The title is not a given this year for Newcastle United despite our good work in pre-season.

Teams can never been too good to go down and clearly when we went down both in 2009 and back in May, we got we deserved.

However, on both occasions we went down with a squad of players that ‘should’ have done better than they did. So I don’t accept that they went down because they were poor players.

I’ve seen my club relegated twice in my time. They went down this time because they were good players who simply didn’t do well enough; they didn’t perform for whatever reason, be it not playing for with the manager, or simply not self-motived, who knows.

For me, it was most likely because they didn’t believe in the head coach or his methods; a head coach who was given far too much time to fail.  Not even Rafa had the time to put right and keep us in the premier league despite the obvious impact he had on the players. For me he is completely blameless in Newcastle’s relegation.

Yes we went down with him in charge. However, the way I see it, he brought nothing but positivity to a club who was steeped in a losing mentality.  No one believed in what McClaren and the board were trying to do and that seeped down to the players. In the end it was too much.

Still, it’s done. It’s in the past.

I’ve always said that I don’t recommend relegation to any club.   I also shared in a previous article on The Mag that I always had an inkling that Rafa would stay.  The fact that Rafa came at all was the start of a massive change at Newcastle for the better.

The Rafa effect was already starting to work at the end of last season and if it was working, it’s working even better now in every way.  The players we’ve signed; the work the club is doing in the community; the ever improving communication with the fans via press and social media, these are all very positive things.

But with the Fulham game getting ever closer there comes a time when we have to put that aside and realise that this is where the real work begins.  Football is a results business and Rafa knows that as well as anyone.

Fulham will be a tough game and we’ve by no means rid ourselves of all our demons defensively.  If it doesn’t all go our way on Friday night, let’s just keep our heads and stay with the team. Whatever happens, championships and promotions are not won in the first few weeks but they’re certainly not lost either.  I really do believe Rafa’s plans will come together even if they don’t right away.

My main point is, let’s not expect too much too soon but take it in if it happens, make sure this great pre-season doesn’t go to waste.

I just hope through all our new-found confidence that we remember promotion will not just be handed to us on a plate.

You can follow the author on Twitter @jonniegrieve.