We’re up to part ten of our brief look at what happened in the past three seasons in our RTFM save. Seven to go after this one before the World Cup starts in our unique style. Today we’re looking at N, which means Newcastle United and Norwich City. These posts are Premier League focused as that’s highly likely where we’ll return to club management. On with the N’s…
Back in 2015, Newcastle finished 6th after a fantastic season under the stewardship of Stuart Pearce. The club spent £30m in the summer including the captures of Fábio Coentrão and Darren Fletcher (Manchester United), and Matt Phillips (Celtic).
With Europa League places going to Arsenal and WBA following their domestic cup wins, the Magpies were free to focus purely on the league, and built-up to the season with six unbeaten friendlies, and then… the proverbial hit the fan.
It took 14 games for Newcastle to record their first Premier League win, which came at the end of November at home to newly-promoted Blackpool. Up until then, the club’s only victories had come in the opening two rounds of the Carabao Cup, but progress to the Quarters was thwarted by Chelsea.
Pearce was relieved of his role, and replaced by Pasquale Marino who joined from Bologna. His first game in charge was a comprehensive 5-0 FA Cup Third Round win at home to Birmingham, but league results weren’t forthcoming with the club going seven matches without a win.
Norwich dumped them out the FA Cup, and the club could focus solely on their remaining sixteen league games. Wins against Bolton, Swansea, and Fulham gave Newcastle a chance at survival, but they couldn’t escape the bottom three. Defeats at home to Spurs and Liverpool proved the death kneel despite a final day win at Wigan.
Newcastle finished 18th – 9 points from safety – and were back in the Championship after six years in the top flight.
Following relegation, there was an exodus of players with 32 players leaving St James’ Park recouping £70m. Papiss Cissé left for Real Madrid (£10m), Fábio to West Ham (£6.5m), Balazs Dzsudzsak to Liverpool (£7m), and David Santon to Spurs (£15m) making up the majority of the income. Only one player arrived in the summer: Mehdi Benatia from Liverpool for £4m.
The season started well, with ten unbeaten at the start of the campaign before defeat in the Carabao Cup at Coventry. Newcastle remained in the top three but were blind-sided by manager Pasquale Marino’s departure for Aston Villa who had just sacked Steve McClaren.
Gary Bowyer took over in a caretaker role and the club were still able to convince Abdoul Camara to join from Marseille in a £6m January move. FA Cup wins over Reading and Blackburn came with goals from the new midfielder, but the club went out in the 5th Round at Southampton.
Able to concentrate solely on promotion, Newcastle went unbeaten in fourteen and stormed their way to the Championship title for the second time in seven seasons. Southampton and Playoff winners Cardiff would join them back in the top-flight.
Bowyer relinquished his caretaker role, but remained as assistant with the club announcing that club legend and former manager Lee Clark would take the hotseat. His appointment allowed the spending of £35m in the summer with deals for a dozen players including the £7.5m purchase of Wilfried Zaha from Bolton.
Just three defeats in their opening eighteen matches got Newcastle off to a strong start, as they hovered around the top six until a disastrous December saw the club take just one win and a draw in seven games. The new year turned a corner as they went unbeaten through January and they were set to meet Arsenal in the Carabao Cup Semi-Finals.
A First Leg 0-2 defeat at home looked to be the end of the cup run as two late Arsenal goals put the Londoners in charge of the tie, but Newcastle had other ideas. Camara scored inside two minutes in the away leg, and Darren Fletcher’s goal on the stroke of half-time put the wind up Arsenal.
Adam Campbell struck five minutes after the restart and Newcastle were flying. Chasing a goal to put them back in the tie, Arsenal were caught on the break and youngster Jimmy Salvin® scored on his début to seal a 4-0 win (4-2 on aggregate) and book a Final appearance against Stoke.
Juan Agudelo put Stoke ahead at Wembley early in the game, but teenage hero Salvin equalised inside the last fifteen minutes to force extra-time. It only took 65 seconds for one side to find the eventual winner, and it was Campbell who nodded home to win it for Newcastle for their first League Cup success.
A win, two draws and a defeat came in the following four games before a spectacular collapse of six straight defeats put Newcastle in the bottom three for the first time all season. Arsenal were beaten on the penultimate matchday leading to a final day winner-stays-up match at home to Wigan.
Ashley Harris and a brace from Wilfried Zaha had Newcastle 3-0 up inside half-hour before a late Wigan consolation that kept Newcastle up by 4 points and sent Wigan back to the Championship after thirteen seasons in the Premier League.
Norwich sealed automatic promotion to the Premier League in 2015 under the guidance of Pat Fenlon, finishing behind Reading. A handful of modest signings arrived, with the board not willing to risk everything on a likely relegation scrap. But that’s not what they’d get…
An opening day win against Liverpool got Norwich on to a great start but what would follow were periods of five or six unbeaten, followed by half a dozen games where Norwich couldn’t buy a win. One win in ten in the new year saw them start to spiral down towards the bottom three, which saw Fenlon replaced by Alan Curbishley and four wins in six lifted them back to 11th where they’d finish the season.
The board continued to play it safe in the summer transfer market with an outlay of just £15m being balanced against £13m of sales. Chris McCann (from Swansea, £2.5m) and Robert Snodgrass (to Everton, £3.5m) pretty much summing up the activity.
It took eight matches to get a win in the league, despite the side getting through to the Carabao Cup Quarter-Finals (where they lost to Spurs). Fortunes changed in the new year with just two defeats in twelve lifting Norwich out of the bottom three and buoyed by this new-found confidence wins came against both Sheffield clubs, Chelsea, Hull, and Liverpool as they booked a place in their first-ever FA Cup Final.
2015-winners Manchester City would await the Canaries at Wembley, a club sat second in the league a year after back-to-back Europa League Finals. After a goalless 90 minutes Marouane Fellaini gave City the lead but Ricky van Wolfswinkel had Norwich level before the extra-time break. Ángel, a £3m January capture from Blackpool, would score the winner for Norwich with just four minutes to play.
Three valuable points in May were enough to stay up by a single point as any two of seven clubs could have gone down on the final day.
It was once again a summer of limited spending at Carrow Road, with Andreas Cornelius the only significant signing as he arrived in a £5m move from Everton. The season started with defeat at Wembley to Chelsea in the Community Shield.
Three wins and a draw got the league off to a near-perfect start, with the club sat 3rd in the table ahead of their first European jaunt since 1993. Drawn against Benfica, Dinamo Zagreb, and Olimpija Ljubljana, the club would open their campaign witha draw in Slovenia followed by brilliant 1-0 win at home to Benfica.
Norwich then beat Dinamo 2-0 both home and away, before Olimpija were dispatched 3-1 at Carrow Road to book a place in the knockout phases ahead of the final match in Portugal which Benfica won 2-0.
As of Boxing Day 2017, Norwich were sat 7th in the table but then went nine without a win and slipped to 14th and went out of the FA Cup away at third-tier Oxford United. The club were drawn with Schalke in the Europa League, and despite a 1-1 draw at home in the First Leg, went down 1-2 in Germany.
Out of Europe and both domestic cups, Norwich could focus on their final twelve league matches and a change in form soon followed. With just one defeat in nine, the club lifted themselves back to 8th. Unfortunately, the club lost the final three games of the season and slipped one place back to 9th.