How far will Newcastle United's European resurgence take them?

Published on 8 November 2023 at 20:00

Newcastle United are finally back where they belong amongst the giants of European football, after securing a top four finish in the 2022/23 Premier League season.

The side travelled to Signal Iduna Park to play Borussia Dortmund in Group F, where they were hoping to leapfrog their German counterparts going into Matchday 5.


Unfortunately for Newcastle, Dortmund did the double over the English side with a 2-0 win courtesy of goals from Niclas Fullkrug and Julian Brandt.


AC Milan threw Newcastle United a lifeline after beating PSG, but that result still leaves the club bottom of their Champions League group, with fixtures against the French side at the Parc Des Princes and AC Milan at St James Park looking like must-win games if Newcastle want to progress to the knockout stages. 


There is still a very solid chance that they will find their way in the Europa League knockout stages if they do not finish in the top two in the group, but their chances could look weak with sides like Liverpool, Marseille and Roma still left in the competition.

Newcastle United's European history


This is the first time that the Magpies have featured in a Champions League group stage since the 2002/2003 season, under the stewardship of Sir Bobby Robson.


After losing their first three games, Newcastle completed an insane turnaround by winning their last three games to qualify for the second group stage. 


The squad could boast Kieron Dyer and Gary Speed in midfield, with the likes of Craig Bellamy and captain Alan Shearer leading the line for the Northern club. 


The second group stage saw Newcastle come up against Barcelona, Bayern Leverkusen and Inter Milan, where they fell just short in third place behind Barcelona and Inter Milan, getting inevitably dumped from the competition. 


They will be hoping this current campaign will not match their first ever Champions League tournament in the 1997-98 season, where they finished in third place with a group consisting of Dynamo Kiev, PSV and Barcelona.


Despite the likes of Stuart Pearce, John Barnes and Ian Rush in the team, they could only win two out of their six fixtures, with seven points proving not to be enough to surpass Dynamo Kiev and PSV.

The Europa League


It might be considered helpful for Newcastle to drop into the Europa League knockout stages for their young squad to earn some proper experience of how to cope against European opposition. 


There aren’t many Newcastle players that have played consistently within European competitions and it almost feels at times that the Champions League was too big of a jump.


As indicated earlier, this is the side’s first experience of Champions League football in about 20 years so it is important for these players to have a realistic approach and not be too upset if they do not progress. 


It has already been a very big and successful jump to where the Magpies are now, and a successful run in the Europa League could give the side some useful experience going into future campaigns. 


The growing injury list is making it likely that the side could drop into Europa League football, but this barrage of games is another lesson that this squad will have to get used to if they want to be the football giant that the owners aspire to be. 


The squad will be thinning slightly with these issues, with the side currently sitting two places below their previous league position in sixth place behind Aston Villa and Arsenal. 


Howe said it was “difficult to tell” if the team could still qualify for the knockout stages, but would “do our best to win our last few games”. 

How far can they go?


With the financial backing of their Saudi owners, it wouldn’t be ridiculous to imply that Newcastle United could be Champions League winners within a decade.


There has been significant support to areas within the squad in order to achieve such success, with many young players being brought in for the future of the club. 


Players such as Tino Livramento and Lewis Hall could be instrumental to the squad in ten years time but some of the bigger European signings such as Sandro Tonali and Alexander Isak are truly there to show the intent of the team and what they want to achieve. 


A top four finish could be necessary for the side to attract more European talent but there is no real reason why the pull of Premier League football and investing within the Newcastle project couldn’t entice these players anyway. 


A horrible reality for Newcastle fans might be that some of these fan favourites at the club now might have to be moved on to make this achievement materialise. 


It would take heavy investment within the squad in order to see Eddie Howe still remain manager, but on the flip side, a change with a more tactically and experienced manager could mean that the squad might not require as much financial investment. 


Careful planning will be necessary to make this Champions League success a reality, but patience will be key for Newcastle fans with full backing on their owners being paramount to this outcome. 


The squad is more than talented enough to succeed within the Europa Conference League, as their team on paper looks a lot stronger than West Ham, who won it last season against Fiorentina. 


This is why a Europa League run could be so important to this younger squad to gain useful experience, making the side used to hostile atmospheres and big stages that they haven’t been in before. 

How will this season go? 


I do believe that Newcastle will show a good version of themselves, but I think that they will just fall short and have a decent run in the Europa League. 


A tough game against PSG and a massive game against AC Milan will face them, and it could take two wins and a reliance on other results for the team to secure a top two finish. 


When the official draw was done, a lot of official news websites were labelling it as the “group of death” with three European giants in their first Champions League campaign in years so they have already done themselves proud, especially after their 4-1 win against 2020 finalists, PSG. 


A run in the Europa League looks likely, but I feel like a mix of injuries and heavy fixture congestion will mean that they struggle to win within the first time of asking, but the sky could be the limit for Newcastle United, as their careful decision making and financial backing has already shown.


The side has well and truly done the fanbase proud and exciting times finally look like they are on the horizon for the Toon Army. 


By Callum Burgess - 


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