Newcastle United won the 2016-17 Championship title that secured their promotion to the Premier League. On their return to the Premier League, Rafael Benitez’s men secured a top-10 finish. It is a fantastic achievement considering the squad Benitez had at his disposal.
After a campaign in which fending off relegation was the main aim, Benitez achieved something which hardly anyone would have expected.
After losing their opening two Premier League matches following promotion, it looked as if the Magpies will be embroiled in a relegation battle. However, Benitez showed why he is rated as one of the most tactically astute managers and did the unthinkable.
The question now arises – can Newcastle achieve a top-10 finish for the second successive year running?
As long as Benitez is at the helm, there is a genuine feeling among the fans that the Magpies can do it again. Despite a difficult transfer window, Benitez managed to get the best out of his players.
Following a mammoth top-10 finish, Benitez would hope he gets enough funds to strengthen his squad and make them ready for the new season.
However, the summer transfer window is unlikely to pass without Mike Ashley-Rafael Benitez war of words which could hamper transfer dealings but the Spanish manager will somehow find a plan to attain success.
The top-6 from this term – Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal, look likely to repeat a similar feat this time around, although perhaps in a slightly different order. Burnley were a surprise package this term and will play in the Europa League, hence you cannot keep Sean Dyche’s men away from the action.
The Magpies are some way off the pace compared to the 5th place spot they landed in the 2011/12 season under Alan Pardew. But the current squad is neither short of quality nor potential; it just needs arrival of few players that would provide the much-needed boost and energy to make them ready again for the big fight.
But, as remarkable an achievement as finishing 10th is for Newcastle, Benitez must ensure his players keep their feet on the ground.
It is obvious, therefore, that the need for transfers is more important than Benitez’s personal situation. Quality additions are indeed needed but Benitez’s bond with Ashley has been less than stable, unlike his bond with the fans which has been superb.
Regardless of a sensational achievement this season, Benitez’s priority again will be surpassing the 40-point mark. Making the next big step needs financial backing, which looks highly improbable as long as Ashley is in charge of the club.
However, with an organised tactician such as Benitez at the helm, Newcastle fans can again hope for the repeat of the 2017/18 season.