Newcastle United found big wins in odd places for the second-straight year, as Steve Bruce surprised many by holding steady to the reins dropped in his lap by the departing Rafa Benitez.
That doesn’t mean the season was all that good, or that he and half the players won’t be sent packing when the club’s controversial takeover is complete.
[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]
Below we give each Newcastle United player a grade, ranking and grouping them together based on their seasons so far.
If a Newcastle player is listed in this ranking it is because they’ve played in more than five games in all competitions.
Allan Saint-Maximin: With respect to a deep group of defenders, the team’s Player of the Year running is down to Martin Dubravka and the man they call ASM. For our money, it goes to the electric winger. The Magpies attack is insipid without him, and see the video under Willems’ description for a prime example of defenders’ terrifying respect for his creativity. #SuckedIn
Martin Dubravka: Simply put, the Magpies would be in the drop zone without their shot stopper. He’s had some tough moments, to be sure, but the Slovakian veteran has made more saves than anyone else in the Premier League and they haven’t been easy often; Eighty of his 117 stops have come from inside the 18.
Fabian Schar: One of the best transfer bargains of this decade in the Premier League.
Jetro Willems: Find yourself a left wing back this composed in the box, as Willems takes advantage of Manchester United’s ASM obsession with two deft moves to cue up a Matty Longstaff debut winner.
Federico Fernandez and Ciaran Clark: Steady as they go.
Miguel Almiron: There’s still a lot to do with the end product, but you get the feeling that the ex-Atlanta United star is really putting it together. Relentless.
Jonjo Shelvey: The team’s leading scorer with five goals. The only players in the PL to have completed more long balls this season are Rodri, Ruben Neves, and Granit Xhaka.
Sean Longstaff: The sophomore slump has been very real. At 22, he’s got time to define what made him one of the league-wide revelations of the 2018-19 season.
Matty Longstaff: A promising start to life with the first team, including that monster goal on debut to beat Manchester United. Will he leave without a new deal, or will new ownership give him what he wants?
Paul Dummett: It’s amazing how much better of a player he’s been since Rafa Benitez slid him inside the back line.
DeAndre Yedlin: It stings to write this given our shared home nation, but Yedlin has declined every year on Tyneside. Close to D territory, sadly.
Joelinton: A monumental disappointment in his first season at Newcastle, but closer to a C than many realize; The Brazilian has been a beast in the air and might thrive in a team designed to get him the ball more than once a half.
Dwight Gayle: A tremendous Championship player, it’s not his fault the Magpies haven’t sold him to a place where he can do his thing.
Yoshinori Muto: You feel he hasn’t really gotten a proper chance to do damage to Premier League defenses. It won’t be a surprise if he finds 8-10 goals at his next stop.
Valentino Lazaro, Ki Sung-yeung, Nabil Bentaleb