Newcastle United made some bold moves this summer, having been relegated the previous year after a horrid Premier League season. Those decisions look to be paying off.
The Magpies are set for yet another one-and-done season in the Championship in what would be their second of the sort since 1989. Newcastle scratched and clawed in the second tier back in the 2010/11 season, and they won the league to bounce straight back up to the Premier League. This season looks set for a repeat as Rafa Benitez has them top of the table following a 2-0 win over fifth-placed Leeds United.
Summer signing Dwight Gayle found the back of the net yet again – twice – his 12th and 13th Championship goals of the season. That sees him top of the individual chart as well, three above both Brighton’s Glenn Murray and Brentford’s Scott Hogan.
It’s only fitting that Benitez and Gayle have the club ready to rocket straight back up. There was plenty of risk involved with keeping on someone of Benitez’s pedigree, and therefore price, with the club dropping down. They spent big on both Gayle and Bournemouth’s Matt Ritchie, also spending hefty sums on Mats Selz, DeAndre Yedlin, Ciaran Clark, Mohamed Diame, and Grant Hanley.
There’s still plenty of time to go, but at the moment the Magpies look like the team to beat in the Championship, exactly what they hoped for after a disastrous last few years in the Premier League, plus two straight losses to start the year. Since, they’ve won 13 of 15, including eight straight, and calls for Mike Ashley’s head have quieted with the team five clear at the top.
Expect to see Newcastle back in the Premier League next season. Unless something goes horribly wrong, that is; after all, it’s Mike Ashley and the Championship.