summed up Newcastle in a nutshell, as Steven Taylor was dismissed and Jonas Gutierrez limped off with a hamstring injury. It was exactly sort of thing that happened to the Magpies last season.
Newcastle are now likely to be without Taylor, Gutierrez, Ryan Taylor and Davide Santon for their first home game of the season against West Ham at the weekend. The Magpies are now slightly short of defenders, with youngster Paul Drummett coming on for only his second appearance for the club against City.
Newcastle cannot afford to have another season like the last one for injuries. At times last season they were without three or four key players a game and it meant the team struggled to put any sort of run of results together.
If the same thing happens this season then the Magpies could struggle at the wrong end of the table for a second consecutive season.
I suppose the optimism shown from Ben Arfa is positive, but it is not realistic. A number of teams have heavily strengthened their squads in the Premier League this summer and finishing in the top half, never mind the top five will be a massive challenge for Newcastle this season.
The top ten would definitely be a realistic prospect for the Magpies if they could keep all their top players fit and in good form. However, for one reason or another Newcastle never seem to be able to field their strongest team.
New additions would also help the team gain a place back in the top half of the table once again. It seems that everything regarding players arriving at St James Park before the transfer window shuts has gone quiet.
New additions would give everybody at the club a lift, including the Newcastle players themselves I suspect. New arrivals look unlikely at the moment though.
I highly doubt that Newcastle will go down this season. However, if Alan Pardew does not strengthen his squad then it could be a long season in the north east for the Magpies and it will be the fans who will suffer.
Where will Newcastle finish in the Premier League this season?