I love how the table looks at the start of a new season:
Anything could happen.
We could have a season like last year's, in which case I'll be content with maintaining our "current" position (13th!). Or we could undergo a second Keegan revolution and storm the top of the table, ending up in European competition next year. I will obviously be delighted if this actually happens, but I won't be holding my breath... especially since our first game is away to Man Utd on Sunday. I fear another season of agony may be in store for us long-suffering Magpies.
NB a brief description of the system for readers who are more used to a North American-style playoff system:
Each team in the league plays each other twice, once at each venue. The team at the top of the table at the end of the season is the winner, end of story. This title is the biggest prize in English football. The top four or so* teams qualify for the Champions' League, the most prestigious European club competition. The next two or three* qualify for the UEFA cup, a less prestigious European club competition. The bottom three clubs are relegated to a lower division for the next season, and are replaced with the three best teams in the next league down. This shuffling happens at the top and bottom of every English league, of which there are many. I think that North American sports would be greatly enhanced by introducing a similar promotion and relegation system.
There are also two separate domestic cup competitions. Both are open to clubs at all levels, including amateur sides, although small clubs have to go through qualification round whereas the big clubs join at a later stage. Anyone can be drawn against anyone, with each game being a one-off knock-out game. The FA Cup is the more prestigious of the two cup competitions.
*actual numbers can be different each year, and I can't be bothered to look up this year's allocations. The numbers partially depend on the success of teams from that country in previous European competitions, so the bigger English, Italian, Spanish and German leagues send more teams than, say, Scotland or Greece.