Newcastle are back where they belong this season, rubbing shoulders with the big boys in the Premier League with Rafa Benitez at the helm.
Benitez’s boys sealed promotion by finishing top of the Championship last season, with the likes of Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle leading the goal scoring charts for the Magpies.
One happy RafaThey’ve started slowly this season, but the likes of Rob Elliot, Jamaal Lascelles and Joselu have impressed throughout.
But that’s reality, and we’re not interested in that.
To make things interesting, we decided to give the Magpies a little bit of a boast by bringing in some of Rafa’s old favourites.
In fact, ex-Liverpool goalie Pepe Reina has been consistently linked with a move to the Toon this month, which is a tantalising prospect for all of you romantics out there.
So, using the extreme accuracy of Football Manager, we simulated a whole season of Newcastle’s season in the Premier League and gave them the 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.
Can they do it?
Yes, 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 all made it into 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 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.
In reality, it’ll be interesting to see how the Magpies do this season.
So far, the Toon have enjoyed a mid/bottom of the table stay, but don’t look quite like relegation candidates just yet.