Nobody needs telling that Newcastle United are a strange football club. The fans are always demanding more from the players, manager and owner, yet with very little in the way of success their constant demand of more can look strange. Regardless, the fans have had some incredible highs and vicious lows, with a lot of them coming under both Alan Pardew and Rafa Benitez.
The two managers couldn’t be much more different in approach, but they’ve both achieved varying degrees of success in the Northeast. Pardew’s moment was undoubtedly his 5th placed finish in the 2011/12 season where the Magpies qualified for Europe, whilst for Rafa his efforts to make the Geordies a top ten side in their first back in the top flight last season was something the fans savoured.
RAFA BENITEZ 2017/18
Fresh off of the back of winning the Championship with the Magpies in his first full season in charge, Newcastle fans couldn’t wait to see how Rafa Benitez would get on at St James Park in the Premier League. The Spaniard had trips to both Stamford Bridge and Anfield to look forward to against his former employers, and as the season approached relegation was still a real possibility.
The transfer window wasn’t too kind to Rafa, as we all know, Mike Ashley is hardly the most generous chairman in English football. Just before Christmas things looked bleak as Rafa’s side fell into the bottom three, yet when Martin Dubravka and Kenedy came in on-loan in January Rafa found his winning formula and managed to kick on to an incredible 10th-place finish and even put together a run of four straight wins against Southampton, Huddersfield, Leicester and Arsenal.
TT GRADE: B
ALAN PARDEW 2011/12
It goes without saying that Alan Pardew wasn’t exactly awarded the keys to the city when he left Newcastle. It seems that’s the case with pretty much all of Pardew’s clubs as he may not be the most likeable figure in football. However, for one golden season at St James Park, it all came together for 57-year-old as he helped the Magpies qualify for a spot in the UEFA Europa League.
Whilst Chelsea’s Champions League success and Sergio Aguero’s dramatic Premier League winning goal against QPR stole the headlines in the 2011/12 season, Pardew’s Newcastle quietly went about their business. Coy swoops for Yohan Cabaye and Demba Ba in the summer were crucial to their success, and as the Geordies went on to win half of their league games, including victories over Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea, Pardew pulled off the unlikely task of getting them into Europe.
TT GRADE: A
Whilst the fan feeling surrounding both Pardew and Benitez couldn’t be more different, there is just no arguing which of the two had more success in their best seasons. Benitez has done a sublime job of making the club a stable top-flight outfit, yet that pales in comparison to the fact that Pardew had the Geordies competing not only in the Premier League, but also further afield in Europe, and for that reason Pardew simply has to win this battle.
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