As Chelsea made their way around the pitch the only voices that could be heard were in the Newcastle end!
Newcastle United’s team bus had just pulled away when Frank Lampard was whisked through the back door after his final game as Chelsea boss.
And with Newcastle heading up the road happy after sealing a Champions League spot, they’d barely turned off the King’s Road before a new threat to their coveted top four status was emerging. Indeed, the final whistle on the season had only blasted an hour or so before when Chelsea were preparing the paperwork for Mauricio Pochettino’s return to English football.
Under Poch, Chelsea should be back to full strength again and he will be allowed a summer spend but Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa will also feel they could be in the mix. Newcastle have thrown down the gauntlet to their Premier League rivals and next season will be tough.
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Chelsea fans were rattled by Newcastle yesterday as their own end of season lap of appreciation was effectively highjacked by Geordie celebrations. But they had earned the right to enjoy it and next term will be just as exciting a challenge for manager of the year candidate Eddie Howe.
The Toon boss enjoyed the celebrations at the end, but in typical fashion he was already thinking of next season’s challenge. Chelsea won’t roll over for a second season in a row and nor will any rivals.
Howe said: “Success is very rare in football. “It’s really hard to deliver so when you do get it, it’s really nice to share it with an amazing group of supporters. They backed us home and away, so for those two or three minutes we were with them meant everything.”
So next season’s visit to Chelsea will be undoubtedly tougher with a new manager in the dugout at Stamford Bridge. Delighted bosses Owners Todd Boehly, Behdad Eghbali, José E. Feliciano, Mark Walter and Hansjörg Wyss said the day after the final game of the season: “The sporting team conducted a diligent and thoughtful process that the Board is proud of. We are delighted that Mauricio will be joining Chelsea. Mauricio is a world-class coach with an outstanding track record. We are all looking forward to having him on board.”
Newcastle know the hard work starts now to keep up their remarkable rise. But there’s never been a better time in the modern era to be a Toon fan.