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Newcastle United: Sky Bet Championship season preview 2016/17

Newcastle season preview
Image: Can Rafa Benitez return Newcastle to the top flight?

All the transfer news, fan's views, predictions and odds ahead of Newcastle United's's 2016/17 Sky Bet Championship campaign.

Last year's finish: 18th (Premier League)

Manager: Rafa Benitez

Title odds: 7/4 with Sky Bet

First five games: Fulham (A), Huddersfield (H), Reading (H), Bristol City (A), Brighton (H)

Players In: Jesus Gamez (Atletico Madrid, undisclosed), Dwight Gayle (Crystal Palace, £10m), Grant Hanley (Blackburn Rovers, undisclosed), Isaac Hayden (Arsenal, undisclosed), Matt Ritchie (Bournemouth, £10m), Matz Seis (AA Gent Bel, £5.5m), Mo Diame (Hull, £4.5m), Ciaran Clark (Aston Villa, £5m)

METZ, FRANCE - JUNE 04: Matt Ritchie of Scotland controls the ball during the International Friendly between France and Scotland on June 4, 2016 in Metz, F
Image: Newcastle signed Scotland international Matt Ritchie

Players Out: Medhi Abeid (Panathinaikos, undisclosed), Shola Ameobi (released), Fabricio Coloccini (San Lorenzo, cancelled contract), Seydou Doumbia (released), Shane Ferguson (Millwall, undisclosed), Gabriel Obertan (released), Steven Taylor (released), Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace, £13m), Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool, £24m), Remy Cabella (Marseille, £6m)

Also See:

Fan's view - Mark Jensen, The Mag (@NUFCTheMag)

Expectation: The expectation is that Newcastle will have a very competitive squad when the Championship kicks off at Craven Cottage. The biggest wage bill, largest attendances, and most expensively assembled team - but will that equate to the most points?

Most fans don't see promotion as a formality but the reality is that remaining in the Championship more than one season would be failure. Rafa Benitez will not fail.

Most important player: Stuck between two but I would go for Matt Ritchie over Dwight Gayle. He was involved in 33 of Bournemouth's goals (15 goals, 18 assists) in their 2014/15 promotion season.

New signing Dwight Gale poses for a photograph holding a named shirt at The Newcastle United Training Centre
Image: Dwight Gale joined from Crystal Palace

Who will win the league? Newcastle 

Potential dark horse? Norwich 

One Championship player you'd want to sign? Ross McCormack

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Watch all 90 of Newcastle’s goals from their 2009/10 Championship-winning season. Can the Toon repeat the trick this time?

Ollie's prediction: 1st

They have the biggest budget, arguably the biggest fanbase and the most experienced and illustrious manager ever to have graced the Championship. They are the ones to beat. 

Sky Bet odds

Benitez's late bid to keep the Toon in the top flight came unstuck but the Spaniard and his side are hot favourites to make an immediate return to the big time.

Sky Bet have priced them up at 7/4 to be crowned champions and they are just 4/7 to earn promotion via some means with 1/5 the price on offer for a top-six finish. Dwight Gayle has arrived from Crystal Palace to boost the front line and Sky Bet have priced him up as their 8/1 favourite to be the Championship's top scorer.

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