Newcastle United season in review: Takeovers, talking points and transfers  – what next for the Magpies?

Takeovers, transfers and plenty of talking points – the 2019/20 season is one that will live long in the memory, probably for all the wrong reasons.

Sunday, 2nd August 2020, 8:00 am

Here our writers Liam Kennedy, Miles Starforth and Jordan Cronin review the season that was, who impressed, who didn’t, who will walk, who stays and a whole lot more...

Player of the season

LK: "Martin Dubravka. Won more points than he lost, probably enough to keep United's head above water this season. If it was player post-lockdown it'd be ASM, but on the campaign Dubravka, Miguel Almiron, Federico Fernandez and Jonjo Shelvey (just) are ahead of him."

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - JULY 26: Dwight Gayle of Newcastle United celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Liverpool FC at St. James Park on July 26, 2020 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Football Stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in all fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Owen Humphreys/Pool via Getty Images)

MS: "Allan Saint-Maximin. There are a few contenders, notably Martin Dubravka, who got the club’s own award. But Newcastle United just weren’t the same without Saint-Maximin and his pace. If something happened in the final third of the pitch, the chances are that it was Saint-Maximin that made it happen."

JC: "Martin Dubravka was named as the club’s player of the season and I’ve got zero complaints. Yes, he has had a few blunders but he has comfortably earned Newcastle more points than he’s lost. There was a reason he pulled off the most amount of saves in the Premier League - it just highlights how much United relied on him at times. A class act and long may it continue. Best NUFC goalkeeper since Shay Given.”

Most improved

LK: "Javier Manquillo. Yes this one is controversial, I know. But he started the season as third choice right-back, ended it first choice and got a new contract for his versatility and consistency."

Steve Bruce.

MS: "Jonjo Shelvey. Not too many contenders for this one, and Shelvey is the player that stands out for me. The midfielder’s been more consistent, and he made an important goalscoring contribution, ending the season with six Premier League goals."

JC: "If we’re comparing 2018-19 to 2019-20 then I’d argue there is a case for Jonjo Shelvey, however over a longer period of time, it has to be Javier Manquillo for me. Although competition isn’t exactly the greatest, the Spaniard has become United’s first-choice right choice proved very dependable across the campaign. He completely deserved his new deal, even if three years did seem a bit excessive.”

Best young player

LK: "Probably the easiest question of the lot. Matty Longstaff was the only one to really break through.”

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - JULY 26: Dwight Gayle of Newcastle United and teammates warm up prior to the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Liverpool FC at St. James Park on July 26, 2020 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Football Stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in all fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

MS: "Matty Longstaff. Nobody could have predicted the impact that Longstaff, a player who was set for a loan to an EFL club, would have this season. The midfielder, a phenomenal athlete, quickly proved he could handle Premier League football, though not every team could handle his runs."

JC: "I’ll discount Allan Saint-Maximin, even though 23-year-old is a very young age! Matty broke onto the scene, scored twice against Man United, and never looked out of place when he played. I absolutely love the lad’s energy too - never stops running. It’s a huge shame that’s all we’ll see from him and that he wasn’t given more of an opportunity, especially after lockdown. I’m sure he’ll go on to forge a good career elsewhere.”

Favourite goal

LK: "In all the years I’ve been doing this job I’ve never ‘lost it’, bar once. You know what I mean? The professionalism, the straight face when the ball hits the back of the net. Earlier this season, that clean record went out the window and it was when Matty Longstaff cracked in against Man United on debut. I was so caught up in the drama of the whole thing, it felt like being back on the Gallowgate.”

MS: "Matty Longstaff v Manchester United (h). This was one of the defining moments of the season. A week after a 5-0 humiliation at Leicester City, Longstaff, then 19, scored with a superb first-time strike on his Premier League debut. You couldn’t make it up."

JC: "Local lad. Premier League debut. Manchester United. Gallowgate End. Winner. It had absolutely everything you’d want from a Newcastle United goal - it still gives me goosebumps now. Brilliant celebration as well - kissing the badge and that.

Best performance

LK: "To me there was only one real winner and that was the team one against Bournemouth. From one to 11 they were quality.”

MS: "Allan Saint-Maximin v West Ham United (a). Saint-Maximin was unplayable at the London Stadium, where Newcastle won 3-2. The winger tormented West Ham with his pace and trickery. Not everything came off - he even attempted a rainbow flick over Sebastien Haller - but this win owed everything to his extraordinary talent."

JC: "That’s what Saint-Maximin is, isn’t he? A performer? And he is a very good one at that. I’d argue he is the first player who has had the ability to get fans on the edge of their seats since Hatem Ben Arfa. He’s quick, powerful, fearless - he has everything required to become a top player and seems very down to earth. I really hope Newcastle can keep hold of him as he’ll only get better.”

Expected to leave

LK: "Atsu, Yedlin, Schar, Muto, Matty Longstaff will all likely go. Danny Rose might be priced out of a move, too, but who knows? Less players will likely leave compared to a normal summer, such is the quick turnaround.”

MS: " I’d expect a few departures, Yoshinori Muto being one. Christian Atsu and DeAndre Yedlin face uncertain futures after playing little football, while there’s also a question mark over Fabian Schar."

JC: "From the loan players, Danny Rose is the only one I’d keep. Nabil Bentaleb might be lucky to get a permanent deal but I very much doubt we’ll see Valentino Lazaro back - unless it’s another loan. DeAndre Yedlin wants gone, while Yoshinori Muto and Christian Atsu don’t seem to be in Steve Bruce’s plans. Oh, and I just remembered, Henri Saivet is still on the books…”

Who has to stay

LK: "Allan Saint-Maximin must be kept hold of and I would say Dwight Gayle must also, even if we do strengthen in that department. Isaac Hayden should be tied down to another deal asap as well for me. Miguel Almiron is key to this United side and must be cherished.”

MS: "All the key players, and I’d include Matty Longstaff, out of contract this summer, among them. There’ll be interest in Allan Saint-Maximin, but United must keep him at St James’s Park given his importance to the team."

JC: "Going purely off players I think will be linked with moves away - Almiron, Saint-Maximin and Dubravka must stay. Offload any of those three and Newcastle are in deep, deep trouble. Aside from those, Isaac Hayden has become a big player for United - it’s important he is tied down to a new deal.”

Steve Bruce - marks out of 10

LK: "5/10. He was a six but the end of season drop off disappointed me immensely. NUFC could and should have shown a little more resolve despite having ran their race. What do people say about teams who end badly? Yep, you know it!”

MS: "6.5/10. Bruce, appointed weeks into the club’s pre-season campaign, has had his ups and downs over the past 12 months, but he’s done exactly the job owner Mike Ashley asked him to do, which is keep the club in the Premier League. He also took the club to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. He took the job in challenging circumstances, and he's done OK."

JC: "6/10. He achieved what he was asked to do by the club’s unambitious ownership in a very unspectacular way. The football played was largely poor (pundits take note) and United did seriously ride their luck at times. Bruce deserves credit but let’s not get away from the fact it was another uninspiring season under Mike Ashley.”

Takeover or no takeover by September PL start?

LK: "No. I don’t think so.”

MS: "It’s very hard to see a takeover by then.”

JC: "Probably not, no. Not unless Amanda Staveley and co can somehow claw this back. I don’t buy into this Henry Mauriss bid one bit. Something doesn’t feel right about it.”

Predictions for next season

LK: "With some good additions the Premier League is so tight/poor in the middle United could jump up to the top half with little fuss. They could also go the opposite way if there are one too many Joelintons this summer.”

MS: "An improvement on this season’s 13th-placed finish should be possible. How much of an improvement? That depends on how much Mike Ashley is prepared to invest in a club he no longer wants to own.”

JC: "Now the takeover has gone flat, I’m not looking forward to next season in the slightest. We’re back to no hope and no ambition. Fans have become accustomed to relegation battles now - I expect next season to be no different.”

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