By Matt Farr
Ex-midfielder John Barnes believes the Newcastle fans deserve credit for making the club such a ‘special’ place.
Newcastle sealed immediate promotion back to the Premier League with a thumping win over Preston last month, but maintained their form to snatch the Championship title away from Brighton on the final day of the season.
Barnes, who spent two years at Newcastle, shared his delight at the club’s achievement this season, but reserved special praise for the influence of the St. James’ Park support throughout their success.
He told the Chronicle: “I was delighted to see they got promoted – particularly for the fans. What makes Newcastle particularly special for me is the fans.
“Even when I was there and we weren’t doing particularly great – Alan (Shearer) got injured and we were mid table – the fans continued to turn up in their droves and they will support the club through thick and thin.
“They deserve success and while they were favourites to come up that tag can weigh heavy on your shoulders.”
Newcastle’s Championship title victory appeared an unlikely outcome following the shock 3-1 defeat to Ipswich last month, with Rafa Benitez’s side chasing a seven-point deficit with just three games remaining.
However, an up-turn in form for Newcastle, coupled with a purple patch for then league-leaders Brighton, saw the Magpies overturn their deficit in a dramatic late turnaround.
Benitez himself has received tremendous praise for his efforts since committing his future to the club at the start of the season, while several of the club’s key players, such as Dwight Gayle and Jonjo Shelvey, also drew the plaudits.
However, Barnes reserved particular praise for the club’s loyal fanbase following their endless support, which never ceased despite their relegation to the Championship at the end of last term.
In other Newcastle news, this defender is set to quit the club this summer as Benitez’s summer overhaul begins.