Newcastle United have rejoiced in defying expectations since they returned to the Premier League in 2010, with dizzying highs, creamy middles and terrifying lows all coming at the exact opposite time people foresaw them.
In their first campaign back in the big time, the Magpies dispensed with Chris Hughton despite enjoying an unexpectedly successful season, and when Alan Pardew took the reins, the rollercoaster really started.
The very next year the Magpies ended up surprise competitors for a Champions League spot, finishing above Chelsea in fifth place on the back of the underrated signings of Yohan Cabaye and Papiss Cisse.
Then in 2012/13, when they were expected to kick on from that base, Newcastle plummeted, barely staying in the Premier League at all by finishing 16th.
It was all change again last season, when they came into the campaign surrounded by doom and gloom, before storming into sixth-place at Christmas.
They did so well people began to jump on the black and white bandwagon in huge numbers, only for Cabaye to be sold in January, with the club slumping to eight losses in their final 10 games.
Never the most popular of duos, Pardew and Mike Ashley took the fans to breaking point last season, and little was expected of them this summer, but the Magpies have come out all guns blazing in the transfer market.
Siem de Jong, Remy Cabella, Emmanuel Riviere and Daryl Janmaat have all come in for sizeable fees, with Mathieu Debuchy the only significant departure.
Newcastle have stuck to their tried and tested formula of signing well-regarded players from European leagues, and so far it looks to have worked.
Riviere has bagged three goals in pre-season, while Cabella and De Jong have two apiece, suggesting they’ve all hit their straps from the off.
The Magpies face a tricky first fixture against Man City, but after that they don’t play another member of last season’s top seven until late October, with seven matches against sides likely to be around and below them in between.
Given their propensity for succeeding when expected to fail, and flopping when backed to fly, all this might actually worry Newcastle fans.
However, a little optimism has been a long time coming at St James’ Park, and their 19/20 odds of finishing in the top half look an easy win.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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