We’ve enjoyed Newcastle in the Premier League this season, with Rafa Benitez overseeing a reasonably successful return to the top-flight.
Benitez’s side are safe from relegation this term, and will be keen to build on their modest success next year.
They’ve been in and around mid-table most of this season, with the likes of Rob Elliot, Jamaal Lascelles and Joselu impressing.
But that’s reality, and we’re not interested in that.
So to make things a little more interesting, we decided to give the Magpies a bit of a boast at the start of the campaign by bringing in some of Rafa’s old favourites.
Ex-Liverpool goalie Pepe Reina has been consistently linked with a move to the Toon over the last year or so and while we very much doubt it’ll happen, it’s still a tantalising prospect for all of you romantics out there.
So, using the extreme accuracy of Football Manager, we simulated the entire season with Newcastle boasting Rafa’s old Liverpool trio of Reina, Xabi Alonso and Fernando Torres.
They may be past their best, but we reckon they can still do a shift or two.
Let’s take a look:
So there’s Reina, Alonso and Torres all in the black and white stripes of Newcastle.
Reina joins the Magpies from Napoli, where he continues to excel despite his advancing years, Torres is still banging in goals for his boyhood club Atletico, and Alonso played out his final season as a Bayern Munich player last year with typical class.
But in this reality, they’ll be doing all they can to keep Newcastle in the Premier League this season.
Can they do it?
Yes, it seems they can.
Newcastle finished a comfortable 12th place, 17 points clear of the drop zone.
And how did our trio do on their Premier League returns?
Pretty decent, it seems.
As you’d probably expect, Reina, Alonso and Torres were all regulars in the starting XI.
Reina proved to be a reliable goalkeeper, Alonso bossed the midfield alongside Jonjo Shelvey and Torres lead the line as a lone-forward.
Reina played 37 times between the sticks, kept 8 clean sheets and finished the season with a decent 6.98 overall rating.
Alonso’s final season before retirement ended with a 7.21 rating, but he managed only two assists and no goals during his stint on the northeast.
Torres fared better, scoring 15 times in 36 appearances – his best return of goals since his 2009/10 season at Liverpool – and ended with a 7.02 rating.
Life in the old boys yet, eh?