Viva la Rafalucion!

Newcastle United have had more than their fair share of ups and downs in recent times; from despair at being relegated at the end of the 2008/09 season, to jubilation at securing automatic promotion within a year after only 41 games in the Championship. Nowadays, fortunes on Tyneside are on the up once again and the future’s looking bright.

Since rejoining the Premier League the managerial decisions have been somewhat questionable. Alan Pardew replaced the widely popular Chris Hughton- much to the dismay of many supporters- and went on to have a tumultuous relationship with results and fans alike. Upon Pardew’s withdrawal from Newcastle to coach former club Crystal Palace, his assistant John Carver was appointed as interim manager until the end of the season.

During his reign Carver achieved a meagre 3 wins, and lost what little faith the Geordies had in him to start with. In June 2015 Steve McClaren was brought in as the new head coach on the back of his sacking from Derby county- another decision the supporters were less than enthusiastic about.

When the club finally decided to part ways with McClaren in March, they had lined up none other than former Real Madrid boss Rafael Benitez- a miraculous appointment considering the established manager’s stature, and Newcastle’s predicament at 19th in the table. Despite ending the season in the relegation zone, the team had started to look more organised and confident in themselves; bowing out of the premier league with a 5-1 home win against Spurs.

Currently, Newcastle sit atop the Championship table on 31 points- 4 better at this stage than their last stint at this level- and they don’t look like budging. Tuesday night marked another momentous occasion on which they secured quarter-finalist status in the EFL Cup, after a 6-0 hammering of Preston North End at St James’. The cup fixture was the Magpies’ sixth straight win in all competitions, and second with a 6-0 scoreline: something no one would’ve dreamt of under the previous three managers.

While Newcastle may be enjoying this glory, there is a point that they have been bookies’ favourites to get promotion from the start so their success isn’t all that surprising. We’re only partway through the season and there are still many games to come in which a lot could change, but hopefully they will get promoted one way or another and then the real test of the manager and players can begin.

Mr. Benitez won the hearts of the faithful Geordies when he took on the challenge of reforming the club in a difficult situation, and plaudits them as being the reason he stayed despite relegation. Without fail every game his name rings around the stadium- whether that be home or away. He’s reunited supporters with their love of the club they’ve watched crumble for the past five years, and he certainly won’t be forgotten for it.

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