It may be more than three years since a north east team represented the region in Europe, but recent transfer and managerial talk has kept the areas sporting exploits in the news.
It was during the 2013 season when Newcastle were bravely beaten by Portuguese giants Benfica on aggregate which last saw a competitive European fixture take place north of Hull.
But one relegation later- just a short time after the highs of visits to Moscow, Bruges and Bordeaux and all positivity for the Magpies seemed to have disappeared.
Enter Rafael ‘Rafa’ Benitez. The Champion’s League winning ex-Real Madrid manager has brought a feeling of optimism not seen since the days of Kevin Keegan, and has ensured all eyes remain on the ‘Rafalution’ on Tyneside, with internationally known names Jesus Gamez and Matz Sels signing up for a season in the Championship.
Just down the road in Middlesbrough, headlines are also being made thanks to another man with links to the Spanish capital. Aitor Karanka guided the ‘Boro back to the Premier League after seven years and along with it, a chunk of the new £5bn TV deal.
The Teessider’s have wasted no time in bringing in new faces. Despite the riches at their expense former Barcelona and Manchester United goalkeeper Victor Valdez has joined on a free transfer and there are rumours of Robin van Persie teaming up with the Reds.
The region’s third manager Sam Allardyce of Sunderland has also been making the news being installed as favourite for the England job after Roy Hodgson resigned after a disappointing Euro 2016.
Allardyce is yet to sign a player at Sunderland this summer, but with links to the biggest job in football, Sunderland is sure to gain lots of attention over the coming months.
It all means that the traditional hotbed of football is still at the centre of it all, with the world’s collective eyes fixed on the footballing triangle.
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