Newcastle showed great defensive organisation and a stubborn ability to withstand long periods of heavy pressure. In the end this not only brought safety early, but allowed the Magpies to achieve a very respectable finish. Probably crucial for the comfortable end to the season were the results achieved in November and early December (W4 D2 L1).
Undoubtedly the defensive stability of the team was their main strength with their 10 clean sheets the best tally amongst the teams in the bottom half of the table. Goalkeeper Dubravka deserves huge praise for his many saves, with captain Lascelles and left-back Willems (at least up until his serious injury in late January) also very influential.
The big issues were going forward with the record summer-signing Joelinton scoring only 2 league goals all campaign. Almiron and Saint-Maximan also struggled for goals and nearly 40% of their goals this season were scored by defenders, emphasising the attacking problem.
Coach Bruce deserves praise for achieving survival early, especially considering the many injury issues once the season resumed in June. None of the strikers deserve much credit though, all of the forwards underperformed.
Off-the-field issues remain a major concern with the ownership saga unfolding in Newcastle for over 18 months now. Only if this farce is finally over and a new owner is found can the Magpies hope to have a better season next term. If not, they will be struggling to survive once more.