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Newcastle Face Huge Season in the Championship

Newcastle United suffered their second relegation from the Premier League in the past seven years after watching bitter rivals Sunderland beat Everton.

The Magpies’ fate was all but sealed as they failed to claim victory over bottom-of-the table Aston Villa, which allowed their bitter rivals to send them plummeting into the Championship.

They now face the brutal reality of life outside the top flight, with a huge reduction in their television revenue and a demanding schedule of 46 matches.

Owner Mike Ashley and managing director Lee Charnley have the biggest challenge of all to convince Rafael Benitez to remain at the club and try to guide the Magpies back into the top flight at the first attempt.

The Spaniard was brought to the club in March to replace the sacked Steve McClaren, and although Newcastle showed improvement under his tenure it was not enough to keep the Tynesiders in the top division.

Newcastle fans are desperate for the 56 year old to remain at St James’ Park and, should he consent to stay, it would make the Magpies one of the frontrunners in the early Bet365 Championship odds.

However, even if the Spaniard is still in the dugout come the start of the new campaign, the North East outfit may still have issues in their quest for an instant return to the Premier League.

Following their last relegation, Newcastle were able to keep the core of their Premier League squad, with only Michael Owen and Mark Viduka seeking moves away from the club.

This time around it will be a harder task, and they will have to rely on younger talent to plug the gaps left by potential departures due to a drop in television money, from around £100m to £30m.

Several players are likely to leave the club over the course of the summer, with high-priced signings Georginio Wijnaldum, Jonjo Shelvey and Andros Townsend expected to be among those exiting, along with Tim Krul and Fabricio Coloccini.

There could be hope of convincing Chancel Mbemba, Jamaal Lascelles and Aleksandar Mitrovic to remain as the core of the team, while young players such as Adam Armstrong, Rolando Aarons and Kevin Mbabu could come to the fore in the second tier.

Seven years ago, the Magpies eased to promotion, collecting 102 points from their 46 matches. One of the driving forces behind their run to the Championship crown was the rise of Andy Carroll.

The striker scored 17 goals in 39 appearances to guide his team back into the top flight, before he secured a lucrative move to Liverpool in the following campaign.

Should Newcastle receive a similar contribution from Mitrovic or Armstrong, who has notched 20 strikes for Coventry City albeit in the division below, their stay in the second tier could well be brief.

The club’s form at the back improved under Benitez due to the performance of Lascelles and Mbemba and, if they can retain the services of both players, Newcastle will boast the best centre-back pairing in the second tier.

Benitez need look no further than the example of Middlesbrough, who built their promotion campaign through the strong performances of Daniel Ayala and Ben Gibson.

There is plenty of uncertainty over the Tynesiders’ future, but there could be light at the end of the tunnel when they start their season in the Championship next term.

It will be a tough grind and as their Teesside rivals have proved, getting out of the second tier is a huge challenge and becomes only harder as time passes.

Next season could well be the biggest campaign in the history of Newcastle United in their bid to return to England’s elite at the first attempt

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