Newcastle fans have endured the ultimate rollercoaster ride of emotions in the Premier League era.
The Magpies have gone from challenging for the title with Manchester United to more recent relegations, including last season’s descent into the Championship.
Life is certainly never dull for the Toon Army and next season everybody connected with the north east club will be looking for their team to make an immediate return to the top-flight.
The key was keeping Rafa Benitez
There was no doubt that the arrival of Rafa Benitez at St James Park saw an improvement in the team’s fortunes last season. Unfortunately for the Magpies, the Spaniard’s arrival came too late to prevent relegation.
Very little blame for the club’s eventual demise could be laid at the former Real Madrid bosses door to be fair. His predecessor Steve McClaren created a mess that even Winston Wolf would have struggled to clear up.
Benitez came into a sinking ship and attempted to steady it. Unfortunately, it had already taken on too much water and was heading down.
The Newcastle hierarchy has done sterling work to persuade the Spaniard to stay at the club despite relegation. Keeping Rafa could well be the key to the Magpies going up in the new season.
A big shift in personnel
Relegation has seen much change in the playing personnel at St James Park. The likes Andros Townsend and Georginio Wijnaldum were good players, but their loss was inevitable after relegation.
However, there are a few more that have contributed to the team being poor in the past couple of seasons that have departed.
One area of the team that has been poor for the past few seasons is the centre of defence, marshalled by captain calamity Fabricio Coloccini. The Argentinian has returned home to San Lorenzo and for me it not a season too soon.
Some would defend the centre-back, but the fact is Newcastle have been poor in defence for a long time. Coloccini has been constant in that defence. Another player who has been stealing his wages in the last few seasons has been hos fellow centre-back Steven Taylor.
The 30-year-old was highly injury-prone and although he tried hard, he just never quite convinced as a Premier League defender. He had good moments, but it was probably the right time for him to move on.
Senegalese striker Papiss Cisse arrived in a blaze of goals for the Magpies, firing home 13 Premier League goals in just half a season in 2012 following his January arrival from Freiburg.
The striker never quite hit those sorts of scoring levels again and becoming increasingly frustrating in front of goal. Last season the 30-year-old was criticised for a perceived lack of effort for his team. A switch to Chinese football with Shandong Luneng came as little surprise in the end.
The three aforementioned players cannot take the blame for the club’s relegation. However, they were part of the problem at Newcastle. The team had become stale and almost accepted underachievement.
The arrival of the likes Matt Ritchie, Dwight Gayle, Jesus Gamez and Grant Hanley will hopefully change the losing mentality. It will hopefully bring freshness to the team and lift the fans spirits.
Have to be favourites for promotion
Newcastle still has a lot of quality in their squad and they have a stellar boss in Benitez. The likes of Aleksandar Mitrovic, Ayoze Perez and Moussa Sissoko have shown their quality in flashes in the Premier League and will no doubt be keen to impress in the second tier if of course, they stay at the club.
Understandably the Magpies are favourites for promotion at odds of 7/4 and it is difficult to argue with those odds. The Championship is a highly competitive league, but Newcastle will be confident of winning promotion in the new season.
The north east side kick-off their Championship campaign on Friday night with a trip to Fulham. A good start is vital for the Magpies, but if the new players can click with the quality players already in the squad then Newcastle will be hard to stop next season.
Will Newcastle be promoted at the first time of asking?