Rafa-Benitez

Newcastle United were heavy favourites to gain promotion from the EFL championship this 2016/17 season having just been relegated from the Premier League the season earlier. This came as a result of the news that prestigious manager Rafa Benitez would, in fact, stay on with the club with the aim to get them back into the top flight after failing to keep the club in the Premier League when they appointed him in March 2016.

When any club gets relegated, it usually comes with the loss of some of the team’s key players. In Newcastle’s case, they lost a key Dutch midfielder in Georginio Wijnaldum to Liverpool for £25 million and key goal scorer Andres Townsend to Crystal Palace for a fee of £13 Million. However, as Rafa knew, the very next year requires careful investment of proven players in the Championship in order to bounce back and gain promotion. The club needs players who can adapt to the more scrappy and less defensive Championship, players who have a track record in the league and players who have a winning mentality. With this in mind, the club has decided to invite and sign with Matt Richie (Bournemouth – £10M), Dwight Gayle (Crystal Palace – £10M) & Mo Diame (Hull – £5.5M) among others. This has proven to be a very good decision as Dwight Gayle is currently top scorer in the league with 20 goals and Matt Richie has a modest 12 goals respectively.

Looking ahead at the future and comparing them to the other teams – They have the biggest budget, arguably the biggest fan-base and the most experienced and illustrious manager to have graced the Championship. They are the ones to beat. They are currently at the top of the table with 66 points, but Newcastle does have Brighton & Hove Albion breathing down their necks in 2nd just 1 point behind. However, that being said, these two teams have marginally broken away from the pack with a gap of 4 points from those in the play-off places. With the club’s performance, they are expected to run off with the title this season as predicted by CrownBet’s EFL betting odds.

However, Newcastle United’s season couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start. A 1-0 away loss at Fulham on the opening fixture of the new 16/17 season. Following on from this, a 1-2 loss at home to Huddersfield Town the following week had skeptics asking questions and supporters scratching their heads. 6 points dropped for any promotion chasing club.

Newcastle managed to find some form and Newcastle started proving the doubters wrong by showing the world what they really were about – they won their next six on the bounce including an emphatic 6-0 victory away from home against QPR.

For Newcastle, nothing but automatic promotion is enough, they are in a good position and have an upcoming fixture at the back end of this month against their biggest competition Brighton which will be a huge opportunity for them to affirm their position at the top of the league and will really put them in the driving seat to finish as the EFL Championship league winners.