Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom takes positives despite season tailing off

Newcastle Uniteds Ayoze Perez, second left, celebrates scoring his sides first goal against Barnsley.

Newcastle Uniteds Ayoze Perez, second left, celebrates scoring his sides first goal against Barnsley.

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BARNSLEY manager Paul Heckingbottom was disappointed with his side’s performance in a game that saw hosts Newcastle United claim the Championship title, but reflected upon a satisfactory season for the South Yorkshire club.

He commented: “When the fixtures came out, with me living in the area down in Barnsley and speaking to fans, people working for the club, the board, the phrase that kept coming out was, ‘I hope we’ve not got to go to Newcastle and get something to stay up’.

It was tough losing lots of players in January, but we have been competitive ever since as well so it’s credit to everyone

Barnsley boss, Paul Heckingbottom

“It never came about – at one point, we were chasing the play-offs.

“Obviously it was tough losing lots of players in January, but we have been competitive ever since as well so it’s credit to everyone, all the staff, all the players, how hard everyone has worked.

“On reflection, I have to be really, really pleased, and we have learnt a lot in this season as well.”

His opposite number Rafael Benitez will head into a meeting with Newcastle owner Mike Ashley next week hoping the club share his ambition for the title winners.

The Magpies clinched the crown in a dramatic late twist on the final day of the season to leave the Spaniard, who could not prevent them from slipping out of the Premier League 12 months ago, having added silverware to the minimum requirement of promotion.

Benitez signed a three-year contract when he agreed to stay at St James’ Park in May last year, but has hinted that his continued presence could depend on what Ashley has to say about the future, although he is hopeful of a positive outcome.

Speaking after his side’s victory over Barnsley, he said: “I have already an idea, I think he has an idea. Now we have to put both ideas together and hopefully it will be fine this week.”

Ashley made a rare visit to St James’ yesterday afternoon to witness the scenes as the win, coupled with Brighton’s failure to collect three points following concession of a late goal at Aston Villa, handed Newcastle the trophy.

Goals from Ayoze Perez, Chancel Mbemba and substitute Dwight Gayle secured a deserved victory for Newcastle and Jack Grealish’s late goal denied Brighton the title following a mistake by David Stockdale.

Newcastle United: Elliot, Yedlin, Hayden (Haidara 13), Mbemba, Dummett, Atsu, Shelvey (Diame 72), Colback, Gouffran, Perez (Gayle 80), Mitrovic. Unused substitutes: Lazaar, Anita, Darlow, Murphy.

Barnsley: Davies, Janko, Adam Jackson, MacDonald, Elder, James, Hedges (Watkins 55), Scowen, Moncur, Kent (Williams 74), Bradshaw (Lee 74). Unused substitutes: Townsend, Evans, Mowatt, Jones.

Referee: J Linington (Isle of Wight).

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