With the final match of the 2019/20 Premier League season on the horizon, we wanted to reflect on how our seasons have concluded in past years. We therefore take a look back to the past five seasons, while discussing the possible outcome of today’s fixture against Liverpool, the champions of England.
2014/15: Newcastle United 2-0 West Ham United
Rewind your mind back to the end of the 2014/15 season, and your memory will become flooded with a season of upheaval. Aside from a run of 5 straight wins in October – November, victories were very hard to come by as we earned just 5 other victories throughout the campaign.
Of course the season marked the end of the Alan Pardew era, departing the North East after leaving his stamp (literally) on the forehead of David Meyler, and with our squad plummeting towards the relegation zone.
In came the self-acclaimed ‘Best coach in the Premier League’, John Carver, recording 8 consecutive defeats and plunging ourselves into a relegation dogfight. With the awful form throughout the season, there was somehow still an opportunity to earn Premier League survival on the final day of the season, as West Ham United visited the St James’ Park.
The match itself does not need too much explanation, instead just take a look at the below picture…
With the acquisition of a vital 3 points it was confirmed Newcastle United would stay in the Premier League. Regardless of the win, it was widely recognised that Carver’s position was untenable, posing the possibility of an exciting manager walking through the doors of St James’ Park for the following season.
2015/16: Newcastle United 5-1 Tottenham
The following campaign began by offering us some positive signals. Gini Wijnaldum and Aleksandar Mitrovic were very promising signings, although the appointment of Steve McClaren did raise doubts.
These doubts soon came into fruition as the former England manager clearly lost all control of the dressing room. History repeated itself as we quickly found ourselves in the midst of a relegation scrap.
On Matchday 28, the 3-1 home defeat to Bournemouth extended the list of dismal performances and finally marked the vastly overdue dismissal of Steve McClaren. His replacement was an extraordinary coup, electrifying the entire city.
Rafa Benitez swapped Real Madrid for Newcastle United, swapping his intentions from lifting silverware to avoiding relegation. Although performances, and results saw a drastic upturn, it was too little too late and we were relegated after failing to beat an already relegated Aston Villa.
The final fixture saw a home game against Tottenham Hotspur, who were chasing a 2nd place finish after Leicester City had lifted the title.
The match therefore had no bearing on our league position, however our entire fanbase used this fixture as a plea to our world class manager, Rafa Benitez. Under the Spaniards short spell in the North East, he had already implanted a long-term vision, reconnected the fans with the club, while improving performances all over the pitch.
With no pressure on the players, we witnessed one of our best performances of the season. Wijnaldum put us ahead with 19 minutes on the clock, before Mitrovic doubled our advantage on 39″.
With Newcastle ahead by 2 at the break, it was almost unthinkable that we were watching a relegated team. The atmosphere certainly did not portray a fanbase that were disgruntled, rather it was a joyful atmosphere with the affection for Benitez voiced throughout each stand at St James’ Park.
The second half saw Lamela pull one back for the away team in the 60th minute before Mitrovic saw red on 67″. Influenced by the season’s results, it was expected the scoreline would be reversed, however the mentality of this squad had changed, they did not drop their heads.
Instead a further 3 goals were added as Gini got his name on the score sheet for the second time by converting a penalty before Rolando Aarons and Daryl Janmaat scored late goals.
The game ended 5-1 with a redundant 3 points bagged by the team in black and white, it was arguably our most important match as Rafa Benitez decided to stay at the club following our drop into the second division.
2016/17: Newcastle United 3-0 Barnsley
They told us to enjoy the Championship, we did! Following a difficult start to our Championship campaign in 2016/17, with consecutive defeats against Fulham and Huddersfield our match days were regularly accompanied by 3 points.
The season provided us with some memorable away day trips, while our players seemed to enjoy being the top dogs of the league. Renowned as the most difficult league to escape from, we had secured automatic promotion with several games to spare.
The final piece of the puzzle was the Championship trophy, however this did seem out of reach due to the points gap between ourselves and Brighton. In unexpected fashion Brighton’s form plummeted at the end of the season, leaving us with an opportunity to clinch the title on the final day of the season.
We welcomed Barsnley to St James’ Park as Brighton travelled to Aston Villa. In the North East, goals from Perez, Mbemba, and Dwight Gayle put us 3-0 up, however Brighton were also ahead against Villa thanks to a Glen Murray penalty.
With the scorelines locked in, it seemed that the title would not be lifted by the team in black and white, this was until Jack Grealish netted a late late equaliser at Villa Park to knock Brighton off top spot.
News filtered through to fans, coaching staff, and the players as we stepped up the party atmosphere. It was confirmed at the final whistle that not only would we be a Premier League team in the following season, but the cherry was also placed on top as we saw our team lift a well deserved trophy.
2017/18: Newcastle United 3-0 Chelsea
With our first season back in the Premier League, we exceeded all expectation and achieved a top half-finish following our victory on Matchday 38.
The majority of the pressure had been offloaded from the players with no risk of relegation, however the professionalism that had been instilled into each and every player had come to the forefront in this fixture.
Chelsea were welcomed to St James’ Park as they chased a Champions League spot, however on the basis of this performance it would be assumed the team in black and white were searching for European football.
The 90 minutes that unfolded under the North East skies of sunshine were outstanding. A constant bombardment of Courtouis’ goal saw Dwight Gayle net in the 23rd minute, before Ayoze Perez bagged his 9th and 10th goals in the second half, with no response from Chelsea.
The season marked a year of progression, settling back into the Premier League while it seemed the only direction was up…
2018/19: Fulham 0-4 Newcastle United
Our second season back in the Premier League did not begin as planned, overlooking 10 matches before finally earning our first victory against Watford on Matchday 11.
During the difficult start to our season, we saw plenty of slim defeats leaving us hanging from the bottom of the Premier League table, however hope was not lost. It was felt that the same system would eventually reap the rewards, eventually becoming reality.
After the difficult start, our form improved more and more as the season progressed, again guaranteeing safety before the final fixture. The main story of the season however unfolded off the field.
Rafa Benitez had revitalised the club from top to bottom, but was always striving for further improvements. This sense of ambition was backed by every single fan of the club, however the intention to keep developing fell on the deafened ears of Mike Ashley.
The lack of backing from Ashley had clearly strained the relationship between the club owner and manager, with the Spaniard facing a draining internal uphill battle. With the omission of a signed contract extension, the final day of the season marked the final match in which Rafa Benitez was contracted to the club.
With a trip to London to face already relegated Fulham, it turned out to be a great afternoon for everybody related to the club.
Jonjo Shelvey and Ayoze Perez both netted before the clock hit the 11th minute, while Fabian Schar and Salomon Rondon doubled our advantage in the second half to earn the travelling Geordies a comfortable 3 points in the sunshine of the capital.
Although the match day provided us with victory, it was tinged with a bittersweet feeling as we accepted the departure of Rafa Benitez was inevitable. The Spaniard opting to leave behind the frustrations of Mike Ashley’s penny pinching attitude for a lucrative contract in China.
2019/20: Newcastle United vs Liverpool …
In contrast to the five previous end of season fixtures, like many Newcastle United fans I can not envisage anything other than defeat this afternoon. If we do follow the trend of recent seasons and end the campaign with a surprising victory I still do not believe positivity would flow through the city.
Firstly, the only reward on the line is a league position of 13th, instead of 14th – Hardly breathtaking. Secondly, simply have had enough of Mike Ashley. In recent times there have been signs that positive steps were being taken, but this was due to the manager rather than the owner.
With no disrespect to Steve Bruce, as I personally think he has done well to keep us in the league and lay the foundations for the takeover, our only possibility of hope and positivity hinges on the completion of this everlasting takeover…
How do you feel about this afternoons fixture, but more importantly how do you feel about the future of Newcastle United?
NUFC Hotspot Newcastle United Blog. NUFC Hotspot Blog. NUFC Blog. Newcastle.
Subscribe for the very best NUFC Hotspot round-ups delivered straight to your inbox!