Sat 30 Dec 2023, 11:40 by Ash Harrison

Newcastle United year in review 2023 - June to December

Newcastle United year in review 2023 - June to December
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We now take a look back at the second half of the year where things got a bit interesting to say the least.

Having looked back on the first half of 2023 which was full of victories, cup finals and Champions League qualification, we now get to look at the back half of the year where it's all injuries, shocking defeats and whopping suspensions. Oh, joy.

It's not all bad, though, there were some quality wins for the Magpies, some memorable nights in the Champions League, a goal against Arsenal that still has them crying and the emergence of a wonderkid.

Buckle up for a wild ride

Sandro Tonali
Serena Taylor via Getty Images
Newcastle thought they'd snapped up a bargain

June/July

Nothing happened in June, it was rest time, but July was interesting at least. Throughout the month Newcastle would add to their squad with a shock £55million signing of one of the hottest prospects in Italy, Sandro Tonali. Nobody could quite believe AC Milan would let him go, and so cheaply too. More on this later. Eddie Howe finally got his man from Leicester and it wasn't James Maddison like we'd all been thinking for months. It turns out Howe was eyeing Harvey Barnes and it took £39million for him to make the move. Newcastle also signed Yankuba Minteh, a young winger with bags of potential, but he was sent immediately to the Eredivisie champions Feyenoord.

In terms of actual football, Newcastle got pre-season off with a trip over the river to Gateshead where they made a meal of things but eventually came away 3-2 winners. Then it was across the border to Scotland to take on Rangers where once again, victory would be ours in a 2-1 win.

The magpies then jetted off to the USofA for a Premier League Summer Series tournament which is about as American-sounding as it gets. Newcastle kicked things off with a 3-3 draw with Aston Villa then a 1-1 draw with Chelsea before Elliot Anderson nabbed a brace to see off Brighton in a 2-1 win.

August

Pre-season wasn't over as Newcastle held their own mini-tournament at St James' Park - The Sela Cup which saw the Magpies play two games in two days forcing Eddie Howe to come up with two separate starting lineups. Day one, Fiorentina were Newcastle's opponents and they were seen off 2-0 with goals from Alexander Isak and Miguel Almiron. Villareal were the next opponents and Harvey Barnes announced his arrival on Tyneside with two goals in a 4-0 win.

Fullbacks Tino Livramento and Lewis Hall would also join the Magpies in August bringing an end to the incoming transfers. The squad looked decent.

The season finally got underway on 12th August and Aston Villa were Newcastle's first Premier League opposition kicking off the campaign at St James' Park with a resounding 5-1 win. This was going to be our year.

Wait, not it wasn't as the fixture list threw up Manchester City and Liverpool after that and Newcastle would lose both of those fixtures taking the wind well and truly out of our sails.

Bruno Guimaraes
Getty Images
Bruno Guimaraes celebrates his goal in the 8-0 thrashing of Sheffield United

September

September didn't get off to a great start either with Brighton making it three defeats on the bounce for Newcastle. Luckily Brentford were up next at the fortress of St James and although it was far from convincing, Newcastle picked up a win to lift their confidence going into their first Champions League game in 20 years.

Newcastle travelled to the San Siro to take on AC Milan meaning Sandro Tonali got to go home much earlier than expected. While the Magpies weren't great they did manage to keep Milan at bay and returned to Newcastle with a Champions League point after keeping the score at 0-0.

That performance clearly lit a fire in the team as the boys would travel to Sheffield United and absolutely destroy the Premier League newbies 8-0 with eight different goal scorers. Unfortunately, that game would be the last we'd see of Harvey Barnes in 2023 with a mystery toe injury keeping him out ever since.

The Magpies got through to the next round of the Carabao Cup at the expense of Manchester City thanks to an Alexander Isak goal. September was rounded off with a comfortable 2-0 win at home to Burnley.

October

October was when the wheels really started to come off for Newcastle. We were picking up a new injury every game, we had several players missing with long-term absences and there was a massive poop storm surrounding Sandro Tonali after it was revealed that he'd been betting on games in which he played whilst at AC Milan - now we know why we got him so cheap. The Italy international was eventually suspended for 10 months and will now not feature for Newcastle until after the 2024/25 season gets underway - at least, as now the FA are conducting their own investigation which could see Tonali handed further punishment.

On the pitch, things weren't much better, thanks largely to the growing injury list and disruption. The month kicked off in style with a simply outstanding 4-1 home win in the Champions League against Paris Saint Germain in one of the most memorable Champions League nights ever. Unfortunately, we couldn't follow up that performance in the Premier League and were held 2-2 at West Ham before smashing Crystal Palace 4-0 at home. However, a defeat to Borussia Dortmund at home and a 2-2 draw at struggling Wolves ended the month on a sour note.

Chris Wood
Lee Smith via Reuters
Chris Wood scored a hat trick against his old club to put the icing on the cake for December

November

Again, the month started well with a surprising win. Drawn against a Manchester side for the second time in a row in the Carabao Cup, Newcastle humbled Manchester United in their own back yard this time, winning 3-0 and progressing to the quarter-finals where they'd be drawn against Premier League opposition for the third time in a row. That win was followed up by beating Arsenal 1-0 with the most controversial goal of all time, if you're an Arsenal fan that is. Several VAR checks couldn't prevent Anthony Gordon's winner from counting and the Gunners haven't stopped crying since.

It was back-to-back defeats in the Champions League for Newcastle as Dortmund once again got the better of the Magpies before Eddie Howe's old team Bournemouth grabbed a 2-0 win at the Vitality Stadium. A proper sickening blow.

Newcastle dusted themselves off and took their frustrations out on Chelsea who came to St James' Park to suffer a 4-1 hiding. That game gave us the confidence to go to the Parc de Princes and eke out a superb 1-0 win against Paris Saint-Germain - or it least it should have, but VAR awarded the hosts a penalty that never should have been, deep in second half stoppage time which Kylian Mbappe duly tucked away. Now Newcastle would need a result against Milan to stand any hope of staying in Europe.

December

Guess what? We started this month off well too. For the second month in a row we'd start off with a win over Manchester United. This one was less convincing but a win nonetheless. But that's where the good news ends for December as we'd go on to lose in the league to Everton, Tottenham, Fulham, Luton and Nottingham Forest whilst also being knocked out of Europe after failing to hold on to a lead against AC Milan, and also the Carabao Cup being knocked out by Chelsea on penalties.

Going out of the cups was bad, but the defeats to three relegation candidates in a month were just too much.

So we end the year with reports of Eddie Howe being for the sack and Kalvin Phillips being our saviour. With Liverpool being our first game of 2024 it's safe to say that things aren't getting any easier. Although we do like winning our first game of the month, so who knows?

Things can only get better

When you break it down month by month, things don't look as bad as they actually feel. December aside. December was just a dumpster fire all around.

Newcastle will have to recruit in January but will also have Jacob Murphy, Harvey Barnes and Joe Willock back soon, so surely things will start to get back on track soon. Also, we have Lewis Miley and as long as that kid continues to play like he is, we've always got that bright spot to look at. The 17-year-old has been absolutely phenomenal this season after being chucked in the deep end following all of the injuries, and he's the only one to come out of December with any credibility.

New Year New Mags. We've got this!

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