Steve McClaren has been tasked with returning the glory days to Newcastle United.
The former Derby County boss, who failed to lead the Rams to the Championship play-offs despite leading the way for most of the campaign, arrived last month and immediately laid down his ambitions for his new side.
The Magpies haven’t won a major trophy for 46 years and the club is widely regarded as the biggest underachievers in English football.
Owner Mike Ashley believes McClaren is the man to put it right. So we booted up our copy of Football Manager and put the former England boss to the test, handing him a £25million transfer kitty to get things started.
And it didn’t really go to plan…
Steve went to work immediately and brought in Leonel Vangioni from River Plate, Senad Lulic of Lazio and Claudio Yacob from West Brom. In return he shipped out Gabriel Obertan to Stade Rennais, much to the Magpies fans’ delight.
He got off to a great start in the league by winning his opening two games against Stoke and Bournemouth, as well as comfortanly seeing off Carlisle in the Capital One Cup second round. But it all goes down hill from there.
McClaren fails to win a game between September and early December and, after a hugely disappointing away defeat to arch rivals Sunderland that leaves Newcastle in the bottom three, Mike Ashley sacks him. Understandably. McClaren lasts just 154 days in charge at St. James’ Park…
So who can save Newcastle from the brink yet again? None other than Ian Holloway, of course…
Holloway hits the ground running and wins his first three Premier League games in charge, including 2-1 victory over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
His worst run of games comes in January, with defeats Bournemouth, Man United and Chelsea, but it’s a short lived slump in form as he guides the Magpies in to the top half of the table by mid-March with a seven match unbeaten streak (W5, D2).
Eventually he guides Newcastle to a very impressive eighth place finish in the Premier League and instantly becomes something of a saviour in the North East. That’s partly down to the fact he managed to end an awful run of defeats to Sunderland by beating them 2-0 at St. James’ Park. Newcastle were a live and kicking once again!
But Holloway’s biggest achievement of the season, and arguably his managerial career, is guiding Newcastle to FA Cup glory, ending thier 46 year wait for silverware…
Relatively straight forward wins of Dagenham & Redbridge and Wolves in the third and fourth rounds respectively were followed by a monumental run of results that were worthy of winning the trophy.
Newcastle eliminated Liverpool, Man United and Man City on their way to the final, where they beat Leicester 2-1 thanks to a Papiss Cisse winner in extra-time.
Holloway is labelled a Newcastle legend immediately and he’s automatically tasked with guiding Newcastle in to the Europa League the following season.
Good ol’ Holloway.