Newcastle United 2015/2016 season review: An unforgettable year for the Magpies

Newcastle United could not survive the drop in a disappointing season, however the appointment of Rafa Benitez has left fans positive about the future.

Newcastle United 2015/2016 season review: An unforgettable year for the Magpies
McClaren left Benitez too big a mess to clean up late in the season. (Photo: Getty)

Not a day goes by without a trial or tribulation on Tyneside, and this year the long suffering fans were subjected to eight months of poor results followed by a relegation to the Championship

Rafa Benitez took charge for the last 10 games of the season and there was an upturn in results and a slightly surreal feeling that with the Spaniard in charge, relegation wouldn't seem so bad.

However, he couldn't save the Magpies as they dropped into the second tier.

McClaren's reign

Steve McClaren was appointed as Newcastle United boss last summer and took charge of a squad that had narrowly escaped the drop in the 2014/2015 season.

The former England boss told supporters that the aim for the season was a top eight finish and a run in the cups. The club finished 18th and were knocked out of both the FA and League Cup in the early stages. 

McClaren oversaw 16 league defeats during his time in charge, so it was no surprise that Newcastle were in and around the relegation zone for most of the season. A 3-1 defeat at home to fellow strugglers Bournemouth spelled the end for McClaren, however many will agree the 55-year-old should have been given his marching orders much sooner. 

Rafa's revival

After being sacked by Real Madrid, not many people would have thought the next destination for a former Champions League winner would have been a relegation-threatened side in the North East of England. However, Rafa Benitez made the jump and agreed to take over Newcastle in their time of need. 

Newcastle fans have been known to give managers a hard time in the past, albeit not without good reason. However, the last few months have shown that if a manager comes to Newcastle, gets the players performing and showing a bit of passion, they will be adored. 

Benitez has only been in charge for two months and he is already idolised on Tyneside. The last game of the season against Tottenham Hotspur was a dead rubber due to the fact Newcastle were already relegated, yet the stadium was full and the atmosphere was electric. If people didn't know any different, they would have thought Newcastle had survived the drop.

Benitez is the first managerial appointment since Sir Bobby Robson that has got the fans genuinely excited for the future. 

Can Benitez lead Newcastle back to brighter days? (Photo: Sky Sports)
Can Benitez lead Newcastle back to brighter days? (Photo: Sky Sports)

The signings

Despite how Newcastle fans feel about Mike Ashley, they cannot deny that the owner has spent a lot of money on transfers this year.

McClaren spent and he certainly spent big. Aleksandar Mitrovic, Chancel Mbemba and Georginio Wijnaldum were all signed last summer for a combined total of £34.5 million. Florian Thauvin was also brought in for £12 million, which proved to be a huge waste of money, as he was loaned out to Marseille in January. 

January's transfer window rolled around and McClaren needed to spend once again. Jonjo Shelvey and Andros Townsend were both signed for £12 million each, as Newcastle looked for an upturn in fortune. Shelvey was made captain by McClaren but was then dropped when Benitez arrived at the club.

Henri Saivet and Seydou Doumbia were also signed but failed to make an impact. Fans cried out for another big name striker and some defensive reinforcements, but McClaren and his backroom staff did not sign any of these players.

What does the future hold?

Despite being relegated, fans seem strangely optimistic and calm about the future. Benitez is reportedly close to agreeing his future at the club, which is a huge boost and will surely make Newcastle favourites to come straight back up to the top flight. 

Some of the performances since Benitez took over have also provided hope for the next few seasons. Jamaal Lascelles improved massively and showed character in Newcastle's battle to beat the drop, whilst Moussa Sissoko lead by example and showed glimpses of his former self. 

The future may not be so bad for Newcastle United after all.