Prior to the start of the Premier League season the BBC’s Chief football writer, Phil McNulty, predicted how the table would look come the end of the campaign. Needless to say, few of his predictions came to fruition, though many were close to coming true.
However, one forecast which may have irked Newcastle fans in particular, was that the journalist suggested the Magpies would prop up the Premier League table, finishing 20th. Steve Bruce has even referenced such critic’s predictions in one of his recent press conferences saying that Newcastle were “everyone’s favourites to be relegated”, and McNulty certainly falls into that category.
However, reflecting on the decisions he made before the campaign, the BBC journalist admitted to his mistakes.
What did he say?
Writing on the BBC, McNulty said: “Hands up. Got his one very wrong. I was convinced Newcastle United would be relegated given the ill-feeling surrounding Steve Bruce’s appointment and the apparent miracle performed by Rafael Benitez.”
“Maybe not such a Benitez miracle after all as sound management by Bruce put them in a similar 13th placing without the over-blown reverence reserved for Benitez. Safe and sound,” added the BBC’s Chief football writer.
Proving the doubters wrong
While it has been far from a vintage Newcastle campaign, Bruce did successfully keep the Magpies in the Premier League, a low measure of success but better than what McNulty had predicted. Furthermore, he finished on 44 points, the same total as predecessor Benitez managed during his first Premier League season in charge at St James’ Park.
Stagnation is perhaps a better way to describe the season than success, but Bruce has had to endure numerous scenario’s which threatened to destabilise the club. He arrived to little fanfare and was much maligned as an “unambitious appointment”, while the terraces emptied due to a fan boycott. Bruce then experienced what he described as the worst injury crisis of his managerial career and has now endured takeover talks which have attracted international attention.
Despite all of the issues Bruce guided the Magpies to safety with six games to spare, after which Newcastle collected just two points. It’s hard to evaluate this season at St James’ Park, but one thing is for certain, Bruce exceeded McNulty’s expectations.