On the 15th of March 2015, Newcastle United were humbled at the hands of Everton in a 3-0 defeat, one of nine losses suffered in a 10 game run during a season in which the Magpies scraped survival by the skin of their teeth.
In charge at the time was John Carver, the self-proclaimed best head coach in the top flight, but his record of just three wins in his 20 matches in the dugout suggested otherwise, and it was a time of disharmony and unrest among the Newcastle supporters.
Just under a year later, on the 5th of March 2016, the Toon Army were left to witness their side slip to a bitterly disappointing 3-1 defeat at the hands of Bournemouth, in what proved to be Steve McLaren’s final game in charge; again, the supporters left furious with the running of their club.
Six days later and the former England man was out the St James’ Park exit door, being replaced by former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez in a move which stunned not just the Newcastle fans but English football as a whole.
Relegation followed but the Spaniard remained, putting pen to paper on a three year deal before guiding the Magpies back to the top flight, assembling a squad which made up for any lack of talent with a never-say-die attitude and the determination to succeed where others have failed.
Jump forward two years on from Benitez’s arrival, and the St James’ Park faithful are cheering their side on to a mighty impressive 3-0 win over Southampton on Tyneside, a result which could go a long way to their survival hopes come the end of the season.
Benitez has changed the feeling on Tyneside since three years ago; not only has he transformed a talented but selfish squad into a team fighting tooth and nail for each other, but he has galvanised the spirit of the supporters, taking the feeling of apathy and turning it into a sense of passion and pride.
His two years in charge have rebuilt the club since both the defeats to Everton and Bournemouth, but with just one more year left on his contract, it is time for Mike Ashley to seal the deal for the Toon Army hero.
Doing so will guarantee not only keep the fans on side until his eventual departure, but gives the club the best chance of future success, something which is long overdue at St James’ Park.
In other Newcastle United transfer news, the club must make a move for a £20million striker available in summer.