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A new era finally begins at Newcastle United

Tuesday 26th July 2016
Witnessing the excitement coming from Newcastle United fans this summer, you wouldn't think that their club had just been relegated from the Premier League for the second time in seven years.

For them, this is the first time since Kevin Keegan returned in January 2008 that there has been such hope for the future.

In the time between Keegan's acrimonious departure in September 2008 and present day; the likes of Joe Kinnear, Alan Shearer, Alan Pardew, John Carver and Steve McClaren have all taken the helm and all watched as The Magpies' slipped into decline. Moments of inspiration sandwiched in between - from the likes of Championship winning Chris Hughton in 2010, and Pardew's fifth placed finish in 2012 - were fleeting.

The countless mistakes made by owner Mike Ashley have filled books, spawned countless protests and ultimately resulted in another relegation. Ironically this came a year on from his infamous pre-match interview on the final day of the season, in which he said he would not sell until he'd overseen a trophy win or made it to the Champions League.

Ultimately, these decisions brought Newcastle United to where they are now. Somehow, Rafael Benitez, winner of numerous European and domestic titles, is in charge.
The Spaniard is the beacon of hope that fans have clung so dearly to. He is the reason that 33,000 Geordies flocked to purchase a season ticket in anticipation for the visits of Burton Albion, Huddersfield and Rotherham.

Benitez has total control at Newcastle, the first manager to do in the ‘Ashley era' and he's already put it to good use, recruiting six new stars so far for over £30m, whilst allowing those not up for the fight to leave; club captain Fabricio Coloccini, Papiss Cisse, Andros Townsend, and Georginio Wijnaldum.

Soon, interim captain Moussa Sissoko follow and combined with Wijnaldum, the pair are set to net around £50 million alone for the north-east club.

Yet it's not just transfers where Benitez is making his mark. Plans are afoot to renovate the clubs training base along with an overhaul of a stagnant academy. In truth, it should have happened years ago.

With his forward thinking, supporters have happily placed their trust in Rafa Benitez, knowing that what they see are are his signings, his decisions, and ultimately his vision. Given the torrid time that has gone before, it's easy to see why.

The 56-year-old seeks to not only win the Championship, but destroy it in a manner never seen before. The bookies seem to agree, installing Newcastle as red hot favourites to bounce straight back and take a record point's haul in the process.

An aura surrounding the club has been building since May and it will be felt as Newcastle step out at Craven Cottage on Friday 5th August to face Fulham.

When the whistle blows, the worries that have so often consumed the Toon Army about who's pulling the strings and whether the decisions made are in the clubs best interest will finally have gone; the match-days full of uncommitted player performances and inconsistent communication in the post-game press conferences too. They know that Rafael Benitez will not allow it.

A new day has dawned at Newcastle, and after years in the cold, the sun is finally shining on St. James' Park.
John Howell

A graduate of Media & Cultural Studies from the University of West of England, I am a 26-year-old sports fanatic based in Bristol and an avid supporter of Newcastle United. I have written for several sites before joining It's Round and It's White and although I write primarily on the subject of football, you can catch me playing rugby on the weekends, no pun intended.

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