Newcastle United head into the new season as underdogs, many will predict the club to be in a relegation battle. It is a stark contrast to last season where the expectation to bounce straight back was monumental.
In the Championship Newcastle were the biggest scalp, every team would raise their game against Rafael Benitez’s side. England’s second tier is a long hard slog of a season, it makes or breaks players. Only the mentally and physically strong survive the grueling schedule of the Championship. Many underestimate just how hard the division is, Benitez didn’t he did his research and built a squad capable of returning to the Premier League as champions.
Being underdogs is not such a bad thing, there will be less pressure on the players to win every game. Although Benitez’s high standards and winning mentality is pressure in itself. The opposition travelling to St James’ Park won’t treat the game as their cup final as they did last season. Newcastle players will have a bit more freedom, Jonjo Shelvey rightly said he will no longer be man marked every game. That provides huge benefits for Newcastle, Shelvey will be able to dictate the game, without being shackled by the opposition.
Being written off by so many before the season starts, also brings a stronger attitude within the squad to prove all the doubters wrong. A lot of the Newcastle players already have a point to prove, being underestimated and written off will make them even more hungry to succeed. Furthermore, there’s the World Cup next summer, the likes of Jonjo Shelvey, Isaac Hayden and Dwight Gayle will all be eager to impress Gareth Southgate.
People writing Newcastle off have their right to do so, it will certainly not be an easy season for the club. However, last season the Premier League ended with an incredible six points between Southampton in eighth and Watford in seventeenth. There is a huge opportunity for Newcastle to finish in the top half of the table. Having said that, getting to the 40 points mark and survival is the main objective this season.
“We have to follow and support the team. If they’re not doing well, criticise, but not during games, after”. It is important that there is a sense of togetherness, not only amongst the players but the fans too. That is something Benitez is working hard to achieve, he has worked incredibly hard to keep the negativity at bay. Having that sense of togetherness and unity will be vital this season, by the end of the campaign the club, staff, players and fans will have proved the doubters wrong.
Message to the Fans
There seems to be a lot of negativity flying around this summer. Some fans concerned about the transfer window, others concerned about Benitez’s future. The fact is only five teams have signed more players than Newcastle in the Premier League this summer. Benitez is happy at the club, that is in large part down to all of you, the fans. The team may not have big names but that doesn’t mean they will struggle. Benitez wouldn’t be at this club if he didn’t think he could achieve his targets this season. The club is in good shape under Benitez, we are back where we belong. St James’ Park is becoming a fortress once again, thanks to Gallowgate flags and Wor Hyem 1892. It is important that every team that travels to our wonderful stadium feels intimidated, the fans play a huge part in that.
There will be tough times this season but that is when the fans are needed most, the atmosphere inside St James’ was incredible at times last season. We need that at every home game this season.
The club is getting stronger by the day under Benitez, the longer he stays the closer we are to success.
GRAEME BELL – FOLLOW GRAEME ON @GraemeBell_NUFC
Gallowgate Flags Needs YOU! Next Post:
true faith – Radio La Marca interview with Mikel Merino