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Newcastle United: What went wrong?

Friday 13th May 2016
It is a city famed for its love for football, a one-club city where 52,000 adoring fans turn out on a weekly basis. Despite their reputation and an outlay of almost £80m on new players this season, for the second time in seven years, Newcastle United will be playing their football in the second tier of English football.

Fierce rivals Sunderland's 3-0 win over Everton in midweek condemned Newcastle to relegation on the penultimate round of fixtures of the Premier League season. For the 52,000 fanatical fans at St James' Park, they will be entertaining the likes of Rotherham and Burton Albion next year, a far cry from trips to Old Trafford and the Emirates.

Steve McClaren's ill-fated appointment last summer was supposed to be a new start for a club with aspirations of European qualification, a flawed transfer policy and poor decisions from those in control have culminated in relegation.

When Newcastle were last relegated in 2009, they returned to the Premier League immediately and emphatically, racking up over 100 points in the process. A strong British core including the likes of Kevin Nolan, Joey Barton and Shola Ameobi helped negotiate the haul of a Championship season, but is the current squad equipped to do the same?

Of the near £80m spent last summer and January, how much was spent correctly? The club was in dire need of an experienced centre-back and proven goalscorer, yet both issues remain. Chancel Mbemba is young and has shown promise, whilst Georginio Wijnaldum started brilliantly before faltering after Christmas. Andros Townsend sparked life into a doomed campaign after his arrival in January, but there are rumours of a relegation-release clause in his contract.

Aleksandar Mitrovic was courted by many but has flattered to deceive on many occasions, while Jonjo Shelvey has gone from the fringes of Roy Hodgson's England squad to the St James' Park bench. The less said about the signings of Florian Thauvin and Seydou Doumbia the better. The former was signed for a substantial fee from Marseille, before being loaned back to the same club just six months later. Doumbia arrived with pedigree on loan from Roma, but barely featured due to fitness issues.

Are any of these players suited to the Championship, and do any even want to be? There may be a radical overhaul at Newcastle this summer.Fresh blood will be needed.

Young striker Adam Armstrong, fresh from a prolific season on loan at Coventry should deservedly get his chance, whilst the likes of Jamaal Lascelles and Karl Darlow have previous experience of the division to aid the cause but it will be an important transfer window for the club.

The managerial appointment may be the most important issue yet to address. Benitez's appointment came too late, the Spaniard improving the side but with little time to stop the rot. The fans are keen for the former Liverpool boss to stay on at the club, but the prospect of swapping Real Madrid for the Championship in the space of 12 months may not appeal to a manager of his reputation.

The big decisions need to be correct for Newcastle United this summer, for 52,000 fans, and those further afield, they will be praying that they get them right.
Harry Diamond
Sports Journalist based in Manchester, UK. Graduate of the University of Central Lancashire.

Total articles: 8

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