Survival was the ultimate goal for Rafa Benitez and the players of Newcastle United this season, and not many people gave them much of a chance of achieving it. With a relatively similar squad to their Championship winning side and a serious lack of investment, the transfer window didn’t change many minds.
The first half of the season went pretty much as expected as Rafa’s side struggled to cope with the pressures of the Premier League. They picked up just five wins from their first 19 games, leaving the club treacherously close to the drop zone. There was even a point in the season where Newcastle hadn’t won at home for three whole months.
Christmas came and went once more, and it was somewhat of a changing point for the Toon Army. Wins against West Ham and Stoke set the club on the way to a four month period and 13 game spell that would see only two losses; one to the Premier League champions Manchester City, and another to the Champions League finalists Liverpool.
The loan signings of winger Kenedy from Chelsea and goalkeeper Martin Dubravka from Sparta Prague brought a real spark to the club. Kenedy’s performances lit up St James’ Park time and again while Dubravka proved to be a real stalwart between the sticks. They helped guide Newcastle to some fantastic wins against the likes of Manchester United, Southampton and Arsenal.
It was that last one, the Arsenal game that eventually did what nobody thought Newcastle could do this year as they reached that magical 40 point mark. Newcastle defied all expectations and not only stayed up, but clinched survival with six games to spare and finished comfortably in mid-table.
This is a season to behold for the Magpies and definitely one that everybody involved with the club should be immensely proud of. The squad and the coaching staff have done an incredible job of getting the whole city to pull together and rally around their team. It was that passion and desire that made sure Newcastle United will be in the Premier League once again next season.