Newcastle United witnessed a season of major ups and down. After first 10 matches, the Magpies managed to register just three points and there were talks of them becoming a serious relegation contender.
But four win in their last seven matches saw them go as high as 14th on the league table, four points clear of the relegation zone.
Last of those win came on Saturday at Kirklees Stadium against resurgent Huddersfield Town in a battle of minnows, which ease the pressure on Rafa Benitez going into a very busy schedule.
Rondon paying back Benitez’s faith
Solmon Rondon was the players Benitez wanted from the beginning of the transfer window, and there were times it seemed the deal will not go through as it had many complications.
But the 29-year-old finally sealed a much-awaited move to St James’ Park done with striker Dwight Gayle going the other way to West Bromwich Albion.
The Venezuela international had a slow start but is now paying back the faith showed by Benitez in him from the beginning.
In the last six games for the Toon Army, Rondon has netted four times whereas he also provided an assist.
It’s not only his goals which are making a difference for Newcastle, as his presence in the heart of opposition’s defensive line is giving more room to players like Ayoze Perez, who are now starting to show what they are capable of in front of the goal.
With Newcastle set to play four league games in the space of 10 days, Benitez and his staff will be hoping that Rondon will stay fit and continue his good run, which can prove to be a real difference in the outcome of those matches.
Dubravka – the star
Martin Dubravka joined Newcastle in the January transfer window last season, and many were not sure why Benitez opted for a goalkeeper who is not really known in England and is already 29-year-old.
But the Slovakia international showed immediate impact and is now one of the fan favourites at St James’ Park.
On Saturday, Dubravka once again showed why he is now the integral part of the Toon Army with another outstanding performance.
With Newcastle facing some tough fixtures in the coming days, Benitez will be hoping Dubravka will continue his good form and keep helping the side in their bid to stay in the premier league for another season.