Updated: Oct 2, 2020
Another article inspired by Kyle, I thought I'd talk about my favourite and least favourite things in my time following Newcastle United and I will be keeping it to from my first Toon game in January 2009.
Favourite game - 1-0 v Anzhi Makhachkala (14/03/2013)
I thought I'd start with my favourite Magpies game and for this one, I'm going to go with the 1-0 win over Anzhi Makhachkala in the Europa League in March 2013. With the score 0-0 in Russia a week earlier, it had been a very tense night, especially knowing that one game from the visitors would mean we needed two goals (the exact same situation Metalist Kharkiv found themselves in against us in the previous round, especially after Shola Ameobi's penalty in the second leg in Ukraine). Steven Taylor put in arguably one of his best displays for us (and won a rare England call up the following week, but unfortunately didn't play) to help keep out the likes of Samuel Eto'o and Lassana Diarra as the visitors missed Willian, who had went off injured in the first leg but has scored three times against us for Chelsea since then. Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez was sent off in the second half for two yellows but Guus Hiddink's side came close to opening the scoring in the 88th minute when Mbark Boussoufa hit the post with a free kick, had that gone in, it would've most likely sealed the end of our European adventure. The game was looking to head into extra time but just as the clock approached the end of the signalled three minutes stoppage time, Sylvain Marveaux's excellent cross found Papiss Cisse, who headed home with the last touch of the game to send us into the Europa League quarter-finals, four days after he set up the Senegalese striker to control and volley the ball in for another last minute winner as we beat Stoke City 2-1. Cisse would open the scoring in both legs when we faced Benfica in the next round but a collapse in Lisbon in the first leg and a late goal from Eduardo Salvio in the second leg on Tyneside meant we were out of the competition 4-2 on aggregate, hopefully we will be back in Europe soon under new ownership.
Favourite goal - Matty Longstaff v Manchester United (06/10/2019)
I went with this goal purely based on the fact I have Matty as a friend on Facebook (as I've bragged about many times) and got him and brother Sean to sign my programme at North Shields' 3-0 win over Bishop Auckland the day before. In what was one of those "imagine if that had gone in" moments, he hit the bar with a superb effort in the first half and his goal came in an amazing counter attack after Fabian Schar blocked a dangerous ball to prevent Marcus Rashford from opening the scoring. After the corner was cleared out to Miguel Almirón (who was getting stick for his lack of end product and should've made it 1-0 in the first half) showed an example of why we had faith in him before he finally broke his goal duck in December by playing an excellent ball to Allan Saint-Maximin, who made a very good run to find Jetro Willems, who then took Daniel James and Fred out the equation before setting up Matty to fire home what turned out to be the only goal of the game.
Favourite moment - Jonás Gutiérrez's last game v West Ham United (24/05/2015)
I could have went for Papiss Cisse's header against Anzhi Makhachkala but as I've already talked about it, I'll go with Jonás Gutiérrez's last game against West Ham United. I had given the Argentine a lot of criticism as he performed poorly during the disappointing 2012/13 season and though he'd have left after only playing four games in a loan spell with Norwich City in the second half of 2013/14 and it was eventually reported that after his first treatment for testicular cancer earlier that season that Alan Pardew told him he was no longer in his plans. However, he returned to the team two months after Pardew left for Crystal Palace and having been an unused substitute in a 1-0 win against Aston Villa, he made his return to action in a 1-0 loss against Manchester United four days later with fellow Argentine Fabricio Coloccini (who had also joined from a La Liga club in the summer of 2008) handing him the captain's armband as he replaced Ryan Taylor (who would also be released over the phone at the end of the season). He performed a lot better in his last few months at the club and really should've started more games given how spineless we were throughout those three months, it was so bad that despite sitting 11th at the start of March, we were up against Hull City, who had beaten us to survival on the last day of Jonás' first season in 2009, on the last day again after losing eight games in a row and 2-1 at already relegated Queens Park Rangers eight days earlier. We took on West Ham United and after a goalless first half, Jonás put in the cross for Moussa Sissoko (who's performances dropped massively after admitting in December that he wanted to leave) to head home the opening goal in a game we needed to win to ensure safety. Vurnon Anita, who had performed a lot better in the game that he had done most of the season, wasted a good chance to make it 2-0 on the counter attack but it was probably just as well as Gutiérrez received the ball from outside the box and his deflected shot found the back of the net and ensured we would stay in the top flight (and leapfrog rivals Sunderland into 15th). He knew that realistically, he wouldn't be offered a new deal so given the way he was treated, he cupped his ears towards Mike Ashley after mass celebrations with the rest of the squad, it was a real shame to see him treated the way he was by the board but that's something that will be mentioned in an article I will release when Mike Ashley leaves the club.
Favourite players - Demba Ba and Hatem Ben Arfa
It was hard to decide this one so I'm going to talk about both Demba Ba and Hatem Ben Arfa. As you probably know, I wasn't lucky enough to witness the likes of Alan Shearer and Laurent Robert so I'm going to go with, for me, our best striker since Shearer and a player with bags and bags of talent but was mismanaged by Alan Pardew. I could have went with Yohan Cabaye but I'd prefer not to given that he refused to play after he rejected an offer from Arsenal for him in August 2013 but onto Ben Arfa, who arrived on loan from Marseille in August 2010 as one of Graham Carr's first signings as a new era began on Tyneside, he netted a magnificent strike on his first start in a 1-0 win at Everton three weeks later but two weeks later, his season was ended after an awful tackle from Nigel De Jong (three months after he was extremely lucky to escape a red card in Holland's World Cup final loss to Spain) in a 2-1 loss at Manchester City. Nevertheless, we signed him permanently in January and although he didn't play any more games, he was back in training three months later, unfortunately, he picked up another injury in a 0-0 draw with Sporting Kansas City in pre season.
Meanwhile, that summer, Demba Ba was signed from relegated West Ham United and netted a his first three goals in a 3-1 win over Blackburn Rovers before Ben Arfa replaced him as he made his return to league action. Ba netted further goals against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur before another hat-trick in another 3-1 win at Stoke City, who he had previously failed a medical with before joining West Ham nine months earlier and scored a penalty won by Ben Arfa to give us a 1-1 draw at reigning champions Manchester United. The Senegalese striker netted braces in losses against Norwich City and West Bromwich Albion the following month and Ben Arfa scored his second Magpies goal to open the scoring a 2-0 win at struggling Bolton Wanderers on Boxing Day with Ba netting soon afterwards. Ba netted yet again as we beat Manchester United 3-0 at St James' Park in our first game of 2012 before heading to the African Nations Cup and three days later, Ben Arfa scored a magnificent solo goal to equalise in an FA Cup third round tie against Blackburn Rovers, which for me, is the best Toon goal I can remember, just a shame I hadn't been there to see it live, especially when Jonás Gutiérrez sealed a 2-1 win five minutes into stoppage time. Ben Arfa also netted a consolation in a 5-2 loss at Fulham two weeks later, the first of three he'd net against them but Ba opened the scoring against Aston Villa on his return from Africa, along with fellow Senegalese striker Papiss Cissé, who had signed from Freiburg in January, it proved to be Ba's last goal of the season as Cissé essentially took over as the main man but he did provide the assist for Yohan Cabaye's second goal in a 3-0 home win over Stoke City, meaning his season finished with sixteen goals and four assists.
As for Ben Arfa, he opened the scoring in a 2-1 loss at Arsenal before netting a magnificent strike on the counter attack in a 3-1 win at West Bromwich Albion whilst setting up both of Cissé's goals, he would then set up Papiss twice again in a 2-0 win over Liverpool a week later, including some superb skill before his cross found the Senegalese striker to make it 1-0. In the next home game, against Bolton Wanderers, he received a pass from Davide Santon and instantly turned Sam Ricketts to start a magnificent solo run that ended in him opening the scoring for what turned out to be Match of The Day's goal of the month winner and would've probably won goal of the season if not for Cissé's ridiculous strike at Stamford Bridge three weeks later. Personally, I feel that had Cissé not gone downhill after his first six months on Tyneside, he would've been my favourite ever player.
Both of them netted in an opening day 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur in August 2012 and Ben Arfa won goal of the month again for September with a spectacular strike in a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa two weeks later. Ba netted a further twelve goals before leaving for Chelsea in January whilst Ben Arfa suffered a hamstring injury against Maritimo in the Europa League in November and again after a fantastic equaliser in a 2-1 loss at Fulham in December. He made his return in a 0-0 draw at Anzhi Makhachkala in the Europa League but was injured yet again but was involved as Cissé's goal gave us hope in the second leg of the next round against Benfica whilst had a chance to put us ahead on away goals but couldn't take it as we exited the competition. He did hit the woodwork from a free kick in a 0-0 draw at West Ham United before winning and converting a penalty in a 2-1 win at already relegated Queens Park Rangers a week later. Although a year later, Alan Pardew got rid of him in favour of Gabriel Obertan and Sammy Ameobi by loaning him to Hull City before his contract was terminated four months later, he will be remembered by me and most fans as a once in a generation player and his magnificent skill is exactly why our current French winger Allan Saint-Maximin (who currently adopts his number ten shirt) is likened to him. In his final season for us, Ben Arfa did manage to net one last goal of the month winner as his late thunderbolt gave us a 1-0 win over Fulham in August 2013.
Favourite periods - 2009-2012 & 2016-2019
Again, I have decided to choose two different three year periods as my favourites ones following Newcastle United, both of which started with a Championship winning season. I choose 2009-2012 as it saw us go from going down with a whimper at best to finishing above a Chelsea side, who won that season's Champions League and 2016-2019 as Rafael Benítez restored hope in the club and brought back the team spirit we had been missing for three or four years before his arrival. Obviously 2009-2012 was better for us but I also choose 2016-2019 as I was able to go to all the games. The summer of 2009 saw a dressing room inquest take place after we were humiliated 6-1 at Leyton Orient in pre season to make players think about whether they'd up for the challenge of getting us back into the Premier League and Obafemi Martins, Sébastien Bassong, Habib Beye and Damien Duff would all eventually follow Michael Owen, Mark Viduka, David Edgar and Claudio Caçapa out the door (Peter Lovenkrands had already left after his short term contract expired but would eventually return on deadline day). Despite all the speculation about the club's future as well as Danny Simpson being our only new arrival, we made an excellent start to life in the Championship and caretaker manager Chris Hughton was given the job permanently as Mike Ashley took the club off the market. We eventually finished eleven points ahead of second placed West Bromwich Albion, sealing promotion just before a 2-1 win over Sheffield United on Easter Monday, clinching the title with a 2-0 win at Plymouth Argyle two weeks later and passed the hundred point mark with a 1-0 win at Queens Park Rangers on the opening day whilst also going unbeaten at home in all competitions, including hammering promotion hopefuls (and eventual play-off finalists) Cardiff City and Blackpool whilst putting six past Barnsley (just like we did in our previous second tier campaign but this time, without keeping a clean sheet).
After losing 3-0 at Manchester United in our first game back, our first home game saw us hammer Aston Villa 6-0, fifteen months after relegation was confirmed at Villa Park with Andy Carroll netting a hat-trick. Despite then also a 5-1 hammering of local rivals Sunderland, giving the previous season's Premier League and FA Cup winners Chelsea their first loss of the season in the Carling Cup with Shola Ameobi heading home the winner in a 4-3 thriller at Stamford Bridge, holding them to a draw on Tyneside two months later and winning 1-0 at Everton and Arsenal, Chris Hughton was bizarrely sacked, leading to fan protests in support of him before new manager Alan Pardew's game in charge. We finished a respectable 12th in our first season back despite the £35,000,000 sale of top scorer Andy Carroll on January deadline day to Liverpool and would've had a top ten finish we hadn't thrown away a 3-0 lead at home to West Brom on the final day, whilst the season's top scorer and captain Kevin Nolan left for relegated West Ham United to link back up with former Magpies manager Sam Allardyce, who he'd worked with for many years at Bolton Wanderers. Fabricio Coloccini was given the captaincy and Nolan's replacement in Yohan Cabaye turned out to be an upgrade as his midfield partnership with Cheick Tioté as well as the attacking deadliness of fellow summer signing Demba Ba, Hatem Ben Arfa and January arrival Papiss Cissé plus Tim Krul's excellent displays as he became our first choice goalkeeper. In particular, a six game winning run to seal European football for 2012/13 saw Cissé score at least once in every single game, after a 4-0 loss at Wigan Athletic ended that run, Cissé scored two amazing goals, including a ridiculous stoppage time strike to seal a 2-0 win at Chelsea and won him the goal of the season award. Unfortunately, a lack of investment started a four year downward spiral that ended in another relegation but we'll talk about that later in the article.
So fast-forward four years and we were relegated again but having went five games unbeaten to restore hope, including draws against Manchester City and Liverpool, the final day game against Tottenham Hotspur was all about chanting for Rafael Benítez to stay and as after the shock 5-1 win, he agreed to stay and mentioned that it was mainly down to the fans. Unlike the drama of 2009, we spent big that summer, with our biggest two signings being our most important ones as winger Matt Ritchie joined from Bournemouth for £12,000,000 and striker Dwight Gayle joined from Crystal Palace for £10,000,000, both on the same day whilst Wor Flags started their displays that season. After losing the opening two games, we found our feet with five league wins in a row in all competitions, including a 2-0 success over eventual title rivals and our former manager Chris Hughton's Brighton & Hove Albion and a 6-0 hammering of Queens Park Rangers, our biggest away win for fifty-four years. After dropping points against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Aston Villa, Gayle's hat-trick gave us a 4-3 win over Norwich City after we found ourselves 3-1 down with twenty minutes remaining and started a nine game winning run, including smashing Preston North End 6-0 in the EFL Cup, which included Aleksandar Mitrović's dancing in front of the Gallowgate at full-time. However, we went into the final few games seven points behind Brighton with three games left but after they lost 2-0 at Norwich and 1-0 at home to Bristol City whilst we beat Preston 4-1 to seal promotion and Cardiff City 2-0 to set a new club record for most away wins in a league season and if we bettered their final day result, we'd be champions. We did our job and beat Barnsley 3-0 but Hughton's side led 1-0 at Aston Villa until Jack Grealish's stoppage time equaliser meant we won the title and the season was made even better as Sunderland finished bottom of the Premier League and were consigned to not only the Championship but Burton Albion away a year after they told us to "enjoy Burton away" and the meltdowns on social media from fans of other Championship clubs made things extra special.
Despite fans turning on Mike Ashley after a lack of spending that summer, we rose to as high as fourth early in the 2017/18 season after wins against West Ham United, Swansea City and Stoke City. However, a run of of one point in nine games shortly after Ashley put the club up for sale left us in the drop zone until we beat the Hammers 3-2 two days before Christmas and the loan signings of Kenedy and Martin Dubravka really helped us to a top half finish whilst Mohamed Diamé came good after a very disappointing first eighteen months on Tyneside. Our top ten finish was sealed with a 3-0 win over Chelsea and for the second season running, Sunderland were relegated as ironically, Burton Albion scored two late goals to consign them to League One, including one from former Black Cat Darren Bent, they also conceded to former Magpies Daryl Murphy and Sammy Ameobi, who left us the summer before whilst Aleksandar Mitrović netted a winner against them whilst on loan from us at Fulham. Meanwhile, three years after all the rubbish about how were wrong to get rid of Alan Pardew (we'll get onto that later), he only won one out of thirteen league games at West Bromwich Albion (meaning an excellent run after his departure wasn't enough to save them), a record that was worse than what John Carver (who was his assistant again) fared with us in his half a season in charge after Pardew's departure.
However, despite Dubravka signing permanently and Kenedy returning for another year on loan, the protests against Ashley returned as we made a profit in transfer market, in particular having to settle for a loan swap deal with Dwight Gayle to get in Salomón Rondón, instead of activating his £16,500,000 release clause, despite the £22,000,000 sale of Aleksandar Mitrović to Fulham after his successful loan spell as they went up. It took us until 3 November to win a game but it was around that point when Rondón, who'd been injured for a month, came good along with fellow summer arrivals Ki Sung-yueng and Fabian Schär. Ki wasn't the same player after picking up an injury in the Asian Cup but Rondón and Schär went from strength to strength and the £21,500,000 signing of Miguel Almirón really helped us whilst Ayoze Pérez recovered from a disappointing second half to have his best season for us as he netted twelve league goals for us. Notable memorable moments included beating champions Manchester City 2-1 just after the Almirón deal was agreed and Pérez's hat-trick against Southampton and that signing gave us some hope that Benítez would sign a new contract but despite reports of a takeover by the Bin Zayed Group, he left in the summer, Rondón joined him at Dalian Yifang in China and Pérez left for Leicester City. Hopefully, we can have hope restored again with a takeover from Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund soon.
Worst game - Newcastle 0-3 Sunderland (01/02/2014)
Unfortunately, we'll now look at some of my worst memories of following the Magpies and we'll start with my least favourite game. I could have went for the 6-0 loss against Liverpool in April 2013 but I have to choose the 3-0 loss at home to Sunderland just over nine months later. Yohan Cabaye's £19,000,000 departure to Paris Saint-Germain and the failure to replace him made things difficult but top scorer Loïc Rémy's red card at Norwich City in midweek plus an injury to Yoan Gouffran made things a lot harder, not to mention the last two derby results. The Black Cats may have been struggling throughout the season but they hadn't lost an away league game in just over two months and had just reached the Capital One Cup final and this game would really rub salt in the wounds as Fabio Borini, who'd scored that 6-0 win for Liverpool and the winner in the last derby, smashed home a penalty to make it 1-0 after a poor challenge from Vurnon Anita and at that point, we just gave up and even Jozy Altidore could've scored as his shot was parried out by Tim Krul, and some pathetic defending from Davide Santon allowed Adam Johnson to make it 2-0. I remember it was at the point that the chants for Mike Ashley to leave began and at half-time, Luuk De Jong, who joined on loan from Borussia Monchengladbach in the week, came on but didn't impress whilst Shola Ameobi was no better despite his record against our rivals whilst Cheick Tioté was pretty much the only player to trouble Vito Mannone in the Sunderland goal. Eventually, future Magpie Jack Colback killed the game off with a good strike and despite claiming to be a Toon fan, shushed the Gallowgate End. A truly horrible day as we lost three derbies in a row for the first time since 1923 and their first league double over us since 1966/67, thank God they didn't win their cup final a month later but to make the loss more embarrassing, their next league win didn't come until the start of their great escape from relegation in mid April and until that point, they had more league goals at St James' Park than us until Shola Ameobi's opener in the 2-1 loss to Swansea City with Loïc Rémy and Papiss Cissé scoring stoppage time winners against Aston Villa and Crystal Palace respectively before then.
Worst moment - Rafael Benítez leaving (24/06/2019)
It's nearly a year since this moment and I still remember the depression of that day like it was yesterday. Despite being let down many times in the transfer market, Rafael Benítez was still hopeful of signing a new extension whilst reports emerged two weeks after the end of the season that the Bin Zayed Group had agreed to buy the club from Mike Ashley. However, despite their confidence, things went quiet and on Friday 21 June, the reliable George Caulkin reported that he was set to leave, this was also reported over the weekend by numerous papers. I refused to believe them and just enjoyed watching England reach the Women's World Cup quarter-finals along with the F1 but on the morning of 24 June, Caulkin then reported that we'd given up with agreeing an extension and were searching for his replacement (which probably suggested there was no takeover) and within hours, the club released a heart-breaking statement confirming his departure. In the previous two weeks, I had been getting stressed out due to what had been said on social media, including telling fans to boycott, shoving their opinions down each other's throats and even complaining about selling Joselu, despite him being, in my opinion, our worst player over the previous two years. I summed my feelings up in this article and mentioned that I'd stopped looking at my Facebook and Twitter timelines once the announcement was made. With the supposed takeover not materialising, Ayoze Pérez joining Leicester City and Salomón Rondón joining Rafa at Dalian Yifang, it was just so difficult for me until I went on holiday to Italy and then we started signing players after Steve Bruce's appointment.
Worst player - Emmanuel Rivière
I was happy to see the back of Shola Ameobi after he scored only five league goals in his last three years at the club but somehow, we found a worse replacement in Emmanuel Rivière. After joining from Monaco in July 2014, he missed a very good chance to net his first Magpies goal in a 4-0 loss at Southampton but eleven days later, did score a brace as we came from behind to beat Crystal Palace in the Capital One Cup. There were games where he looked to cause problems but despite outscoring Radamel Falcao in his only full season at Monaco as they finished second in Ligue 1, his finishing was just terrible and the moment that would probably sum up his time on Tyneside would be his slip as he had a chance to score in our humiliating loss at Leicester City towards the end of his first season. Two weeks later, he did net his only Premier League goal against already relegated Queens Park Rangers but it was no surprise to see Steve McClaren and Rafael Benítez barely use him. In fact, fans chanted about McClaren not knowing what he was doing when he brought him at Stoke City in March 2016 with the score 0-0 and waited until Xherdan Shaqiri made it 1-0 to bring on Ayoze Pérez and Seydou Doumbia whilst the latter probably couldn't wait for his loan spell to end when the Frenchman was chosen up front instead of him in a must win game at home to Bournemouth, the 3-1 loss would be the last game for both McClaren, who was sacked six days later, and Rivière, who left for Metz in August 2017 after picking up more red cards (one) than goals (zero) on loan at Osasuna in 2016/17 as they were relegated from La Liga. The fact we got £7,000,000 for him was just laughable and Metz deserved their relegation just for spending that much on him and I have to feel for Cosenza fans, having to watch both him and Achraf Lazaar.
Worst period - 2012-2016
And finally, we come onto my least favourite period following Newcastle United and as I mentioned earlier, a lack of investment started the four year downward spiral that ended in relegation. League results were mixed early on but things were going well in Europa League, however, Fabricio Coloccini's red card against Liverpool was probably our turning point in the season as despite holding on for a 1-1 draw, we lost our next four games. Demba Ba, who had scored just under half of our league goals, left for Chelsea and we were beaten 2-0 at Championship side Brighton & Hove Albion in the FA Cup third round, the second year running they knocked us out and 2-1 at home to newly-promoted to Reading, their first away win of the season. However, new signing Moussa Sissoko set up Papiss Cissé to open the scoring as we beat Aston Villa 2-1 for our first away win of the season on his debut before a sensational display on his home debut with two games as we came from behind to beat Champions League holders Chelsea 3-2 whilst fellow January signing Yoan Gouffran netted his first goal in a 2-1 loss at Tottenham Hotspur a week later. Although we did reach the Europa League quarter-finals, Sunderland inflicted the worst of six successive derby losses as new manager Paulo Di Canio oversaw a 3-0 win, their first three points in nearly three months and their biggest win on Tyneside since 1979. Two weeks later, Liverpool gave us our biggest home loss since 1925 as they won 6-0 at St James' Park and we finished just two places above the drop zone. Joe Kinnear returned as director of football in June, much to inevitable widespread objection and we only signed Loïc Rémy on loan from relegated Queens Park Rangers.
Things were looking good in the first half of the season as we beat Chelsea 2-0, won 1-0 at Tottenham Hotspur and got our first win at Old Trafford since 1972 but star midfielder Yohan Cabaye was sold to Paris Saint-Germain in January and although Kinnear left after making no permanent signings, things went completely south as we lost six games in a row, including two 4-0s and two 3-0s whilst also losing 3-0 at home to Sunderland three days after Cabaye left and 4-0 at home to Tottenham on a wet and miserable Wednesday night in February. This led to fans turning on manager Alan Pardew as well as Mike Ashley with a walkout during the last home game of the season against Cardiff City, we spent around £35,000,000 in the summer but Pardew neglecting fan favourite Hatem Ben Arfa in favour of Gabriel Obertan and Sammy Ameobi whilst also allowing centre-backs Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Jamaal Lascelles to be loaned out, leaving us with only three centre-backs all season, the protests against him and Ashley continued as we lost 4-0 at Southampton for the second time in six months and failed to win a league game until 18 October. That day's 1-0 win over Leicester City started a six game winning running, including a 2-0 memorable win at Manchester City in the Capital One Cup, right in-between league wins over Tottenham and Liverpool meaning that the protests went quiet but there wasn't many tears amongst fans when Pardew left for Crystal Palace at the end of 2014.
However, we failed to get a proper replacement in and allowed assistant John Carver to manage the rest of the season whilst no January signings were made and Yanga-Mbiwa joined Roma permanently. We eventually lost eight games in a row, including allowing Sunderland to do another league double over us, getting hammered 3-0 at Everton and Leicester and fans boycotting the 3-1 home loss against Tottenham. After that run was ended with a 1-1 draw against West Bromwich Albion, a 2-1 loss at already relegated Queens Park Rangers left us fighting relegation on the last day but as mentioned earlier, a last game masterclass from Jonás Gutiérrez against West Ham United saved us before he was released in awful circumstances. Fans had protested against the board once again towards the end of the season and that summer, Steve McClaren was appointed as John Carver left the club and we spent around £48,500,000 that summer, which included signing the highly rated Dutch international Georginio Wijnaldum. However, we had to wait until Wijnaldum's four goal show against Norwich City on 18 October (same date again) to finally win a game and just struggled all season, the January signing of Andros Townsend really helped but McClaren was sacked and replaced by Rafael Benítez after we lost 3-1 at home to Bournemouth. However, the awful mentality of our squad meant it took until Jamaal Lascelles to call out the lack of effort in a 3-1 loss at Southampton (including challenging Daryl Janmaat's pathetic attempts to prevent their second goal) before the Spaniard recorded his first win in charge, beating Swansea City 3-0 on his 56th birthday. This started a six game unbeaten run to end the season, meaning that despite relegation, fans had hope again when Benítez agreed to remain as manager.
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