The Newcastle players and management took another major step towards relegation on Saturday, last gasp defeat to Norwich a killer blow when even a draw would have been of little comfort to United.
I don’t blame Rafa Benitez for concentrating solely on how to approach these last seven games of the season in the most positive manner.
After all, they are the only priority at this moment in time, plus few of believe that the Manager will stay if the club are relegated, so there is little point in him looking beyond Sunday 15 May regardless.
With only six wins all season and probably needing at least four from the last seven to stand any chance of staying up, the odds are against survival…
We all must hope that it can still happen but no harm in any of us (the fans) looking beyond the next 40 days and what has to happen if relegation visits us again.
Concentrating purely on the Newcastle players, I think there are only four where it is crucial that they stay at St James Park.
The quartet that I see as essential are Aleksandar Mitrovic, Chancel Mbemba, Jonjo Shelvey and Andros Townsend.
If explanations are necessary….Mbemba is Newcastle’s only decent defender, Shelvey is obviously our best player, Townsend the only one who can take his man on and Mitrovic the sole striker capable of scoring goals as well as having a presence.
This doesn’t mean that I think all other Newcastle players should be cleared out, just an acceptance that nobody else is really essential to the job that would be needed to be done in the Championship.
We have to also accept that whatever else happens, there would be obviously be different financial implications if Newcastle make the drop.
The wage bill would need to be reduced and some player sales are inevitable.
What I would hope though is that if certain players were sacrificed (sold), that a certain amount of money would be made available to the Manager (Rafa Benitez hopefully…) for HIM to choose some players to put alongside the four named above.
Whilst we will all have long lists of who we would like to get rid of: Coloccini, Riviere, Gouffran, Ameobi etc, the reality is that the players who other clubs will want and who Newcastle might be able to get decent money for, will come from a different list.
I would like to think that Mike Ashley could, at the very best scenario, make maybe half the money from player sales available to try and bounce back at the first attempt.
So as well as what would no doubt be the popular sale of Moussa Sissoko, I think Gini Wijnaldum and Ayoze Perez should also be sacrificed.
The latter two players (as well as Sissoko) disappear for most of the game at the moment and dropping down to the Championship I don’t see them as doing any differently.
In better teams I think there is every chance of both Wijnaldum and Perez improving but it not playing for Newcastle in the second tier.
Guessing you could get £30m plus for those three in today’s market and then with a number of other sales such as Janmaat who will have interest in him, plus you pray some mugs will buy the likes of Tiote, Cisse, Thauvin and one or two others, Mike Ashley could be looking at raking back £50m or so.
If maybe £20m was made available, United could look to buy essential players such as an experienced and imposing centre-back to play alongside Mbemba, a decent left-back (and right-back if Janmaat leaves) and a speedy striker to complement Mitrovic.
Any of our three goalkeepers (Woodman makes that four but he needs more football to progress) should do a decent job in that division, whilst players such as Adam Armstrong and Siem de Jong can bring youth and experience to further help the blend that will be left.
You would also expect the loan market to be heavily used and no reason why Newcastle can’t attract some very good short-term players, if Ashley is prepared to allow money brought in, to be invested on trying to return to the Premier League.