Usually when a new year begins it’s not the greatest of times to be a Newcastle United fan. It’s often a case of hoping they can earn enough points to stay out of the Premier League relegation zone. Not this time though, United are dreaming of qualifying for the Champions League.

If you had to name an English club that didn’t want the World Cup break, Newcastle United would top the list. They had won five consecutive league games before everyone’s attention turned to the 2022 World Cup.

They’d extended their unbeaten league run to 10 games and were in third place only seven points behind leaders Arsenal. A game more has been played by them but they are only 33/1 to win the Premier League. It’s a long time since their odds have been that short.

More importantly, Newcastle are four points clear of fifth place. Again rivals have a game in hand but points in the bag are worth so much. That’s particularly the case when most teams still have 24 league games to play.

According to sports betting portal Daily Stock, the United are 11/8 to finish in the top four and play in the 2023/24 Champions League. The last time odds like that were on offer was when Kevin Keegan was their manager.

When Newcastle United were taken over last season, their fans began to dream of winning titles and playing in the Champions League. They had a strong second half to last season and did so without spending an absolute fortune in the transfer market.

Good quality players have been signed but no superstars have made their way to Newcastle. One of their best signings has been that of Kieran Trippier who has greatly improved their defense.

The best signing though has been that of Eddie Howe as their manager. He’s changed the atmosphere at the club far more than millions of pounds have and revitalized players such as Almiron and Joelinton.

Only one of their first seven Premier league games this season. A form guide for the last 10 league matches has them in second place, earning just a point less than Arsenal. When the Premier League season resumes, United have to get off to a good start.

They travel to Leicester City on Boxing Day and are 5/4 to return home with all three points. A home game against Leeds United follows on New Year’s Eve to end 2022. The new year begins with a massive match for United. They travel to the Emirates to face Arsenal and that should show us just what they are capable of.

With a home game against Fulham and a trip to Crystal Palace, the rest of January could be a lot more difficult for Newcastle.

What will they do in the January transfer window? Howe will have targets but he’s again likely to go for players who know the Premier League well. It’s unlikely many World Cup stars will be heading to Newcastle in January. United have already proved that their policy is one that works.