2019/20: My season review

Updated: Jul 28, 2020

So another season is over and in such weird circumstances, it was one where we definitely did better than what most people predicted in pre season but one I think all of us are glad to see the back of because of our form after the win at Bournemouth and having to finish behind closed doors thanks to coronavirus.

Six weeks after the end of the 2018/19 season, disaster struck as it was confirmed that Rafael Benítez would be leaving at the end of his contract and unsurprisingly, he admitted upon departure that he wanted to stay but the board weren't willing to match his ambitions. Just before the players came back for pre-season, Ayoze Pérez's £30,000,000 release clause was activated by Leicester City just to make things worse and as an alleged takeover from the Bin Zayed Group never materialised, Steve Bruce was appointed as head coach right before our first Asia Trophy game against Wolverhampton Wanderers in Nanjing, which we lost 4-0 but he watched from the stands as we beat West Ham United 1-0 in Shanghai in the third place play-off three days later with Yoshinori Muto scoring the only goal.

Just after we returned from China, Joelinton was signed for a club record £40,000,000 from Hoffenheim and he scored in pre-season wins against Hibernian and St Etienne whilst Jetro Willems arrived on loan from Eintracht Frankfurt on the same day as French winger Allan Saint-Maximin completed a £16,500,000 move from Nice. Deadline day saw us sign Sweden international Emil Krafth from Amiens for £5,000,000 and free agent Andy Carroll returned home after eight and a half years. This still didn't stop fans from protesting against the board before a 1-0 home loss against Arsenal in our first league game of the season whilst six days later, we were humiliated 3-1 at newly-promoted Norwich City thanks to a Teemu Pukki hat-trick before Joelinton's first Premier League goal came in a shock 1-0 win at Tottenham Hotspur eight days later. Ayoze Pérez's first return to St James' Park came earlier than expected as we hosted Leicester City in the second round of the Carabao Cup three days later, Joelinton and Miguel Almirón didn't play due as they were fatigued but Yoshinori Muto stepped up to equalise from Jetro Willems' low cross, however, we lost 4-2 on penalties and Matt Ritchie went off injured following a horror tackle from Hamza Choudhury, the month ended with a 1-1 draw against Watford with Fabian Schär scoring our goal.

Willems scored his first Magpies goal to give us a shock early lead at Liverpool but we'd eventually lose 3-1 before a dire display in a 0-0 draw at home to Brighton & Hove Albion, a game we were lucky to get a point out of and then a 5-0 hammering at Leicester with Isaac Hayden seeing red in the first half. This paved the way for Sean Longstaff's brother Matthew to come in against Manchester United and score the only goal on his Premier League debut, they started together in the midfield again in a 1-0 loss at Chelsea and a 1-1 draw at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers with Sean being sent off late on. This meant Hayden came straight back in away to West Ham United following the end of his ban whilst Jonjo Shelvey marked his return to the side with a superb free-kick in a 3-2 win and around that time, we saw a lot of goals from defenders as Ciaran Clark and Federico Fernandez also scored in our win at the London Stadium whilst Clark scored again to give us a 2-1 win over Bournemouth a week later after DeAndre Yedlin's first half equaliser and Jamaal Lascelles also got on the scoresheet in the draw with Wolves.