Newcastle United confirmed promotion with a thumping 4-1 win over Preston North End on Monday night. They have returned to the Premier League, becoming only the second from the last 18 relegated teams to achieve automatic promotion at the first attempt. It has been a deserved promotion for the Magpies as they have been in the top two since October 15.
However, Rafa Benitez’s men haven’t had it all their own way as they have found life difficult in the second tier at times. Prior to tonight’s win, they had only won two of their last eight fixtures. The Championship is the toughest second tier in world football and although they may not win the league, their achievement shouldn’t be talked down. The struggles of Aston Villa and Norwich City underline how hard it is to succeed in this league. This season, their main focus was earning back their Premier League status and they have done that with two matches to play.
The finances and stature of the club will be talked about at length, but the job that Benitez has done shouldn’t be underestimated. He has massively reformed the club from the bottom up and has re-connected it to the fan-base. It would have been difficult for another manager to have got Newcastle promoted at the first attempt, but the supporters got behind the Spaniard immediately and that has helped the team on the pitch.
Everybody connected with the club deserves to enjoy the promotion tonight as it has been a hard grind this season, but this is only the first step. Benitez will have higher ambitions and believes that Newcastle have the potential to match them. He may have been non-committal on his future after the game, but he is switched on when it comes to the politics of football.
The promotion has given the manager a strong hand and it would be a silly decision from Mike Ashley if he doesn’t give Benitez what he wants. This club requires further rebuilding and he has the right manager in place to make the changes required.
They have two matches to go before the season ends and Benitez will want his players to approach them with a professional outlook, finishing with two wins. The title is likely to be beyond them as Brighton only need two points from their last two matches to secure top spot.
Here is how Twitter reacted to Newcastle United returning to the Premier League at the first attempt:
Plenty of current and former players were quick to celebrate:
— Tim Krul (@TimKrul) April 24, 2017
— Jonas Gutierrez (@elgalgojonas) April 24, 2017
— Alan Shearer (@alanshearer) April 24, 2017
— Shay Given (@No1shaygiven) April 24, 2017
— Andros Townsend (@andros_townsend) April 24, 2017
BYE BYE THE CHAMPIONSHIP
— Mick Quinn (@mickquinn1089) April 24, 2017
Rafa Benitez was praised for the success:
Still absolutely surreal watching Rafael Benitez as Newcastle United manager. The job he has done has been exceptional
— Evin (@EvG_Football) April 24, 2017
Newcastle were a failing club before Benitez’s arrival. They may have been favourites to go back up, but he has been the catalyst. Job done.
— George Caulkin (@CaulkinTheTimes) April 24, 2017
— Chris Conway (@ChrisConway) April 24, 2017
Rafa Benitez doesn't know the Championship and will struggle on that division.. pic.twitter.com/0249GNoQDF
— TrueFaithLawsy1892 (@tflawsy1892) April 24, 2017
This sums up the mood on Tyneside nicely. They must keep Benitez:
— Gem (@Gemma_Boyes) April 24, 2017
Featured image: All rights reserved by Newcastle United