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Despite Winning The Championship, Newcastle United Would Regret On These Two Things

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Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez

Newcastle’s Two Biggest Regrets This Season

To be fair, Newcastle United can’t have too many regrets right now. They have been promoted back to the Premier League at the first time of asking and all is well right now at St. James’ Park. The fans in Newcastle are notoriously loyal but in return for that loyalty, they demand commitment and quality.

That quality is relative, i.e. if they play in the Championship it is not possible to see Champions League players in the team. Piling their hard earned money into the club again and again via regular 50,000+ crowds and lots of merchandise being bought means that they wanted to finish the season as champions.

Newcastle go into the Premier League as Champions, thanks to Brighton’s result. However, in a turnaround season for NUFC, what are their two biggest regrets?

Not Adding To The Squad In January

After a slow start, Newcastle began to motor in mid-August, winning 13 of their next 15 games to take top spot and control of the league by November. Another run of 11 games without a defeat came between January and March but, predictably, the true depth of the squad began to show when injuries and suspensions came along.

With key figures such as Isaac Hayden, Dwight Gayle and Ciaran Clark spending significant spells on the sidelines (something which did not happen to Brighton), the Toon began to lose ground. A run of 3 defeats and 3 draws from 9 games basically handed control of the division to Brighton, before Clark’s return influenced 2 good wins against Preston and Cardiff.

Rafa was desperate to sign players in January; Andros Townsend was a subject of heavy interest but the deal collapsed. The lack of reinforcements in January didn’t affect only their league form; it also meant yet another year of sacrificing a good FA Cup run. Benitez, correctly in hindsight, could not risk his top players at Oxford and his side crashed out of the cup embarrassingly.

Their Home Form

St James’ Park was formerly a fortress. Nobody use to feel comfortable arriving there as an away side, but in the Championship that’s not been the case. It must be remembered that at the risk of being patronising, a lot of players at that level treat going to St. James’ Park like a cup final. A beautiful pitch (technically the best natural grass pitch in England), the huge stands and the big reputation, mean that visiting players save their very best form for these games.

These points should have been forced onto the NUFC players to ensure that they treat these games the same way, but all too often, their form at home has been disappointing. Fully, 8 teams have conceded fewer home goals than Newcastle this season, while the Toon have the best defensive record away home. That’ll need to change next season.