The idea of having a ‘gap year’ is now a popular concept amongst those set to go to University, especially if they (their family!) have a few quid.

Heading off on a year of adventure, exploring new horizons, and enriching their lives for the future with some valuable life lessons. Before getting stuck back into ‘real’ work after the 12 months are up – that’s the theory anyway.

Newcastle United are in a loop, their gap year of 2009/10 appeared to be just what was needed to refresh the club and get it into the right shape for the challenges ahead…but in the longer-term it proved to have been a false dawn.

Life lessons hadn’t been properly absorbed and the same old problems became apparent, bit by bit.

A bit embarrassing having to repeat all of this again but IF it gets the club on the right track then this 2016/17 Championship adventure will have all been worth it.

Still a bit of trekking to do in this particular gap year, with visits to the wilds of Reading and Huddersfield still lying ahead before (hopefully) successfully returning to the proper work of the Premier League come August.

The gap year hasn’t been without incident and when no further funds were forthcoming in January, Rafa Benitez has had to make do with what was he handed at the start of this adventure.

If/when emerging back into the big bad old world of the Premier League, let’s all hope this current season proves a turning point and sees Newcastle United using it as a springboard to better times ahead, both on and off the pitch.