Are Newcastle fans in relegation denial? No.

I’d hazard a guess that the summer has given us all chance to reflect on the club’s relegation. I know I have. It remains a complete disaster. A shambles even Rafa Benitez couldn’t sort out in such a short timeframe.

And as the dust settles I’d like to nip one thing in the bud straight away – I’m certainly not in denial about the misfortune to have befallen Newcastle Utd. Far from it. It’s been torture.

If you venture into the world of social media there is an accusation doing the rounds that Mags have the blinkers on. That we’re acting as if demotion to the second tier never really happened. My response to that: codswallop, nonsense, drivel.

I can’t speak for all Newcastle fans, but I’ve not come across any who aren’t fully aware of our own recent plight and who is to blame for it.

Our opponents mistake it for the shreds of hope and positivity, missing for so many years, that Benitez has brought back into a club that is on its knees, one that appears to have finally allowed the manager a say in things.

This is a key strategic decision which has prevented the rancour I’d expected had we gone down with that wally in charge. This new approach must be left to stand if progress is to be made. The manager is the most important figure at the club, always.

Suggestions that Benitez is somehow a bad manager because he failed to get the results needed in the ten games are also rubbish. In my view the mess he inherited was so grave that even getting to within two points of safety was an achievement in itself.

August 6 looms large

The release of the fixtures brought home how short the turn around is before we get back on the rollercoaster. July’s going to fly past quicker than a Mackem banner.

Two things struck me about those fixtures.

First, September looks really tricky and the players, new and current, will have to really roll their sleeves up.

Second, we have a home game on New Year’s Eve. That seems daft. I can’t ever recall the team having to play on December 31. Then it’s a rapid turn around and a trip to Blackburn on January 2. This season will take its toll, so fitness is going to be a key factor.

Viva la Rafalution

I read with interest a view from another NUFC fan that he was nervous because no new players had arrived yet, while Charnley, Carr and Moncur all remained in place.

I see where he was coming from, though it’s still early. Progress will need to pick up pace during July. Charnley probably should be gone, but we look saddled with him. Doubtless he’s great at choosing what colour the paper cups in the coffee machines are, but is he up to running a football club?

On recent evidence, no he isn’t. He must cling on to Rafa, his one and only good decision, if he’s to avoid further scrutiny. Let the new manager work, he knows the game inside out.

Benitez’s ability to do public relations has been a breath of fresh air. Gone at a stroke are the summers of information vacuums and near silence. He knows how to use the media to get his message out. It’s not all that hard really, but his predecessors came up short.

A wander around the Mackems’ den

Just before last season got underway I found myself at the Stadium of Light with a work event.

It’s a ground I’d never previously visited, not even for a match. I’m no away day derby goer. I have driven past it on the rare occasions I’ve had to go to Sunderland, about twice in the last 15 years, but I’d never set foot inside it.

As I gazed out over their pitch that day I never could have imagined it was going to come down to us or them for survival. Yes, I had worries about Mac, but I called it wrong, I felt he’d deliver a mid-table finish.

It’s been a pretty horrendous experience being the butt of their jokes. I take solace that things can quickly turn around in football.

As for the Stadium of Light – I have to say the food was excellent. I couldn’t fault it at all. The toilets, to my amazement, had black and white tiles on the wall.