Here we are again Lads: the end of the Premier League season. Thankfully, Newcastle United don’t find themselves languishing in the dark depths of the relegation zone like in the 15/16 season. But bloody hell it was precarious and scary at times.
LLWWWLDDWLLLLDLLLLWLDWDLDDWDLWWWWLLLL makes 37 games, 11 wins, 8 draws, and 18 losses. With Premier League safety guaranteed in recent weeks, Rafa Benitez’s man can look back on the season as a success.
So, let’s go through the main talking points of an often painstaking, sometimes jubilant season we had.
The Season got off to normal expectations, losing to Tottenham 2-0 in a game marred by the sending off of Jonjo Shelvey whilst Dele Alli only worsened his reputation (as vindictive Liverpool fans made him regret later in the season thanks to some…interesting content on his iCloud). Spurs are a funny team; despite running riot in their Champions League group, they got knocked out in the last 16, failed to win any major trophies, and yet Keeper Hugo Lloris stated that qualifying for the Champions League “means more than a trophy”. I believe the French word you’re looking for everybody is “pot d’étain”. Absolute banter club.
The side began to build moment in September and October, with a notable victory coming against a dire West Ham; a team we would have expected to be challenging for mid-table and not be caught in a relegation dogfight. Then, like my bank account at Christmas, things began to take a turn for the worse. The phrase ‘Take the L’ has become increasingly used to describe a poor performance, well Newcastle took 8 Ls in 9 games. The new year didn’t bring about much good luck either, as Amanda Staveley’s plans to buy Newcastle United from the FCB Dictator himself Mike Ashley fell through in mid-January, much to the ire of Toon Supporters. Speculation began to rise as to whether or not Rafa Benitez would stay in his job if he did not have the full financial backing from Ashley like he had received at Liverpool (you know, Champions League winning Liverpool).
The Winter lull that Newcastle had endured however merely proved to be a hibernation of a much stronger team. Adding goalkeeper Martin Dubravka to the side, things began to turn in February. The game with Manchester United was to be a vital showcase for just how well the Magpies could perform at home and under pressure from the Fans. Mo Diame proclaimed himself as the Senegalese Vieria by dominating the play against Paul Pogba, M-Dubbz made a fine debut, and Gordon Ramsay lookalike Matt Ritchie all contributed to a shock 1-0 win against Jose Mourinho’s side. When you see Benitez put his glasses in his pocket, you know it’s a job well done.
Wins and losses. Triumphs and sorrows. Celebratory pints and consolation ones too. If that doesn’t epitomise being a supporter of a mid-table team, then I don’t know what else does. As I write this on the eve of Newcastle’s final fixture of the 17/18 season (at home to a Chelsea side needing a win), I find it best to look back on the past season in a positive light. Despite dismal domestic Cup runs, terrible transfer windows, and lists of losses consistently dampening the mood on the Tyne, one cannot deny the strong effort the team has made in a return to the Prem following last year’s Championship triumph. With the World Cup on the horizon, the most we Newcastle fans can hope for is some representation on the national stage to make the 17/18 season a success.