The Magpies have shown improvement since Rafa Benitez took the helm in March, yet not enough to overcome the lack of points and wholesale mess Steve McClaren left behind.
It’s often said but particularly rings true in this instance; with the new TV deal coming into effect, this is an incredibly bad time to drop out of the Premier League.
So it’s imperative the Magpies return to the top-flight – where a club of their size and history truly belongs – as soon as possible and preferably at the first time of asking.
With that in mind and Newcastle almost certain to instigate a huge player overhaul during the summer transfer window anyway, here’s a list of SIX signings that will ensure the Tynesiders get back to the Premier League in time for 2017/18.
Mile Jedinak is the ideal candidate to inject some leadership into the heart of Newcastle United’s starting Xi, captaining both Crystal Palace and the Aussie national team and famed for the aggression he brings to the midfield – albeit occasionally finding himself taking an early bath in the process.
A towering, rugged and combative enforcer, the 31-year-old is a perfect fit for the Championship and he knows what it takes to be promoted, leading the Eagles through the play-offs back in 2013. Increasingly marginalised under Alan Pardew, to the extent he’s made just 15 starts this season, and verging on the final twelve months of his contract, there’s a very strong possibility Jedinak will leave Selhurst park this summer. But whether he’s open to dropping down to the Championship remains to be seen.
Patrick Bamford may have found himself a peripheral figure amongst both Crystal Palace and Norwich City’s first team squads this season, managing just eight Premier League appearances combined, but the Chelsea youngster’s scoring form below the top flight is formidable, notching up 43 goals in 104 appearances throughout his spells with Nottingham Forest, MK Dons, Derby County and Middlesbrough.
A 17-goal haul last season earned the 22-year-old the Championship Player of the Year award and almost clinched Middlesbrough promotion through the playoffs. So although there are still weaknesses in the youngster’s game – particularly his lack of physical presence – if Newcastle can inspire a similar level of form, they’ll have a great chance of finishing in the top six next term.
Following a series of bemusing loan spells with Southampton and Liverpool, which have seen him make just six Premier League appearances and feature as an emergency striker, Steven Caulker will find himself in transfer limbo this summer upon returning to QPR – who have been miles off the promotion race in the Championship this season and can’t afford his wages anyway.
The centre-back’s CV is blotched with two relegations from spells with Cardiff and the Hoops. But he’s a well-rounded defender with plenty of years ahead, aged just 24, and rebuilding the heart of an incredibly shaky defence will surely be the Magpies’ first port of call this summer.
Aerial dominance is often imperative in the Championship and no second-tier centre-back offers that more consistently than Shane Duffy, who has averaged the most successful aerial duels per match of any defender in the division this season – a whopping 7.4.
Not that the 6 foot 4 Blackburn Rovers star’s abilities are limited exclusively to heading. He’s a young and talented defender who has improved exponentially since leaving Everton’s reserve ranks permanently in summer 2014. But the concern for Newcastle is rivalled interest from the Premier League; with his contract due to expire at the end of next season, a number of top flight clubs have been linked with the Ireland international in recent months.
From ten campaigns in the Championship, striker Ross McCormack has never managed to fire his employers to the top flight. But it’s certainly not for the want of trying; throughout spells with Cardiff, Leeds United and Fulham, the Scotland international has amassed 117 goals in 298 second-tier outings, including 21 strikes for the Cottagers this season to rise to second in the division’s scoring charts.
Indeed, no Championship front-man has matched the 5 foot 9 forward’s consistency in front of goal over the last five seasons. But having originally acquired him for a whopping £11million and tied him down to a long-term contract in February, Fulham could command an extortionate fee that Newcastle will struggle to justify for a player who turns 30 in August.
The superlative form of Nathan Redmond has been a real silver lining amid Norwich City’s relegation, bagging six goals and three assists in 23 starts so far this term. Averages of 1.2 created chances, 1.7 successful dribbles and 1.5 shots per match are also impressive considering the Canaries’ trap-door struggles and if Newcastle are planning to rebuild for the long-term, the 22-year-old represents a shrewd investment.
Likewise, the England U21, who boasts seven goals and 25 caps at that age group, would be a fantastic replacement for Andros Townsend should the Magpies fail to hold onto him this summer. Whether Norwich would sell their best attacking asset to a club they may be competing with for promotion next season remains to be seen but with his Carrow Road contract due to expire in 2017, however, Newcastle have half a chance.