Newcastle's starlets showed plenty of bravery during their loss to reigning Premier League Champions Manchester City, says Graeme Souness.
Alan Pardew's side slipped to a 2-0 defeat on Super Sunday, with David Silva (38) and Sergio Aguero (90) doing the damage, but there were plenty of positives for the Magpies, according to Souness.
The former Newcastle boss was impressed by United's youthful attackers, including starting pair Emmanuel Riviere and Remy Cabella and substitutes Ayoze Perez and Rolando Aarons.
Souness told Sky Sports that the St James' Park side could be in line for a successful campaign – but says they are unlikely to challenge for the Champions League spots without substantial strengthening.
"I always thought from my time managing Newcastle that you needed big personalities in the team because there is a lot of the pressure and the crowd get frustrated having not won anything for a while," he said.
"But these young lads showed real courage to come into the game and deal with that pressure – and if it stays like that they have a real chance because they are not without quality.
"They could be a very big football club and one that gets into the Champions League on a regular basis, but to do that you are talking about a quantum leap in transfer fees and salaries.
"That would be a hell of a financial commitment to take them from where they are now – a club that might have a decent cup run and might get in the top seven or eight – into the top four."
Manchester City's squad depth was made clear on Sunday when they were able to bring Aguero and Fernandinho off the bench and leave Pablo Zabaleta and Jesus Navas warming it.
Souness makes Manuel Pellegrini's charges favourites, ahead of Chelsea, to win the title this year, but says they must show commitment in every game to claim a third Premier League crown in four seasons.
And he also believes that Liverpool, despite overcoming a spirited Southampton side 2-1 in Super Sunday's first encounter, will find last term's second place hard to repeat following the high-profile departure of Luis Suarez to Barcelona.
"City are a big scalp and possibly the biggest game of the year for a lot of Premier League players," said Souness, who won five top-flight titles with Liverpool in the 1970s and '80s.
"So City players cannot pick and choose when they give 100 per cent and every time they set foot on the field they must realise the challenge that is coming their way.
"The bigger games take care of themselves with players trying to prove they are the best in their position in the division, but against the lesser teams they have to be bang up for it as that's when you win the title year after year."
On Liverpool, Souness added: "There was some nice football against Southampton but they missed Suarez – and I think we will be saying that a lot this season when they have lots of the ball but don't end up scoring lots of goals.
"Any team will miss a player of his quality because he nicks goals from nothing and you don't have to play well to win games – and whether it's at the start of the season, the middle of it or the end, Liverpool will feel him not being there."