The Newcastle transfer policy looks set to sink United and send them into the Championship.
Rafa Benitez was appointed with only 10 games remaining and landed with the debris of the past eight or so transfer windows.
Failure to build on the back of (2011/12) success, desperation signings when relegation threatens, no purchases in one period of almost 18 months, no players allowed over a certain age, Premier League experience deemed non-essential and ‘how much could he be worth in the future’ the mantra from Mike Ashley.
Rafa Benitez has already tried out 20 different players in only seven games in charge, eventually arriving at a ‘least worst’ scenario of which players he will be counting on in this great escape attempt.
No doubt a good handful of players who he would have assumed to be at the core of his survival strategy, then found wanting once he was on the inside.
After leaving the squad savagely weakened and stockpiling the TV surplus cash, Mike Ashley attracted much praise for ‘investing’ the club’s (not his) money over the past 10 months.
In May 2015, Newcastle only confirmed survival in their very final match against West Ham and Mike Ashley (in)famously declaring on TV:
”From this day forward, we will definitely be making our own luck. To be categorically clear, I’m not going anywhere until we win something.”
So yes Ashley at last allowed the money to be spent – but was the answer last summer to buy a 19 year old, two 20 year olds, a 22 year old and 24 year old, all from weaker leagues, then expect them to transform Newcastle United from relegation contenders into….a side destined ‘to win something’.
By his actions, Rafa Benitez has made clear exactly what he thinks of the Newcastle transfer policy of these last two windows…..
Florian Thauvin – Sent out on loan to Marseille
Aleksandar Mitrovic – On bench for both matches, came on as sub each game
Chancel Mbemba – Started in defence next to Lascelles both games
Ivan Toney – Sent out to League One outfit Barnsley on loan
Gini Wijnaldum – On bench for both games, second half sub each match
Seydou Doumbia – Left out of the entire matchday squad for both games
Jonjo Shelvey – Left out of the team and unused sub v Man City, last 7 minutes as sub v Liverpool
Andros Townsend – Started against Manchester City and Liverpool
Henri Saivet – Recalled to bench as unused sub v Man City, then dropped from squad v Liverpool
Only two of the nine signings made this past year by Newcastle started against Manchester City and Liverpool (two January signings not even in matchday squad at Liverpool).
With Wijnaldum, Mitrovic, Saivet, Shelvey and de Jong on the bench against Manchester City, that is some £50m+ worth of signings sitting the games out, with well over £40m of that spent in the past 10 months.
It is criminal that the same ramshackle Newcastle transfer policy was allowed to choose where over £80m was spent inside a year!
How much better off would Newcastle be, on and off the pitch, if they had recruited a manager of Rafa Benitez’ (yes I know he was at Real Madrid but Newcastle could have brought in another quality manager back then, rather than the nightmare that was Steve McClaren) calibre last summer and even if only half that £80m had then been made available for that manager to choose who the cash bought?