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Newcastle United: Rafa's revolution ready for EFL return

12 July 2016

Newcastle United are one of five newcomers to the EFL in Season 2016/17, and are preparing for life back in the Sky Bet Championship.

The Magpies were relegated to the division along with Norwich City and Aston Villa, while Cheltenham Town and Grimsby Town complete the 72 after securing promotion to Sky Bet League Two.

Read more: Grimsby are back, with Bogle and Ben

It's been a busy summer so far for Newcastle with a number of new faces arriving and, more importantly perhaps, keeping a certain manager at the club...

'The Rafalution'

Rafa Benitez's arrival at St James' Park towards the end of last season produced an upturn in results, but it was too late to prevent relegation to the EFL.

The Toon Army faithful had seen enough to believe that he was the man for the job though, and the Spaniard put pen to paper in May, signing an initial three-year deal.

CONFIRMED: Rafa stays at United 🇪🇸

— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) May 25, 2016
Benitez boasts an impressive CV; a Champions League triumph with Liverpool in 2005 sitting proudly among a string of honours. And his credentials have certainly had an impact in the transfer market, with Isaac Hayden the latest player to #JoinTheRafalution.


Hayden became the fifth new arrival of the close-season, joining from Arsenal, and he said his decision was an easy one after one meeting with Benitez.

“We had a good, two-hour long conversation” the 21-year-old, who was on loan at promotion-winning Hull City last term, told "He explained a few things to me, what to improve and what I'm good at.

“It was good to know he's been watching my games. For me, as soon as that meeting was done, I knew that this was the only place for me.”

Read more: Isaac Hayden – how meeting Rafa made my mind up

The versatile Hayden follows Mats Selz, Jesus Gamez, Dwight Gayle and winger Matt Ritchie – who won the Championship with Bournemouth in 2014/15 – to the club as Benitez looks to leave his own stamp on the squad.

Read more: A selection of stand-out summer signings in the EFL

EFL previous

Newcastle United dropped down to the Championship for the first time in 2009, but what followed was a season to remember for the Geordies.

Under the stewardship of Chris Hughton – last season's Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Year – Newcastle blew away all before them, storming to the title and securing a rapid return to England's top flight.

The Magpies went the entire campaign unbeaten at home, embarked on two seven-game winning streaks and lost just four of their 46 fixtures. Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan hit 17 goals apiece for the division's top scorers (90), and they also boasted the best defence, conceding a meagre 35 goals.

The last line of that defence, goalkeeper Tim Krul, is the only regular from that title-winning team still at St James' Park, after central defenders Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor departed this summer.

Haris Vuckic is another still at the club, making a couple of substitute appearances in 2009/10, and the Slovenian international can now lay claim to two EFL title triumphs, having helped Wigan Athletic to the Sky Bet League One crown while on loan last term.

Thank you for the memories @LaticsOfficial 🔵⚪️

— HarisVučkić Official (@VuckicHari29) May 16, 2016
Follow the Magpies!

Newcastle United will get the 2016/17 season under way, when they visit Fulham for the big kick-off on Friday 5th August 2016 - a game you can watch live on Sky Sports.

Read more: #FixtureReleaseDay – EFL Season 2016/17 fixtures announced




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