EPL Betting: Work ahead for improving Newcastle
...with success comes the burden of expectation and nowhere is that more acutely felt than on Tyneside.
The Geordies are going to end the year on a high but will still go into summer with much work to do before the next EPL season.
The departures of midfield mainstays Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan, along with full back Jose Enrique prompted many a Geordie to question where the club was headed. Evidently, they needn't have worried. Newcastle are [1.47] to end the season in the top six and [13.0] to gate-crash the top-four.
But with success comes the burden of expectation and nowhere is that more acutely felt than on Tyneside. Standing still is not an option, so Alan Pardew has to find a way to improve his squad, in the knowledge that any one, if not several of his key cast members could be set for the exit door.
While clubs will no doubt be sniffing around Demba Ba, Ivorian midfielder Cheick Tiote is also likely to be in high demand. And Newcastle's managing director Derek Llambias has all but admitted they will sell if the price is right.
"Tiote has been with us a year and a half. He is out there. People know he's a good player. He's proven in the Premier League.
"How are we going to stop a big club from coming in for him? It'll be very hard. One thing in our favour is that we now have a very good side and that might encourage the player to stay. But if someone knocks on the door and offers this or that money, the reality may be that we have to trade."
Llambias' pragmatic approach is unlikely to endear him to the Newcastle public, but they'll suffer seeing Tiote leave provided the revenue is reinvested wisely into the playing staff. But Pardew has set the bar high in the transfer market, probably too high.
The little-known Lille midfielder Yohan Cabaye proved an inspired signing, while securing Ba's signature on a free transfer was surely one of the summer's most astute pieces of business.
Pardew's got the Midas touch, for now at least, and the Toon are currently a very generous [3.1] to see off an out-of-sorts Liverpool at the Sports Direct Arena on Sunday.