Newcastle United are going on a Champions League adventure next season and they have secured their place in Europe’s elite competition for the first time in 20 years.
Their class of 2022/23 has earned a number of plaudits over the course of the campaign - Kieran Trippier has been shortlisted for the player of the season award, while new signings Alexander Isak and Sven Botman have also been placed in the league’s young player of the season nominees.
This success on the pitch can largely be attributed to the work of manager Eddie Howe who has transformed the Magpies from a team fighting to survive in the Premier League to one that is flying high at the very top of the division.
Champions League football brings a great sense of optimism for the St James’ Park faithful and many of the club’s supporters will have fond memories of famous clashes with the likes of Feyenoord, Juventus and Barcelona.
However, the competition also offers an added strain to the team in terms of matches and travel time and the Magpies already have a very small squad in comparison to many of the teams around them in the league.
The Magpies are undoubtedly ahead of schedule this season and few could have envisaged them qualifying for the Champions League at the start of the campaign.
But what do Newcastle need to do to thrive in Europe next season while also sustaining their impressive league form? Here is everything you need to know.
What do Newcastle need to do to succeed next season?
Keep hold of key players
Newcastle United have enjoyed a great season in the Premier League and a number of players have caught the headlines for their sensational performances including Sven Botman, Callum Wilson and Bruno Guimaraes.
This core of players have been key to the club’s success and with rumours of Liverpool launching a bid for Guimaraes it is crucial that Newcastle do everything they can to keep hold of the Brazilian.
Guimarares arrived in January last year and over the last 18 months he has established himself as one of the most influential midfielders in the division.
The Brazilian is the heartbeat of the Newcastle midfield and they have failed to win any of their six games where he hasn’t featured.
Improve squad depth
Newcastle’s great success can largely be attributed to the stability and consistency of the team's starting lineup.
This has been particularly key in the defensive areas and the likes of Nick Pope, Kieran Trippier and Dan Burn have all featured in every single Premier League game over the course of the season.
This has worked to great effect and the Magpies boast one of the best defensive records in the entire division. However, the Toon Army only ever needed to contend with the league and cup competitions and next season is likely to be a much more strenuous challenge.
Eddie Howe’s side face a minimum of six extra midweek games during the Champions League group stage and all of those games are against top European opposition.
Three of those six group games will take place overseas which ultimately hinders the team’s training and recovery times in between Premier League games.
If the Magpies progress beyond the group stage they then face the prospect of playing a number of two legged knockout ties in the Champions League or Europa League, depending on their final group position.
It is therefore important that Newcastle increase their squad depth in a number of key areas as they face the inevitable prospect of picking up a few injuries over the course of next season.
The most notable lesson of this should come from Newcastle’s Europa League campaign 10 years ago. That time around the Magpies failed to invest heavily on new recruits and the combination of European football and injuries saw the club drop from 5th to 16th in the Premier League in the space of just one season.
Main areas to improve
Newcastle United have conceded just 31 goals this season which is the club’s best defensive record in the Premier League era.
The backline has performed exceptionally well but the club are short on depth in a number of defensive areas and they have been reliant on the same players starting every week.
Right back is one position that would need further investment and the club would need to add a quality player to compete with Kieran Trippier.
Centre back is another position that would need further enforcement - as it stands Jamall Lascelles is the only backup centre back for the typical pairing of Sven Botman and Fabian Schar, although it is possible to shift left back Dan Burn to a central position.
Burn has spent the majority of this season in a makeshift left back role and although he has performed well it is likely Newcastle will need a more attacking and pacey player on that left hand side to provide a further attacking threat.
Newcastle United have played with three midfielders throughout the campaign with Joe Willock, Sean Longstaff and Bruno Guimaraes mainly featuring in the starting lineup.
With the sale of Jonjo Shelvey in January it means they have just one backup midfielder in youngster Elliot Anderson - however they have occasionally shifted Joelinton into a more central role in the team.
For Newcastle to thrive on the European stage it is likely that they will need further options in that area to compete on all fronts. The Magpies are dependent on a high press system which relies on tireless workrate from the midfield - it is therefore important for them to be able to rotate the team at times to keep that high-intensity in the team and prevent a burnout.
Newcastle are fairly blessed when it comes to wingers and they have the luxury of rotating between a number of players including Joelinton, Miguel Almiron, Allan Saint Maximin, Anthony Gordon and Jacob Murphy.
Alexander Isak has even impressed in a wider role and his performance against Everton in particular highlighted his trick and flair.
The Magpies also have been fired into the Champions League by the form of top goalscorer Callum Wilson who has hit 18 goals.
But Wilson has been extremely injury prone in recent years and it therefoit is thereforee imperative that they add a third striker option to add further goal threat from the bench.
Australian prodigy Gurang Kuol signed in January and he became the youngest player since Pele to feature in the world cup knockout rounds. But he remains inexperienced and needs further experience out on loan before being utilised in the Premier League.