Newcastle United’s year finished in spectacular fashion. October and November saw a fantastic run of results for the Magpies. However, December saw more challenging times for United.
October began with a trip to the New York Stadium in what proved to be a difficult game for the Magpies. However, a beautiful Christian Atsu strike led to Newcastle taking the three points on the day. This was then followed up by the visit of Brentford to St.James’ Park. United put in an impressive first half display in a 3-1 victory for the Magpies. Goals from Dwight Gayle and Ciaran Clark giving United their third victory in a row.
United then travelled to Oakwell after a quiet first half, Dwight Gayle set alight the second period with a fantastic brace giving United the points. Ipswich Town were the visitors in the Magpies next fixture. With Ayoze Perez perhaps scoring the goal of the season with a wonderful team goal opening the scoring. He would go on to score again before Matt Ritchie gave United a third.
The Magpies would finish October with a double header against Preston in the league and cup. A resounding performance at St James in the League Cup saw Newcastle ride out 6-0 winners. The game saw impressive performances from Mohammad Diame and Aleksandar Mitrovic as United progressed to the Quarter Finals. In a reverse of the Cup game, United travelled down to Deepdale where Mitrovic scored another two in 2-1 victory for the Magpies.
November began as October had finished with United beating Cardiff. In a difficult game, the Magpies showed great resolve to hold onto a 2-1 lead. Atsu and Gouffran were the scorers on Tyneside. Next saw United renew rivalries with Leeds at Elland Road. In an entertaining game, Newcastle were victors with two strikes from Dwight Gayle defeating the Lilywhites.
However, in their next game, at home to Blackburn, United’s winning streak came to an end in a deeply frustrating game. The Magpies failed to turn up for 90 minutes as Charlie Mulgrew scored the winner for the Lancashire side.
November’s final game saw United travel to Hull for their EFL Cup Quarter Final against the Tigers. After a less than thrilling 90 minutes, the scores were goalless with Hull down to 10 men after Mbokani saw red. United then capitalised on their man advantage through a strike by Hull old boy Mo Diame. However, they were quickly pegged back by a Robert Snodgrass strike a minute later. The game would then go to penalties and in typical Newcastle fashion, only one of which were converted, seeing the League Cup dream end.
December began with yet another defeat, this time at the City Ground. A truly horrific refereeing performance saw United down to 9 men, however, they still led at half-time after two penalty saves from Karl Darlow and a Matt Ritchie goal. However, as legs tired, Newcastle succumbed to two goals and lost the game 2-1. Newcastle, however, responded in their next game, destroying Birmingham in a 4-0 victory seeing Gayle bag a hattrick.
They then followed this up with two victories away at Burton and Wigan leading to United being top at Christmas. However, this would change on Boxing Day when Newcastle were beaten by Sheffield Wednesday in another poor performance.
Newcastle finished off the year by getting revenge on Forest, running out 3-1 winners at St.James Park. This was after a Forest red card as United saw Gayle and Ritchie strike past Stojkovic.
Overall, 2016 was a difficult year for the Magpies who saw extreme highs and extreme lows, which is very much a Newcastle staple. Benitez coming to the club perhaps saw the greatest moment of this decade for many United fans. However, this was quite counteracted by the pain of relegation once again. Hopefully, 2017 will continue to see the highs which 2016 but with less of the lows and must if the club is to be successful again and earn promotion. If 2016 was a rollercoaster, we can only dream of what 2017 will bring.
Feature Image credit: Martin Le Roy