Newcastle United ended their Premier League campaign on a high with a 2-1 victory at Burnley.
Eddie Howe was determined to see the Magpies win on the final day of the season, although knowing fine well that would likely see his former club relegated.
But allegiances went out the window. United had a job to do and a brace from Callum Wilson meant Maxwel Cornet’s goal for the Clarets was nothing more than a consolation.
With that, Newcastle recorded their best top-flight points total in eight years, though narrowly missed out on a top 10 finish.
Here, our writer Jordan Cronin picks out his FIVE talking points from the game.
What could have been - and thankfully it was avoided
Not so long ago was a trip to Burnley on the final day of the season labelled as a Premier League relegation decider.
However, as we know, only the home side had such high stakes riding on them. Meanwhile, United were eyeing an unlikely top 10 finish.
Sadly for the Clarets, they slipped at the final hurdle as they joined Norwich City and Watford as those who drop into the Championship for next season.
To be completely free of all relegation worries at Turf Moor again re-emphasises the remarkable job Howe has carried out since being appointed head coach in November.
It could have so easily been Newcastle. But with 38 points collected in 2022, bettered only by Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham, Howe & Co have miraculously overachieved.
At one stage, when Brighton were losing to West Ham, it looked as though a top 10 finish was about to happen but the Seagulls turnaround meant United were content with 11th.
We’ve said it time and time again but for Howe’s side to finish 11/20 with their best points total (49) in eight years really shouldn’t go unnoticed, *cough* manager of the season *cough*.
Remember, this is a club that didn’t win any of their opening 14 games.
Perhaps it does show that with four or five quality signings this summer, Newcastle aren’t actually that far away from challenging the top seven, with 7th place West Ham finishing with just seven points more.
A cruel end for Joelinton
A cruel end to a season of extraordinary transformation for Joelinton after sustaining a deep laceration, i.e a deep cut, which forced the Brazilian off on a stretcher just 11 minutes in.
It was a horrible sight for the Magpies fans inside the ground and those following from home as the club’s player of the season departed to a classy round of applause from all four Turf Moor stands.
Howe revealed afterwards the wound was that deep you could see his bone.
Joelinton left Lancashire wearing a protective boot but was in “good spirits”, which is an encouraging sign and hopefully hints at a return in time for pre-season in July.
Heeeey, Callum Wilson
Newcastle head into the summer transfer window intent on signing a striker but if there were guarantees over Wilson’s fitness, then perhaps they wouldn’t need to.
In his two starts against Arsenal and Burnley, the 30-year-old has shown exactly why United have missed him, no matter how positive the results were when Chris Wood was leading the line.
For the second time in six days, he looked strong, sharp and this time, clinical as his brace fired his side into a two-goal lead before the hour-mark.
Gary Lineker said last week “if Wilson could stay fit he’d be one of the best strikers in the Premier League”. It’s hard to disagree.
And it was probably for that exact reason why £20m Wilson ended up at Newcastle at the time he did rather than be snapped up by a club already competing at the top.
Stay fit however, and Wilson is capable of keeping any potential striker signing out the starting XI.
Matt Ritchie’s farewell appearance?
Was that Ritchie’s farewell appearance?
In what seemed like a nice touch by Howe, the 32-year-old was brought on for the remaining five minutes at Turf Moor.
There was no waving to the away end at full-time from Ritchie but in many ways, it feels inevitable he will depart this summer.
No manager loves Ritchie more than Howe does with their relationship previously blossoming at Bournemouth.
And while that’s undoubtedly continued on Tyneside, game time just hasn’t followed - last starting a Premier League game in December.
With that, there is a sense of realism on both sides that Ritchie’s career at Newcastle has come to a natural end.
And it goes without saying, what a servant he has been.
For £10m, the Magpies got their money’s worth as soon as Ritchie played a leading role in promoting the club out of the Championship.
But his six years at St James’ Park has brought much more than that, with his leadership in the dressing room and commitment to the cause second to none.
Ritchie is unlikely to be the only member of the 2016 class who leaves in the coming months, with Dwight Gayle, Isaac Hayden and Ciaran Clark also admirable servants.
Onto an exciting summer - and next season
In the words of Howe, the planning for next season starts now. It’s often a cliche but for United’s meticulous head coach, it’s true.
First and foremost, pre-season plans need to be ironed out after the club’s tournament in the US was called last week.
Elsewhere, meetings about potential transfers have taken place over the last few weeks and only time will tell if Newcastle act fast, or remain patient.
Either way, it’s such a contrast from January.
There was pressure to get deals done, and certainly their position in the Premier League table restricted the club to who they could attract.
But in the summer, everything resets. And you get the feeling some players need no second invitation to join Newcastle, with the feeling among the fanbase and ambitions stronger than ever.
Enjoy the ride, because it’s going to be an exciting summer.