Rafael Benitez

Newcastle Rescue Themselves

Newcastle have rescued themselves from relegation for the second consecutive year. Last year it was an improbable home win against Manchester United. This year it was an even more improbable win against a red hot Manchester City. In both matches, Matt Ritchie scored the winner.

Newcastle are too good to be relegated this season. I didn’t believe that a few months ago, but it is apparent now. Even when they were failing to win points, their defense was holding together. Their back four have helped keep their goals allowed total one of the lowest in the league. And they were unlucky. They’ve lost points due to final conceded goals in injury time. They have drawn matches that they should have easily won. They’s been an odd team, finding more success on the road than at home.

They practically got a new midfield in January. Issac Hayden, who repeatedly asked to be transferred, accepted his situation and decided to focus on his football. He got selected to start more as a result. Back in September, their best passer was arguably Jonjo Shelvey. Now, with Shelvey on the injured list, their most expensive signing ever, Miguel Almirón is in charge of counter-attacking. Together with wonderkid Sean Longstaff, Issac Hayden and Matt Ritchie, the Newcastle midfield is getting balls closer to goal, and is driving wins.

Before Almirón joined the club, Newcastle whupped Cardiff on their home pitch. Another big step towards safety.

Then with Almirón, Newcastle pulled themselves within 6 points of safety with back to back wins over Huddersfield and Burnley on just 2 days rest.

Their dominance over Burnley was notable. The first half brought the goals, and the second half closed the clean sheet.

There are nine matches remaining in Newcastle’s season. They ought win four of them. I think they only need to win two and draw some others. I will see half of one of their future matches in the Toon next month.

Newcastle’s talent and growing English Premier League experience have gotten them through another season in the top league. The question remaining is whether Rafael Benítez will give the club another year to find a new owner. Newcastle never do anything the easy way under Mike Ashley.