As soon as the final whistle blew between Newcastle United and Preston North End on Monday night, it was confirmed that The Magpies had secured automatic promotion to the Premier League.
After what can only be described as a comprehensive 4-1 win, it was a performance that showed why they are one of the top sides in the division.
It may come as a surprise but this season’s Newcastle side are just the 21st team to complete a return to the top flight the season after getting relegated.
They are only the 14th club in the history of the Premier League to achieve this feat. It was incredibly important that they did return at the first time of asking as there would be question marks over the future of star players and manager Rafa Benitez.
This season has been a successful one for the Magpies. They have scored the 2nd highest amount of goals (80) behind Fulham, and they have conceded the 2nd least amount of goals (40) behind leaders Brighton. Perhaps the 2nd place is where they belong!
The success that Newcastle have experienced this season has been helped by their prolific striker Dwight Gayle. The former Crystal Palace man could have played for a Premier League side this year but decided to take the step down and place his trust in Benitez.
It paid off. Gayle has scored 22 goals this season with the best shots on target ratio in the league (66%). He was even nominated for the EFL player of the season but was pipped to the post by Anthony Knockaert.
Straight after the win against Preston, Benitez called on owner Mike Ashley to invest in the squad once again this summer or the Spaniard may be forced to leave the club. After disagreements in the January transfer window, Ashley has to listen to his popular manager’s demands seriously or face a backlash once again.
Benitez wants his squad to be Premier League ready, and with strong foundations already in place, you can see his side succeeding next season.
However, with a 61% survival chance of sides who have returned after just one season away from the top flight, the investment has to be right. They cannot go and buy lots of fringe players, as they have in the past, leaving the manager with a selection dilemma each week.
One interesting thing to observe is how the newly promoted sides will fare in the last two games of the season. Brighton are still in a strong place, but a couple of slip ups would allow Newcastle to take the top spot.
It is a huge stretch, as the North East side are 4 points behind the leaders, but it is not beyond the realms of possibility.
It will be good to see a well-established club return to the top flight, and it could be good for the North East region, as it looks more than likely that they will lose two sides from the division; with Sunderland and Middlesbrough doomed for relegation.
However, they have to learn from the mistakes they made the previous two times they have been relegated, and key investment is the vital lesson.
Take note, Mike Ashley!!!.