Newcastle United will be back in the Premier League next season after a successful campaign that was ended by winning the Championship title. This was only the first step in the Magpies’ revival, but it was one that needed to be completed professionally and they managed to do that.
There was a huge squad rebuild during the summer to prepare for the second tier, which saw the likes of Matt Ritchie, Dwight Gayle, Isaac Hayden and others join the club. They had one of the best squads in the history of the Championship and they met the pre-season expectation by winning the league.
Here are how their players rated during the domestic season…
Karl Darlow (34 appearances): It was an encouraging campaign from the goalkeeper, who was the number one for the majority of the season. There were some key stops that helped Newcastle earn points, while two penalty saves against former club Nottingham Forest will live long in the memory. 8
Matz Sels (9 appearances): The goalkeeper was dropped after some poor performances at the beginning of the season. He never looked convincing and is unlikely to have a long-term future with the club. 4
DeAndre Yedlin (27 appearances): The American has developed a lot over the course of the season and has become better in possession. He offers an attacking threat as shown by his five assists. Defensively, he was suspect at times, but he is set for a bright future under Rafa Benitez. 7
Vurnon Anita: (27 appearances): After starting the season on the right wing, he moved to become a rotational option at right back. He was ever consistent and never disappointed, but he lacked the attacking flair offered by Yedlin. 6
Jamaal Lascelles (43 appearances): It was a huge confidence booster for the centre back to be given the captaincy at the beginning of the season. He has grown into the role and is a leader on the pitch. His commitment can’t be doubted as he played through the pain barrier to help the side to promotion. On the pitch, he is improving all the time. He was dominant in the air and contributed three key goals during the season. Although he is far from the finished article, this was a good season from the centre back. 7
Ciaran Clark (34 appearances): This was a great signing by the club as he has emerged as their most complete centre back. He put his Aston Villa nightmare behind him with a classy campaign, showing his ability to dominate at the back and launch attacks with his distribution. Like Lascelles, he contributed three goals during the season. 8
Chancel Mbemba (12 appearances): It was a disappointment that he didn’t feature more, but he finished the season strongly and scored his first goal for the club. 5
Grant Hanley (10 appearances): He offered good back-up to the main defensive options and played well when he was called upon. 5
Paul Dummett (45 appearances): The left back made more league appearances than anybody else in the squad and it is clear that he is one of Rafa Benitez’s most trusted lieutenants. He has improved massively over the course of the season and was consistent in defence, with excellent performances to keep the likes of Anthony Knockaert and Helder Costa at bay. 7
Jonjo Shelvey (42 appearances): This was one of the finest seasons of the centre midfielder’s career and he finished the season with five goals and eight assists. He was crucial to the way that the team played as he provided the creativity from deep and allowed the team to play with a good tempo. Shelvey made the first step as he strives for an England recall, something that isn’t impossible in the near future. 8
Isaac Hayden (33 appearances): He will go down as a bargain as he is much better than the £2.5 million that the Magpies paid. The midfielder offered a good foil to Jonjo Shelvey and an average of 3.7 ball recoveries per game show his importance to the team. He will be good enough for the Premier League. 8
Jack Colback (29 appearances): The midfielder wasn’t as impressive as many expected him to be this season, as he has been a reliable operator in the Premier League throughout his career. He played his part, especially in matches away from home, but his contributions won’t be remembered in the years to come. 5
Matt Ritchie (42 appearances): The Scottish international was one of the best signings made in Championship history. He has been a consistent threat down the right wing and can be relied on when things become tough. During the season, he contributed 12 goals and seven assists, many of which were crucial in the outcome of matches. Ritchie is a classy operator and set for bigger things over the coming years. 9
Christian Atsu (32 appearances): The on-loan Chelsea winger was used mainly as an impact sub and he was frustrating at times. However, he played his part with five goals and three assists. He ended the season superbly and may have done enough to earn a contract. 6
Mo Diame (37 appearances): The Senegalese midfielder was one of the more underwhelming players this season as he didn’t live up to expectations after signing. There were glimpses of his ability in certain matches, but he didn’t do enough in the number ten role. Three goals and three assists isn’t good enough for a player in his position. He has work to do to convince people he has a future on Tyneside. 5
Ayoze Perez (36 appearances): It was a patchy campaign for the Spaniard as he was frustrating at times and struggled with the physicality of the league. However, a strong finish showed that he has a part to play in the future. He finished with nine goals and six assists. 7
Yoan Gouffran (39 appearances): It was a surprise that the Frenchman played as big a role as he did this season after being frozen out by previous managers. Benitez gave him a chance and he played his part in the promotion campaign. He lacked the attacking threat of Ritchie, but his hard-working performances were important in providing balance, while five goals is a good return. 6
Dwight Gayle (32 appearances): He scored an incredible 23 goals, with one coming every 93.3 minutes. Only injuries prevented the striker from recording a record-breaking season. The former Palace man was crucial to the team and scored a bulk of the goals that fired the Magpies back to the top flight. He is too good for this level and deserves another crack at the Premier League. 9
Aleksandar Mitrovic (25 appearances): The Serbian will be disappointed by his performance this season as he was never fully trusted by Benitez and scored only four times in the league. 4
Daryl Murphy (15 appearances): He wasn’t first choice, but he never disappointed when he was called upon and scored five goals. The Irishman played a key role in the away wins over Huddersfield Town and Brighton. 7
Players with five or fewer appearances who didn’t play enough to be rated: Jesus Gamez, Achraf Lazaar, Rolando Aarons, Sammy Ameobi, Rob Elliot, Adam Armstrong, Daryl Janmaat, Jamie Sterry, Cheick Tiote, Massadio Haidara.[interaction id=”5915a818ba9a48f55d7afc26"]
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Victor Fernandez furthers Newcastle United first-team claims on Spain tour
The 19-year-old impressed as he featured against Belgian outfit Royal Antwerp.
Newcastle United recently travelled to Spain for a training camp as they attempted to deal with three weeks without a competitive fixture.
Rafa Benitez is an experienced manager and he will have realised the danger that such a gap could pose for his team, especially when it came to the fitness of the squad.
He arranged a training camp in his homeland, which culminated in a unique 135-minute match against Belgian side Royal Antwerp.
It consisted of three periods of 45-minutes, which allowed the manager to give playing time to the fringe players in his squad ahead of the run-in.
Although it gave the opportunity to experiment, only two youth players made the trip to Spain.
Nathan Harker was the back-up goalkeeper as both Rob Elliot and Karl Darlow were struggling with injuries.
The other, Victor Fernandez, caught the eye of Newcastle supporters watching.
Fernandez will be encouraged about further involvement with the first-team, as he was the only young outfield player to feature against Royal Antwerp.
That is a sign that Benitez considers the 19-year-old as one of the best prospects currently with the club.
The Spaniard joined the club just over a year ago from UE Cornella.
The signing went under the radar, but Benitez has an extensive scouting network and he obviously saw something in Fernandez.
Although he is predominantly a winger, he can play anywhere across the front-line is required.
Soon after joining the club, he spoke of not wanting to aim for too much too early when talking to the Newcastle United official club website:
“My purpose was not to make an impact really quickly, because I’m new and I have to get used to English football – it’s really different from Spain. I hope, little by little, I can keep doing good things here.”
Considering this was very quickly after his move to a new country, Fernandez’s words show maturity and show a glimpse into his character.
Benitez is a thorough manager who likes to know everything about the players that he brings to a football club.
There must have been something about the Spanish winger that made the Newcastle manager believe that he could adapt to English football.
There are no guarantees in football when it comes to young players fulfilling their potential.
However, the fact that Fernandez was taken on the mid-season tour to Spain suggests that he is on the right path.
He would have been offered guarantees about a route to the first-team squad and his involvement against Royal Antwerp will have been a reward for his progression since moving to St James’ Park.
He came on for the final 45-minutes and showed flashes of his ability.
There was some nice interplay with Dwight Gayle that resulted in the teenager having a shot on goal.
His trickery and direct style caused problems for his marker and he continued to excite those watching when the ball was his feet.
There is more developing for him to do before he is ready for the first-team in competitive action, but his performance against Antwerp was a positive one.
There is clearly talent there and he will be a player to follow over the coming seasons.
Newcastle are at the early stage of their development under Rafa Benitez and that will mean opportunities are there for young players.
Fernandez could have the ability to take his.
Paul Dummett’s Wales snub will please Newcastle United fans
The Welshman turned down an international call-up this week.
Paul Dummett has been one of the standout players for Newcastle United this season and his performances haven’t passed Ryan Giggs by.
The new Wales National Team manager has admitted that he has spoken to the left-back with a view to a return to the squad. The Chronicle reported the following quotes:
“I had a conversation with Paul Dummett, because he hasn’t been in the last few squads, and he just felt that it wasn’t the right time to come back.
“He wanted to concentrate on his Newcastle career which I have to respect, and we move on.
“He (Dummett) said that he wanted to concentrate on Newcastle’s relegation fight so I have to respect that at the moment. In the future we will wait and see.”
That will be music to the ears of Newcastle supporters and Rafa Benitez, as Dummett has emerged as a key player for the team since his return from injury.
This season in the Premier League, the Magpies have conceded only 13 times in the 12 matches that the 26-year-old has started.
That underlines how effective he has been and his importance to the team’s chances of staying in the top-flight.
Although he may not be the most exciting player to watch, Dummett is very good at carrying out a role for the team and it is no surprise that he has become one of Benitez’s most trusted lieutenants.
The Spanish manager enjoys to coach players that listen and carry out his instructions to the letter and his left-back certainly fits under that description.
A quick look at the stats shows how rounded Dummett is as a defender.
He averages 2.83 ball recoveries, 0.78 blocks and 6.85 clearances per ninety minutes. Meanwhile, he is very good in the air as shown by his aerial duels win rate of 57.41%.
He was once a scapegoat for Newcastle supporters and the focus of anger when things weren’t going well. The reason for that was his lack of technical skill, which would make him stand out on the pitch.
However, that side of his game has developed and he is now serviceable in possession. Dummett isn’t going to be cutting sides open with his attacking threat down the left, but he understands his own limitations and that has seen him improve as a player.
The 26-year-old has been part of Wales squads in the past, but he has only played once for his country and his lack of game-time may be a reason why he stepped away from the international arena.
Last summer, Newcastle issued a statement to explain why Dummett withdrew from the squad for the World Cup qualifier against Serbia, which featured the following quote:
“After a gruelling campaign with the Magpies, in which he played through the pain barrier on several occasions, 25-year-old Dummett is keen to recharge his batteries and spend time with his family and friends in order to ensure he is at peak form and fitness for his hometown team’s return to the Premier League and what promises to be a big campaign for both him and the club.
“He has been supported in his decision by Newcastle boss Rafa Benítez.
“However, Dummett – who has represented his country from youth level all the way to the senior team – has not closed the door on his international career and hopes to represent the Dragons again in the future.”
It is clear that Newcastle is the priority for Dummett, but it is interesting that he refused to close the door on Wales last summer.
A managerial change since then may lead to further opportunities for the left-back and it is easy to see why Giggs has already reached out to him.
The Newcastle full-back has developed into a Premier League calibre player under Benitez and he will offer an upgrade on the options currently in the Wales squad.
For him, as a player, it may be beneficial to play international football and gain experience at the highest level. Although he didn’t agree to come back at this time, it would be a surprise if he doesn’t return to the fold in the near future. Both parties would benefit from that.
Newcastle United fans are livid at Gareth Southgate’s latest England squad
Newcastle fans cannot believe Jonjo Shelvey is not in the England squad.
Gareth Southgate announced his latest England squad earlier today and for Newcastle United fans it was not well received. Newcastle fans were left dumbfounded by the absence of Jonjo Shelvey and Jamaal Lascelles.
Both players have been in good form for Rafa Benitez’s side this season but obviously not enough to make the England team.
The main reason why Newcastle fans have been so frustrated at the omission of the pair revolves around the players who have actually been called up by Southgate.
In particular, not many fans can understand how Jake Livermore gets the nod ahead of the Shelvey. Livermore has had a poor season with Premier League basement club West Brom and recently made headlines for the wrong reasons. He was one of several West Brom players reprimanded for stealing a taxi in Barcelona last month. Shelvey has outperformed the West Brom player throughout the campaign.
Southgate also gave debut call-ups to Burnley defender James Tarkowski and Swansea City centre-back Alfie Mawson. Their inclusion ahead of Newcastle captain also baffled many fans at St James’ Park. Whilst Tarkowski and Mawson have both had good seasons, it is hard to see how either has bettered Lascelles throughout the campaign.
Southgate has decided to experiment with that pair entering the fray, but for many, the Newcastle players were far more deserving.
Such sentiment is not reserved for just Newcastle fans either, with the majority of fans believing both Newcastle players deserved a chance.
This was seemingly both players last chance to make the England squad for the World Cup in the summer.
Here is some of the best reaction to the news on Twitter…
How on earth does Jake Livermore get in the England squad ahead of Jonjo Shelvey?
— Luke Edwards (@LukeEdwardsTele) March 15, 2018
Lewis Cook and Jake Livermore over Jonjo Shelvey. What’s Southgate smoking?
— NUFC 360 (@NUFC360) March 15, 2018
Cudnt care less about England and never have done for years now,livermore over shelvey just confirms why!
— Paul Wardle (@paulwallsend) March 15, 2018
Jonjo Shelvey is such an under-rated footballer and the fact Jake Livermore gets England caps ahead of him is mind blowing.
— David (@DTweeting101) March 10, 2018
Bad call from Southgate with the @England squad…Cook and Livermore over Shelvey?… Very disappointing
— camerongalloway_ (@djcgall) March 15, 2018
— Steven Lynn (@StevenLynn87) March 15, 2018
Livermore but no Shelvey? Whuuuuuut? #England
— Jack Bridgeman ? (@bridgeman_jack) March 15, 2018
— Matty (@m_atty90) March 15, 2018
Livermore in and not shelvey. Wtf ?????
— Craig Allen (@goobs9) March 15, 2018
Jonjo Shelvey getting overlooked for Jake Livermore ?? https://t.co/MC0t9kgxXX
— Leeming (@I_Leeming) March 15, 2018
Think Lascelles over Mawson any day but the criminal pick here is Livermore over Shelvey
— Myles (@MylesG_9) March 15, 2018
— CompleteNUFC (@CompleteNUFC) March 15, 2018
Livermore ahead of shelvey is an absolute JOKE. No lascelles is an even bigger joke.
— Stacy Young (@Stacyluvmusic) March 15, 2018
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