Two Good, Two Bad is our brand new series of our articles – today, we start with Newcastle United seasons.
Two Good, Two Bad – How does it work?
The premise of Two Good, Two Bad will see the author, namely me, pick a subject such as seasons, moments, players or managers.
Then, I’ll select either my team (Newcastle United), the Premier League or even England. With those guidelines, I’ll give you the two best and two worst particular examples of the subject matter from over the course of my lifetime/fandom.
Today, as mentioned at the top, I’m starting with Newcastle United seasons.
2008/09 – The first relegation season
Starting the season with Kevin Keegan as manager, United didn’t actually get off to the worst start in the league this season. However, a falling out between Keegan and new owner Mike Ashley saw Keegan resign and things went downhill fast.
Interim boss Chris Hughton took over for a short stint but failed to gain any traction and United began to fall down the table. He was replaced by Joe Kinnear – probably the worst appointment in our history – which didn’t go much better.
Kinnear left his role after a “health scare” in February and he was replaced by Alan Shearer for the final eight games. Newcastle won just one of those games and were subsequently relegated to the Championship for the first time in the Premier League.
United finished on 34 points, a single point behind Hull City. They would bounce back to the Premier League at the first time of asking the following season under the guidance of Chris Hughton.
2015/16 – The second relegation…
Newcastle fans were immediately dubious at the start of the season due to the sheer fact that the club had appointed Steve McClaren as manager – despite a raft of huge names having been linked with the role.
Those doubts were dampened a little and spirits raised as United spent well in the transfer market – bringing in some top quality players such as Georginio Wijnaldum and Aleksandar Mitrovic.
When the season eventually got underway – it was bad from the get go. Newcastle were winless for the first eight games of the season, eventually picking up three points for the first time on October 18 as Wijnaldum bagged four in a 6-2 rout over Norwich.
However, that win was immediately followed by a 3-0 humiliation away to local rivals Sunderland – just about summing up the season.
Newcastle kept losing games and EVENTUALLY, in early March, McClaren was sacked. His replacement? World class manager Rafa Benitez – given ten games to steady a sinking ship, even he couldn’t manage it and United were relegated AGAIN.
Benitez stuck around on Tyneside for the Championship season, writing his name into Geordie folklore. Newcastle were promoted at the first time of asking once more and have remained in the league ever since – even if Benitez is no longer at the club.
2010-11 – The first season back in the Premier League
While the season itself was unremarkable, the circumstances of this campaign as well as some of the games within made this one of my two favourites.
Fresh off promotion back to the top flight, United were riding a wave at the start of the season with Chris Hughton still at the reigns. The season started with a hammering at Old Trafford, but the home opener in week two… damn.
Aston Villa came to town and faced the full wrath of the Newcastle United side. Led by Kevin Nolan, Joey Barton and Andy Carroll – United picked up a cracking 6-0 win including a hat-trick for the big AC and a screamer for Barton.
As well as that game, on Halloween, Sunderland came to town and were royally pumped. This time the hero of the day was Kevin Nolan as he bagged a hat-trick, aiding United in a 5-1 smashing of their bitter rivals.
After that there was a bit of a down period as Chris Hughton was relieved of his duties – much to the dismay of the fans who had grown to love him. It was unfair and uncalled for – and his replacement, Alan Pardew, didn’t exactly go down a storm.
With three wins from his first five games, including a 3-1 victory over Liverpool at St James’ Park, Pardew got off to a good start. The pinnacle of his first season at United came in February when Arsenal came to town.
With fans fuming at the loss of Andy Carroll a few days earlier on Deadline Day, things seemed to be unraveling at Newcastle – the first half against Arsenal showing further evidence of that. The Gunners took a 4-0 lead within 26 minutes…
However, Newcastle came out in the second half properly up for the fight. With Barton and Nolan once more leading the charge, United mounted the greatest comeback in Premier League history to draw 4-4 – with the incredible equaliser scored by the late, great Cheick Tiote.
United finished 12th in the league and didn’t do much in either cup competition but the memorable games and the feeling of sheer joy to be back where we belong – that’s what made this one of my two favourite seasons.
2011/12 – When it looked like we were on our way back
The 11/12 season was my first as a Newcastle United season ticket holder and my God, I thought I’d hit the absolute jackpot. We were hotly tipped for relegation at the start of the season after the club shipped out the likes of Nolan, Barton, Lovenkrands and more – replacing them with unknown players from across the continent.
The arrivals of Demba Ba, Yohan Cabaye, Davide Santon, Hatem Ben Arfa (had been on loan the previous season) as well as Papiss Cisse in January turned out to be inspired as Newcastle defied expectations all season long.
Picking up some thoroughly memorable wins along the way, not least the 3-0 battering of Manchester United, Newcastle played some fantastic football all seaosn and finished fifth in the league – qualifying for European football for the first time in six years.
Alan Pardew was rewarded for his brilliant season with an eight year contract which would, obviously, become a very regrettable move for the Newcastle hierarchy. I’m sure that contract is still going actually.
From Papiss Cisse’s wonder-goal at Chelsea to Hatem Ben Arfa’s incredible effort against Bolton, the season was chock full of incredibly memorable moments and goals. It’s the best season of my lifetime by a country mile – and I genuinely thought we were on our way back to the top… then we nearly got relegated the next season.