- Starting Balance - £22.3m
- Starting Transfer Budget - £7m
- Starting Wage Budget - £883k p/w
- Current Wage Total - £737k p/w
Media Prediction - 7th (Achievable in First Season - 3rd or below)
Too many times it's been said that the job's nothing more than a poison chalice. A glorified mid-table side with a fan base living in dreamland. One of a select few English sides to see Champions League Football on more than one occasion, FM 13 sees Newcastle in the midst of a revival.
Mike Ashley's perseverance has started to bear fruit. Alan Pardew and Graham Carr have pieced together a competitive starting lineup, but the squad is still threadbare.
The spine of the side is particularly impressive, however it's the midfield trio of Cabaye, Tiote and in particular Vurnon Anita who catch the eye. Sprinkle on some Coloccini, Cisse, Krul, Ba & a young Adam Campbell and it's realistic to chase a top four finish from day number one.
Formation - Home
We all know that it's pivotal to choose a formation that suits the squad, rather than vice versa. There's plenty of firepower in this side to get after Champions League football, and it's at St. James' Park that you'll get it done.
The flat back four will rely on the industry of Tiote & Anita to get the ball forward to the front men. In any save that I've played, Ben Arfa, Cisse & Ba are lethal, invariably ending up at bigger clubs before retirement.
Formation - Away
Here's where it can all go pear shaped. Whilst it's easy to remain loyal to your settled tactics, at Newcastle you have the capability to cripple the front lines of Man Utd, City & Chelsea.
Dan Gosling comes into the midfield to bolster the numbers. The season ending 'interceptions' chart usually feature a number of the Newcastle midfield amongst the leaders. The Poacher & AMC work together to hoover up enough away points to challenge at the top of the league.
This tactic is reliable enough to expect 7-8 away wins from 19 games, with the possibility for 6-7 draws on top.
There's a few directions you can choose to go here, but in my view there's some essential sales to bring the wage bill down.
Xisco - £2.5m Remember Xisco? There's a picture of him below. He's back on Tyneside this season and so is his £50k p/w contract. The good news is that Huddersfield are desperate to part with their Jordan Rhodes money, and can be relied upon to give you £2.5m for Xisco.
It's only fair that I mention that Xisco can actually score a few goals, but you just don't need him. Usually you'll need to keep paying an element of his wages, but just be glad to get rid of him.
James Perch - £5m
As a Newcastle fan I respect Perchinho in real life, but he's rank in FM 13. Known for his versatility, all you need to know here is you'll get £5m on day one. Bearing in mind you'll train other players to cover, Perch is surplus to requirements.
Danny Simpson - £5m
Controversially Danny Simpson seems to have been underrated by the FM 13 devs. Ability & potential of 2.5 stars, he should be at least a solid 3.0.
That being said, both Ryan Taylor & Simpson aren't good enough. Simpson commands the higher fee which you'll need for a replacement. Nathaniel Clyne & Timothy Chandler are fairly cheap, selling Simpson gives you the means.
Both Ameobi's are underrated here, and both have to go. It's hard to get a fee for Sammy as Championship sides prefer a loan deal, but Udinese fancy Shola. Pull the trigger and get him off the wage bill. That £26k p/w is best spent elsewhere.
Shola Ameobi - £2.5m
Steve Harper - £200kThe fee's small but the £30k p/w isn't. A classy servant and consumate pro, but let him be those things in the Championship. Jak Alnwick is a capable understudy.
Troublemaker par excellence. This guy's a shambles, both in game and reality. A bigger locker room cancer than the NWO, he's got to go.
Nile Ranger - £875k
Jonas Gutierrez - £11m
The big one here is Gutierrez. Scandalously underrated as a defensive winger, his attributes are awful. Fulham usually part with £10-11m on day one, take it and buy a far better replacement for half the cost.
Bearing in mind you've got a class starting eleven, you're going to need depth. Everyone's got their favourites, but after playing until season 7, I feel I've got first hand experience on who can put a shift in.
Simon Kjaer - £3.8m
He should never have went to Wolfsburg in the first place. Once the golden boy of young European central defenders, Wolfsburg are prepared to cut their losses. Suffering a similar career dip to Daniel Agger, he can be relied upon to average a 7.4 for the season. A steal.
Wellington Nem - £3.5mAnother obvious one. Needs time to settle though. Play him as Ben Arfa's understudy for 18 months and he'll be fully acclimatised. This is a win win, I eventually sold Nem for £24m, once he stole Ben Arfa's place.
Buy this guy, but don't expect immediate results. Patience.
Adryan - £875kI like the versatility of this lad. Whilst you won't need him for the AMC spot (Ben Arfa, Nem), he can add diversity to the CM spot. Like all South Americans, he'll need a solid 18 months in England to find his feet, but a great first season bench option if you need to change a game.
Ademilson - £5.25mAs a poacher this guy can play from day one. A South American baller, this guy can become elite. He's not a priority purchase due to Cisse & Ba, but he's great for added squad depth.
The only caveat is Adam Campbell needs experience, and he gets good later on.
Players To Avoid
Alan Dzagoev - £0 (Jan 2013)The guy's more trouble than he's worth. Even though he's a Bosman, he's better suited to join Everton once they lose Fellaini.
He'll only join Newcastle as a starter, but he disrupts the balance of the side. Plus he takes well over a year to produce his best football in England.
Tiote, Anita & Cabaye play well as a unit, supplemented by Adryan & Gosling. Gael Bigirimana trains on well. Dzagoev demands a big wage and frankly doesn't warrant it.
Like most Premiership teams there are a few gems in the Under 18's, with Adam Campbell being the crown jewel. You'll need to get him some games though. Loaning Campbell out sees his Potential Ability slowly wither.
A decent first season for Campbell would be starting a few cup games (Europa, Carling, FA Cup...plenty of options), in addition to coming off the bench. 6 starts and 8-10 sub appearances will be decent progression.
Gael Bigirimana is useful too. The game isn't exactly rammed full of quality defensive midfielders, so this guy will be important in away games. He trains quickly and will be a decent sell after 3-4 seasons.
Finally Remie Streete is a great prospect, but can't be trusted to develop as quickly as Campbell or Bigirimana. Lacking the all important determination to become elite, Streete is decent cover for the first few seasons. He won't become the next John Terry, but you'll get decent money for him one day.
Urgent Contract Renewals
You can't mess around here. Demba Ba has a £7m release clause that needs attention. On day one he'll resign for around £62k p/w and a new clause of £33m. Take the deal, because the longer you leave it the worse those figures get.
Adam Campbell is also vulnerable. If you go past the first week then Man Utd usually snap him up. Newcastle are his favourite club so he'll always resign on the first day.
Fast Forward 5 Seasons
At this stage it's fair to ask what can be expected of this squad?
Demba Ba & Cisse are proven goalscorers. With Cisse as Poacher and Ba as the Advanced Forward, both can grab over 20 league goals a season. If the defence knits together early then Champions League football should be easy enough to grab.
The smart move here is to wait until the decent regens spawn then sell the strikers for big money. Newcastle have terrible revenue streams so it's required to sell a big star every so often. Ba goes for over £20m, with Cisse sometimes for over £30m.
The holy trinity of Cabaye, Tiote & Anita are all stars. They contribute from the outset and eventually go for over £20m each. Anita always outperforms the others and goes for the biggest fee.
The star of the defence is undoubtedly Davide Santon. Tremendous all round attributes mean he's terrific as an attacking full back. Regularly goes for over £20m in later seasons.
However the others are a let down. Coloccini's wages are too high at £80k p/w, so I sell him quickly. Ryan Taylor, Steven Taylor & Williamson are dreadful, and quickly fall down the depth chart.
Tim Krul's a stud and should be kept unless you receive a silly bid. I eventually accepted £33m from Dortmund which I used to buy a phenomenal regen. You'll need some decent cover, but Krul can be relied upon in the hardest of fixtures.