So, nine months after the 1-1 draw at home to Southampton under the (mis)management of Steve McClaren, we end the campaign buoyed by the thrilling 5-1 trouncing of Spurs under the stewardship of his world class replacement Rafa Benitez.
Anybody not knowing any different, would think we’d qualified for Europe or won a cup. Not at this club though.
A sensible or logical approach to running a football club is a no-brainer, but like I said, not at this club. Instead of doing things on the cheap or haphazard fashion, next season must be prepared for NOW, not six weeks time, not at the end of August, NOW.
Rafa Benitez has stated that he won’t be swayed by emotion in his decision to stay or go in the coming days/weeks and why should he?
If he was offered the job on his terms, he’ll accept, providing another club in the Premier league doesn’t come in and offer him a better deal. There appears to be no other clubs in the Premier League that will have an opening for him to slot into. The new deal offered to Pochettino thankfully ruling Tottenham out and his Anfield persuasion keeping Everton at arm’s length, might just leave us as the only option if Rafa wants to stay in England.
Our Premier League status was lost through various factors, be it the appointment of Steve McClaren, the refusal to sack Steve McClaren, bad recruitment etc, etc, but results ultimately proved the killer.
Our away record is diabolical but personally, the home form should also have been cause for grave concern. Defeats against Watford, Bournemouth and Everton, plus failing to beat Villa, at St James Park were all killer blows in our fight to survive. If a few more points had been taken against these sides we would have been safe.
Next season (ironically) the cups can go out of the window early doors for me, promotion is simply the only story for 2016/17.
Rafa Benitez’s success at Liverpool may have slipped under the radar of the casual Newcastle fan. Apart from the obvious Champions League triumph, in 2005/06 he guided them to FA Cup glory and finished in 3rd place in the Premier League, season after season he maintained top four status in the league and regularly got to the latter stages of the Champions League – no mean feat and he must be allowed the chance to take the bull by the horns and run the club his way.
I read in disbelief the stories this week reporting that Neil Warnock and Ryan Giggs were being touted as possible options if Rafa wasn’t to fancy it – unbelievable! If Mike Ashley, Lee Charnley, Graham Carr and Bob Moncur think this is the way forward for a club then next season supporters should vote with their feet and ensure attendances are below 20,000.
Talking about that quartet of power, Mike Ashley is going nowhere, like it or lump it, unless that is you know someone who has £250m+ kicking around doing nothing. But I see no reason whatsoever why Lee Charnley should still be in a job after appointing Rafa Benitez.
His final acts as Managing Director should be the appointment of Rafa and the dismissal of Carr, Moncur and himself – if he hasn’t the balls to do it then Ashley himself should.
The players themselves have gone down in my estimation rapidly over the course of the season and my opinion of them really hit rock bottom during the win over Spurs.
Were they previously playing to get McClaren the sack? They certainly weren’t putting themselves in the shop window over the first eight months or so, as if any scouts were watching them over that time, none of them would be snapped up by Gateshead never mind any Champions League club. Professional footballers, my arse.
Who should leave? Top of the list would be Sissoko, Janmaat, Wijnaldum and Mitrovic, all high earners we can ill afford down in the Championship and that’s before we get on to their actual ability to perform down there. The difficulty with next season is we actually need players who are up to Championship standard and there are many that have shown this season that that is probably their level. I’d personally sell Tim Krul as in Karl Darlow and Rob Elliot we have two very dependable goalkeepers, a third is simply not necessary.
The side for next season depends on two things.
Firstly, if Rafa stays, everything hinges on that.
But secondly, who actually has the stomach for the fight?
I’d base my defence around Lascelles and Mbemba and find two good solid full backs.
The midfield requires major surgery and alteration. Out go Sissoko, Thauvin, Cabella, Tiote, Wijnaldum, Saivet and Shelvey, Townsend and Aarons stay, Anita and Colback may have found their level and if anyone even thinks about shoving a contract in front of Taylor . .
The situation up front is the most important next season. We need goals, something we haven’t had in abundance for a number of seasons, but something that will be required over a 46 game season. We need to go to whichever side doesn’t get promoted this month and simply ‘pinch’ their striker, £10m, £15m whatever it takes. Riviere, Doumbia, Gouffran and Cisse can all leave.
My patience snapped with Mitrovic during the Spurs rout- he arrived with a red card, he should leave with this latest one. The funny thing was, the people I was standing with were just debating if he could be a cracking player in the Championship, the sending off seconds later not helping their cause, time to get rid. All this is irrelevant as players need buyers and our lot have expensive pay packets.
So for now then we await the next fortnight, which is the timeframe Rafa has indicated in interviews this week as to when his decision is to be made.
Until then, may I say a thank you to Lee Charnley for proving how incompetent he is, thanks to Graham Carr for giving the club a set of absolute donkeys not fit for the Premier League and finally a big tribute to Mike Ashley for presiding over relegation number two due to his stubborn attitude and methods as to how not to run a football club, despite all common sense and knowledgeable people stating otherwise.
It takes more than money to solve a football club’s problems Mike. Saying you’ll take a back seat and washing your hands of the situation doesn’t make you any less culpable, it makes you more so.
Making comments about horses and carts and stating aspirations of top eight and winning a cup only get rubbed in your face, when the opposite happens and lunatics are allowed to take over the asylum.
See you next season lads and lasses, hopefully we all come back in August with Rafa at the helm and a good side built to get us out of the Championship come May 2017. I mean, it only takes a bit of common sense . .