Newcastle United – The Season in Review

The final day of last season saw Newcastle United secure another campaign in the top division of English football with a 2-0 win over West Ham United. After this near-miss with relegation, the club’s owner Mike Ashley admitted to Sky Sports that he took responsibility for the Toon Army’s predicament and promised a new era at St James Park.

Fast forward twelve months and it is hard to see what has changed, only that this time there may be no reprieve for the Magpies who are currently slumped in 19th place. The ill-fated managerial appointment of Steve McClaren proved to be a calamity with the former Middlesbrough and England boss winning just eight of his 31 games in all competitions.

Newcastle may well lament that it took them until March to terminate the Yorkshireman’s employment with the club, as it has left his successor Rafa Benitez with little margin for error if he is to lift them from the doldrums of the drop zone.

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The summer indicated that there could be positive change with considerable amounts of money being paid out to bring the likes of Georginio Wijnaldum and Anderlecht striker Aleksandar Mitrovic to the North-East. This combined with their fanatical and sizeable fanbase should have seen the Magpies pushing in the upper echelons of the Premier League. Many bookies didn’t have them to be in a relegation fight with the Premier League predictions at thatsagoal.com at the start of the season predicting a high mid table finish.

Described recently as “possibly the worst team that ever played in the Premier League” by Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas, the Toon Army will need their new manager to inspire another Instanbul miracle if he is to save them from the trapdoor.

The Spaniard is used to overseeing his sides challenge for major honours and it is difficult to argue with his accomplishments at Anfield or the Estadio de Mestalla. However, he is stepping into unfamiliar territory by taking on a team faced with such an arduous task.

Their run-in is far from simple, although Geordie icon Alan Shearer believes last Saturday’s much needed 3-0 win over Swansea and Tuesday night’s hard-fought point at home to Manchester City has given the players renewed vigour. “There is a now a little bit of hope where there wasn’t a few weeks ago,” Shearer told BBC Radio 5 live.

With time rapidly evaporating, it remains to be seen if the Magpies can complete another great escape mission. They may well live to regret not acquiring the tactical nous of Benitez earlier in the season – if they had they would certainly be in a much stronger position than they are now.

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