Back in May 2009, Newcastle United suffered heartache and misery has they were relegated from the Premier League. Their all-time hero, Alan Shearer, was the man in charge at the time and, along with the thousands of Geordie fans, was paralysed by the shock of relegation.
For years, Newcastle had enjoyed their time in England’s top division. Back in the 1996-1997 season, Kevin Keegan’s men almost clinched the title, before Fergie’s troops pinched it from underneath their noses. 12 years after this nail-biting finale, Newcastle were facing Championship football the following season. Many football writers alike wrote Newcastle off after this dreaded outcome. The Championship was certainly not an easy division to escape from- but, escape they did.
Chris Hughton was the man who led Newcastle straight back to the Premier League in their first season in the Championship. The Geordies strolled through the 46 games and comfortably took the title, collecting 102 points along the way- losing just 4 games. Newcastle were officially back in business, their time away from the Premier League was a short one, but is one they will learn from immensely.
The following season, Newcastle finished a respectable 12th place in their first season back in the Premier League. During this season, Hughton was unfairly sacked by owner, Mike Ashley, after the owner believed the club needed a change in manager. Unfairly is definitely a correct way of putting the sacking, however, this was the turning point for Newcastle United and their fans- the revolution began.
Alan Pardew stepped into the job as one of the biggest surprises in Newcastle United’s history. Mike Ashley always suggested that himself and the board would appoint a ‘big name’ manager who would undoubtedly bring success to the club, and out of the greatest of respect to Pardew, he certainly was no ‘big name.’ However, the ‘not so big name’ appointment paid off. Last season, Pardew led the Geordies on the brink of a Champions League finish, their fans were in dreamland.
Throughout the season, Pardew had made several key signings. The January signing of, Papiss Cisse, was an inspiration. The Senegalese stiker scored 13 goals in 14 appearances in his debut season in the black and white shirt. Ironically, Cisse was given the famous No.9 shirt which so many Newcastle legends had worn. This, however, did not faze him in the slightest. As well as Cisse, at the start of the season, Pardew signed another Senegalese striker, Demba Ba, on a free transfer. Between the two, they managed to score 29 of Newcastle’s 51 goals in the Premier League- more than half of their overall goal tally.
Newcastle eventually finished the season in 5th place, just 4 points behind 4th place and that desirable Champions League spot. However, with Chelsea winning the Champions League, a place for Newcastle was more unlikely, nonetheless, the Geordies can be proud of their season and the revolution which took place.
The question is, what lies waiting for Newcastle this season? With the expectancy and the pressure to succeed this season, Newcastle will face a difficult task in mirroring their achievements last season. But with more signings expected to arrive at St. James’ Park in the summer, Newcastle will as ready as ever to reaching their full potential as a football club. The Europa League will bring a busy schedule to Newcastle’s calendar, but if an adequate amount of players are brought in and if the quality of players remain at the club, then there is no reason why Newcastle can’t challenge for a Champions League spot again this season.