Newcastle United 21/22 Review: A Season of Two Halves

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Joelinton Newcastle United

Joelinton of Newcastle United celebrates with teammates after scoring his side’s first goal against Norwich City. (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)

Player of the Season: Allan Saint-Maximin

This choice may divide opinion, but when identifying players that offered an impact during both the positive and negative segments of the season, the list runs thin. In fact, it potentially starts and ends with Allan Saint-Maximin. Often seen exhibiting the fleet-footed ability of a ballet dancer as opposed to a footballer, the Frenchman got fans off seats both before and after the watershed. Offering tangibles also, he has the most goal involvements among his teammates this season (10) alongside the most successful dribble per game in the Top-Flight (4.2).

Most Improved Player: Joelinton

Arguably the most highly contested award given the collective improvement seen at Newcastle, yet the one in which there will be no arguments regarding the recipient. Joe Willock, Jonjo Shelvey and Fabian Schar are among the names who have seen their career on Tyneside revived under Eddie Howe, but none more so than Joelinton. Signed as a striker for a reported £40m ahead of the 2019/20 season, the Brazilian initially proved ineffective and became symbolic of Newcastle’s previous owner’s ineptitude. Thanks in large part to the foresight of his new manager, Joelinton has undergone a position-change to a box-to-box midfielder which has in effect seen his stock rise astronomically.

Unsung Hero: Jonjo Shelvey

The holding midfielder position appeared one of weakness for Newcastle this season and went surprisingly unaccounted for in their January business. Implementing a 4-3-3 formation, the player tasked with anchoring the midfield three is vital to Howe’s system. Due to the lack of options in the role, the English manager sided with Jonjo Shelvey whose standing at the club had ebbed and flowed in the near eight years since signing. In response to the newfound responsibility, the 30-year-old displayed the kind of reliability not seen in his career until that point, masking a problem area for Howe and co. Right-back Emil Krafth was a close second for this award after filling in admirably in new signing Kieran Trippier’s absence.

Signing of the Season: Bruno Guimaraes

Despite the sole summer signing, Joe Willock, re-finding his form under Howe, the candidates for this award are restricted to the winter arrivals. Full-backs Matt Targett and Kieran Trippier have provided assurance as well as Dan Burn whose impact has transcended his personal contribution to the improvement seen in centre-back partner Fabian Schar. As a result, he was in contention, but the addition of Bruno Guimarães eclipses that of the Ex-Brighton man. Accomplished both defensively and in an attacking sense, the Brazil international has forged a lethal partnership with fellow countryman Joelinton and looks set to lead Newcastle United’s new dawn.

Flop of the Season: Jamal Lewis

Once a target of Liverpool’s while at Norwich, full-back Jamal Lewis made a positive impression after signing prior to the 2020/21 season. His involvement has proven sparse in 2021/22 leading to replacements being drafted in with reports of a summer exit heightening.

Rating: 7/10

If we were rating the two halves of the season respectively, the result would be more extreme either way. It couldn’t have been much worse last year but in 2022 Newcastle’s rise has gone above and beyond what anyone could have expected.

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