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2022/23 season review - back in the Champions League

Updated: Jun 4

After taking over as manager from Steve Bruce in November 2021, Eddie Howe produced miracles to guide us to an 11th place finish despite us failing to win any of our first 14 league games and it's safe to say his first full season in charge has been one to remember for the right reasons. Not only did we reach our first cup final since 1999 but we also qualified for the Champions League for the first time since 2003.

Our transfer activity began in early June as Isaac Hayden joined newly-relegated Norwich City on loan before Matt Targett was signed for £15,000,000 after a successful loan spell from Aston Villa in the second half of the 2021/22 season. Later that month, academy graduate Freddie Woodman joined Preston North End whilst England goalkeeper Nick Pope was brought in from Burnley for £10,000,000 following their relegation and having been heavily linked with Dutch centre-back Sven Botman the previous January, we signed him from Lille for £35,000,000.

Dan Langley, Jeff Hendrick and Ciaran Clark completed loan moves to Gateshead, Reading and Sheffield United respectively before we travelled to Austria for our first of two training camps. Second half goals from Joe Willock, Sean Longstaff and Bruno Guimarães gave us a 3-0 win over 1860 Munich in our first game there but Delano Burgzorg scored the only goal as we were beaten 1-0 by Mainz three days later. Just over nine years on from our Europa League quarter-final against Benfica, we were invited to play them at the Estádio da Luz in the annual Eusébio Cup - Miguel Almirón's first half brace cancelled out a Gonçalo Ramos header and an Álex Grimaldo free-kick to put us level going into half-time but after Joelinton was sent off, Henrique Araújo's late strike gave the hosts a 3-2 win. The last weekend of pre-season saw us host both Atalanta and Athletic Bilbao - Chris Wood's first half penalty gave us a 1-0 win over Atalanta before Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin netted as we beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1 the following day. Meanwhile, Dwight Gayle left for Stoke City after failing to score a competitive goal in the 2021/22 season

After a goalless first half in our first Premier League game of the season at home to newly-promoted Nottingham Forest, Fabian Schär netted what was a carbon copy of his screamer against Burnley in February 2019 and like that goal, it also came at the Leazes End to open the scoring in a 2-0 win as Callum Wilson netted on the opening weekend for a third season running to seal the three points late on. Nick Pope barely had anything to do on his competitive debut but he was far busier a week later, making save after save as we drew 0-0 with Brighton & Hove Albion whilst Kieran Trippier and Fabian Schär also had to clear the ball off the line although Callum Wilson was probably unlucky to have a goal disallowed for a high foot in the first half. We conceded our first goal of the season five minutes into our home game against defending champions Manchester City as İlkay Gündoğan put the visitors ahead but Miguel Almirón headed in Allan Saint-Maximin's cross to put us level before the Frenchman set up Callum Wilson, who gave us the lead going into half-time. Kieran Trippier's second half free kick made it 3-1 but it was 3-3 ten minutes later as Erling Haaland and Bernardo Silva both netted to give Pep Guardiola's side a point.

With Callum Wilson coming off with a hamstring injury against Manchester City, it was clear that another striker was needed before the end of the window and we agreed a club record £63,000,000 fee with Real Sociedad for Aleksander Isak. Meanwhile, our Carabao Cup campaign started with a trip to League Two side Tranmere Rovers and after Elliott Nevitt gave the hosts a surprise lead, Emil Krafth suffered an ACL injury, which eventually meant that he would play no further part in our season. Jamaal Lascelles equalised before half-time before Chris Wood's header gave us a 2-1 win and he started our next game away to Wolverhampton Wanderers with Isak's work permit still being processed. A Rúben Neves screamer gave the hosts a half-time lead before Allan Saint-Maximin's late volley gave us a 1-1 draw shortly after Raúl Jiménez had a goal disallowed by VAR for a foul in the build-up. Isak was able to make his debut away to Liverpool three days later and he opened the scoring in front of our travelling fans, he was unlucky to be denied another goal by the offside flag in the second half but after Roberto Firmino equalised, Fábio Carvalho headed home the winning goal in the 98th minute despite only five minutes stoppage time being indicated by the fourth official. The following day, Federico Fernández left for Elche whilst Lucas De Bolle, Martin Dúbravka, Matty Longstaff and Kelland Watts joined Hamilton Academical, Manchester United, Colchester United and Peterborough United on loan respectively. After the transfer window closed, we unexpectedly brought in free agent Loris Karius as a back-up goalkeeper after Karl Darlow suffered a knee injury in training.

September started with a frustrating 0-0 draw at home to Crystal Palace as an own goal from Tyrick Mitchell was disallowed by VAR for a foul by Joe Willock on Vicente Guaita despite replays suggesting that Willock was pushed into the Eagles goalkeeper by Mitchell. Like all other games the following weekend, our trip to West Ham United was postponed following the death of Queen Elizabeth II and before Eddie Howe's first meeting with Bournemouth since leaving them in August 2020, we held a minute's silence for her. Philip Billing gave the visitors the lead in the second half before Aleksander Isak netted his first goal at St James' Park from the penalty spot five minutes later but we couldn't find a winner and dropped more points at home. Isak picked up an injury with Sweden during the international break but Callum Wilson recovered from his injury and opened the scoring away to ten man Fulham before a Miguel Almirón volley and Sean Longstaff's first goal of the season gave us a 3-0 lead at half-time. Almirón netted his second goal from Joe Willock's cross to make it 4-0 before Bobby Decordova-Reid pulled one late on as we earned our first league away win of the season and Marco Silva's side were beaten at home for the first time since promotion. We then celebrated the first anniversary of our takeover by dismantling Brentford 5-1 as Bruno Guimarães netted either side of Jacob Murphy's first goal of the season and an Ivan Toney penalty before Miguel Almirón made it 4-1 and an Ethan Pinnock own goal wrapped up the three points.

After we held Manchester United to a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford, Almirón netted again as we beat Everton 1-0 to move up to 6th. We moved up into the Champions League places with a 2-1 win at Tottenham Hotspur as Callum Wilson lobbed Hugo Lloris before Almirón scored his sixth goal of the season to give us a 2-0 lead at half-time and we held on for the three points despite Harry Kane's second half header. Wilson netted a penalty to give us a half-time lead over Aston Villa before heading in Kieran Trippier's cross to make it 2-0 and further goals from Joelinton and Almirón wrapped up a 4-0 win, Almirón made it seven goals in seven games as he opened the scoring away to Southampton before Chris Wood and Joe Willock scored after half-time to give us a 3-0 lead. Romain Perraud pulled one back for the hosts but Bruno Guimarães restored our three goal lead in stoppage time in what turned out to be Ralph Hasenhüttl's final as Saints manager. We hosted Crystal Palace in the third round of the Carabao Cup and like the league game against Patrick Viera's side, it was goalless after ninety minutes but the penalty shoot-out saw Nick Pope save Luka Milivojević, Jean-Phillipe Mateta and Malcolm Ebiowei's kicks whilst Chris Wood, Kieran Trippier and Joelinton netted their kicks as we won 3-2 to reach the fourth round. Our last game before the World Cup break saw a superb second half strike from Joe Willock gave us a deserved 1-0 win over Chelsea, meaning that we would third in the league at Christmas for the first time since 2001. Meanwhile, the Premier League's monthly awards for October saw Eddie Howe named Manager of The Month and Miguel Almirón named Player of The Month whilst the Paraguayan also won Goal of The Month for his volley against Fulham.

We played two friendlies during the break, the first one being a 5-0 win away to Al-Hilal as Joelinton and Miguel Almirón got a brace each before academy graduate Dylan Stephenson also got on the scoresheet two days before his 20th birthday with Nick Pope, Kieran Trippier, Callum Wilson, Bruno Guimarães and Fabian Schär not featuring after being selected for their countries' World Cup squads. Following England's quarter-final exit at the hands of France, Pope and Trippier did start in a 2-1 win over Rayo Vallecano at St James' Park with Sean Longstaff and Chris Wood getting the goals whilst our former centre-back Florian Lejeune also came off the bench for the La Liga outfit in the second half. We returned to competitive action at home to Bournemouth in the Carabao Cup fourth round three days later and after Callum Wilson was unlucky to be denied a goal against his former club for offside in the first half, Adam Smith put Kieran Trippier's cross into his own net in the second half as we ran out 1-0 winners. When we returned to league action on Boxing Day, Chris Wood's penalty gave us an early lead away to Leicester City before Miguel Almirón made it 2-0 after only eight minutes then Joelinton's header made it 3-0 before half-time as we went up to second in the league for two days. 2022 did on a frustrating note as were held to a 0-0 draw at home to Leeds United on New Year's Eve but our first game of 2023 saw us become the first team to get a result away to leaders Arsenal in the league with another goalless draw.

Martin Dúbravka returned early from his loan spell at Manchester United after only playing in their two Carabao Cup games and he played in our FA Cup third round tie away to League One leaders Sheffield Wednesday but Josh Windass' second half brace saw us knocked out at the first hurdle by third tier opposition for the second year running with Chris Wood wasting a good chance to equalise late on after Bruno Guimarães pulled one back when he came off the bench. Three days later, we more than made up for the disappointment at Hillsborough when we hosted Leicester City in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals and as fans were able to watch us at St James' Park in a domestic quarter-final tie for the first time since December 2006, Dan Burn's first Magpies goal gave us the lead after an hour before Joelinton's second goal against the Foxes in just over two weeks made it 2-0 and we reached our first semi-final since 2005. Meanwhile, Aleksander Isak made his return from injury in those two cup games and in his first league outing since September, he netted a late header to give us a 1-0 win over Fulham after former Magpie Aleksandar Mitrović had a second half penalty ruled out as replays showed that both feet touched the ball as he took the kick. After our third 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace in all competitions, Joelinton had a goal disallowed for handball and missed a sitter before netting from Isak's cross to give us the lead in our Carabao Cup semi-final first leg away to Southampton, Adam Armstrong then became the second former Magpies striker in ten days to have a goal ruled out against us, this time due to handball before Duje Ćaleta-Car was sent off late on after picking up a second yellow card as took a 1-0 aggregate lead going into the second leg on Tyneside. Sean Longstaff's brace made it 3-0 on aggregate and despite Che Adams becoming the first visiting player to score a competitive goal at St James' Park since 8 October before half-time and Bruno Guimarães being sent off late on, we won 3-1 on aggregate to reach our first cup final since 1999.

January also saw Matty Longstaff return from Colchester United after suffering an ACL injury whilst Dan Langley was recalled early from his loan spell at Gateshead and joined Spennymoor Town on loan. 18 year old striker Garang Kuol, who became the youngest player to feature in a World Cup knockout game since Pelé in 1958 in Australia's 2-1 loss to Argentina in the round of 16, completed his pre-agreed £300,000 move from Central Coast Mariners and joined Hearts. Other loan moves saw Joe White join Exeter City, Chris Wood join Nottingham Forest, Dylan Stephenson join Hamilton Academical, Niall Brookwell join Darlington, Karl Darlow join Hull City and Jay Turner-Cooke join Tranmere Rovers. Meanwhile, we took up the option to extend Loris Karius' short term deal until the end of the season and brought in Anthony Gordon from Everton for £45,000,000 and Harrison Ashby from West Ham United for £3,000,000 whilst Jonjo Shelvey joined Wood at Nottingham Forest after injuries limited him to just five competitive appearances for us. Our first two games in February saw us held to 1-1 draws by relegation battling West Ham United and Bournemouth with Lucas Paquetá cancelling out Callum Wilson's opener to give David Moyes' side a point before Eddie Howe's return to the Vitality Stadium saw Miguel Almirón reach double figures for Premier League goals for the season as he put in the rebound after Sean Longstaff's effort was parried by Cherries keeper Neto. Our club record 18 top flight game unbeaten run was ended with a 2-0 defeat at home to Liverpool thanks to first half goals from Darwin Núñez and Cody Gakpo before Nick Pope was sent off, ruling him out of the Carabao Cup final. With Martin Dúbravka cup-tied, Loris Karius was given his competitive debut for us at Wembley against Manchester United but despite an impressive performance from the German and Bruno Guimarães returning from suspension, first half goals from Casemiro and Marcus Rashford condemned us to a 2-0 loss, 24 years on after our last cup final ended in a defeat to the same club by the same scoreline.

Our trip to Manchester City to begin March saw us lose 2-0 once again with Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva scoring either side of half-time but we got back to winning ways at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers thanks to goals from Aleksander Isak and Miguel Almirón either side of Hwang Hee-Chan's second half equaliser. Isak netted another two goals as we came from behind to beat Nottingham Forest 2-1 in our last game before the international break despite Elliot Anderson being denied his first senior goal for us by VAR and after the international break, second half goals from Joe Willock and Callum Wilson gave us a 2-0 win over Manchester United to move us back up to third, five weeks after our cup final defeat to them by the same scoreline. Wilson scored again to give us the lead away to West Ham United three days later before Joelinton had a goal disallowed by offside, only for VAR to give the goal after replays showed he was onside. Kurt Zouma pulled one back before half-time but Wilson took advantage of poor defending to make it 3-1 less than a minute into the second half and after Aleksander Isak lobbed Łukasz Fabiański to make it 4-1, Joelinton wrapped up a 5-1 win late on with his second of the game.

The first half of our game at Brentford saw Ivan Toney have a goal ruled out by VAR for offside, have a penalty saved by Nick Pope before scoring his second penalty to give the hosts a deserved 1-0 lead but after Joelinton's shot was deflected in off David Raya, substitute Callum Wilson set up Aleksander Isak to score a superb winning goal. Our five match winning run came to an end as we were beaten 3-0 by a superb Aston Villa side, who were unlucky not to win by more goals but we bounced back by hammering Tottenham Hotspur 6-1 with Jacob Murphy and Aleksander Isak scoring twice each whilst Joelinton and Callum Wilson also got on the scoresheet and Joe Willock produced one of the assists of the season for Isak's first goal. Our trip to Everton four days later saw Wilson, Joelinton and Murphy all get on the scoresheet once again with Wilson netting twice as we ran out 4-1 winners before he came off the bench to another two goals either side of an own goal from Theo Walcott as we came from behind to beat Southampton 3-1 and a return to European football for the 2023/24 season was mathematically confirmed that afternoon.

May began with a 2-0 loss at home to Arsenal as Chris Kavanagh's decision to give us a penalty for handball was overturned after replays from VAR before Martin Ødegaard gave Mikel Arteta's side the lead and an own goal from Fabian Schär doubled their lead. Our trip to Leeds United saw Luke Ayling give the hosts the lead before Nick Pope saved a Patrick Bamford penalty with Callum Wilson netting his penalty to make it 1-1 at half-time. The 31 year old netted another penalty to make it 2-1 before Rasmus Kristensen's strike was deflected in off Kieran Trippier to give Sam Allardyce's side a deserved point in his first home game in charge despite Junior Firpo's late red card. Five days later, Brighton & Hove Albion came up to Tyneside on the back of a 3-0 win at Arsenal and chasing European football themselves but after a Denis Undav own goal gave us the lead, Dan Burn netted his first league goal for us against his former club to give us a 2-0 lead at half-time before Undav scored at the Leazes End again, this time to reduce the deficit. Callum Wilson netted late on to make it 3-1 before setting up Bruno Guimarães to make it 4-1 and leave us one win away from securing Champions League football. After Liverpool could only draw 1-1 with Aston Villa in their penultimate game, a point was all we needed in our last home game of the season against Leicester City and whilst it wasn't the best of results, a 0-0 draw was enough to seal our return to Europe's elite competition. The season ended with a 1-1 draw at Chelsea with Elliot Anderson setting up Anthony Gordon to score his first Magpies goal and 17 year old academy graduate Lewis Miley making his competitive first team debut and coming close to scoring a late winner as we finished 4th with 71 points and conceded the joint least amount goals and lost the joint least amount of games in the league.

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