It was another season of disappointment for fans up in the North East who endured hard times yet again. It seems like a lifetime since the heady days of Kevin Keegan and marauding attacking football that might have delivered them the Premier League title. The record signing of Alan Shearer in 1996, bought as an effort to do battle with the dominant force at the time, Manchester United, delivered a lot of entertaining times but not so much on the trophy front.
These days, The Magpies seem to be quite content in avoiding relegation to the Championship. Which has happened twice in recent times, 2009 and 2016 being the latest examples of their plunge down a division. To be fair, they were promoted on both occasions at their first attempt, winning Championship titles in the process. With a huge fan base, they seem like a big club to be always hovering around the wrong end of the table. Odds on Newcastle being relegated at sites like kaszinó are usually pretty generous and stranger things have happened.
How did they Finish?
Newcastle’s form has been quite patchy, yet the energy and determination always seem to be there. Their stadium is usually packed with fans, so their absence may have hindered their home form a little this year as ongoing restrictions continued to affect football. At one point about two months ago, it was felt that Newcastle were being drawn into another relegation battle. Following an away loss to lowly Brighton, who emphatically beat them 3-0, punters and fans alike had them tipped for relegation.
But Newcastle responded strongly to criticism from all directions to finish 12th, almost twenty points ahead of Fulham, their opponent on the final day of the season. Victory in that game was their fifth win in the past eight games at which point they were safe anyway, with Fulham occupying the last relegation spot. However, finishing ten points behind Aston Villa of 11th place, it was more a case of best of the rest scenario.
Will they Stick with their Manager?
Steve Bruce has been at the helm of Newcastle United for around two years now. In that time he has seen more lows than highs and has had to deal with a lot of criticism, both professionally and personally. An unpopular appointment at the time due to the fans’ adulation of his predecessor Rafa Benitez, opinions are still split about Bruce. Although he played for the club in the past, it is a long time ago and he is not spoken about in such revered tones as others.
Again, all this counts for little as it is his managerial skills the fans are interested in. Having managed at a host of different clubs at varying levels,he has not had the most successful club management career. Being relegated twice from the Premier League, with Birmingham and Hull City, in 2006 and 2015 respectively, would not exactly fill any club’s fans full of confidence. It’s little wonder that if a better option becomes available, they may have to look into changing the manager.
Who Could Go There?
This season has seen a huge buzz of activity in the manager merry go round of the Premier League. Big jobs have become available due to managers simply moving on or in some cases wishing to have a break from the game. Managers that have been out of work are being considered, who may actually be waiting for an opportunity like this to arrive. So who could improve on Steve Bruce’s so called drab uninspired football?
Eddie Howe, previously at Bournemouth, is known for stylish attacking football. However, not so good at defending, his side were relegated and he decided to leave. The former Wolves manager Nuno Espírito Santo is also being linked, yet appears to be linked with a host of vacant jobs. Scott Parker, Frank Lampard , Chris Wilder are all names who have managed at the top but would they take Newcastle any further. It’s been said Rafa Benitez feels he has some unfinished business at the club, which would please the fans to no end.
What About the Players?
As with most clubs there’s always room for improvement and Newcastle are no different. Transfer budgets have varied at Newcastle over the years, with big name signings sometimes sanctioned to appease the hordes of grumbling supporters. These have not always worked out and Steve Bruce is known for trying to be careful with funds. Yet his 20 million purchase of Bournemouth striker Callum Wilso seems to have paid off handsomely. Still only 28, his experience in the Premier League may prove invaluable over the coming years.
One player on every Newcastle fan’s lips is Arsenal youngster Joe Willock. Only joining Newcastle during the winter transfer window on a loan deal to boost his experience of playing in the Premier League, Willock has been an absolute revelation at the club. Considering Arsenal’s struggles, they will be happy to have him back within their ranks for next season. Yet, rumours abound that Willock really enjoyed Newcastle and that they are preparing a bid to try and prise him away permanently. In a club where good news does not come regularly, this is the one that the fans would love to hear.
The Euros and Copa America could possibly extend the season even longer for some of the Newcastle players this year, in what already has been a tumultuous time due to the spread of Covid-19 throughout the world affecting sport.
Hopefully, no injuries or illnesses are suffered which would give them a distinct disadvantage straight away. The good thing about these International tournaments is that some possible signings may pop up. Just like playing an intriguing game of online poker, it’s hard to say what will happen.
Who may be in charge to oversee all this is still unsure, with the owner Mike Ashley seemingly a fan of the unflappable Steve Bruce. Despite the fans baying for change, he has stood by him. Although the reasons may be debatable, as it is certainly not for his silky style of football, even Bruce must know it would be hard to achieve much more than he has with the players at his disposal. While he has done a sterling job in keeping them in the Premier League, that is clearly not enough to satisfy most of the fans and they may yet have the final say.