So then, we have the first baby steps of the summer transfer activity underway at St James Park…OK, so no actual movement has actually taken place, but posturing and mind games are afoot and dealings will no doubt be occurring sooner rather than later in readiness for our response to the unfortunate demotion to the Championship.
There will be much talk over the coming days/weeks on the future of the so-called ‘star’ Newcastle players, where they will play next season and how much money we can gain from other clubs for their service. Quite frankly, whilst I want the most money possible, I’m not as concerned with getting top whack from other clubs, as much as I am bothered with getting certain wastes of space out of the club.
My prime suspects are obvious as they are so high profile and complicit in our downfall last season. Public enemy number one at the minute seems to be Moussa Sissoko and to anyone that thinks he’s a good player, ask yourselves the simplest of questions…
How many goals did he score last season?
How many games did he influence or really shine in?
His attitude stinks.
Second in rogues gallery is Georginio Wijnaldum. Along with his midfield mate, we have two people who should be primed for Premier League football: strong, athletic, good technical ability and both have an eye for goal. Sadly, due to the same awful attitude, these two have been major players in our relegation and in the case of Sissoko, the bad times have vastly outweighed the good over the course of his time here.
There are others who should be instantly dispensed with, next up being Fabricio Coloccini and Daryl Janmaat – the captain’s contract extension at the start of last season being the beginning of the end of our Premier league status.
Put simply, apart from a two season blip, his performances have been substandard at best, catastrophic at worst, and when your captain doesn’t want to be at the club, you know you’re in trouble, something the powers that be knew this to be the case over three years ago.
In the case of Daryl Janmaat, you simply can’t have a full back that goes missing as often as he does. I can take on board that he’s good at going forward, but I’d rather my full back do his primary job and defend properly – let others fly up the wing to support the attack.
Just as you can’t bank on players who only turn up for half a dozen games a season, you also can’t build a team based on three of four solid performers out of a match day eleven.
Last season we had only a few players who could hold their heads up and be acquitted of any blame whatsoever for the sorry mess we found ourselves in.
These players for me were Andros Townsend, Rob Elliot, Karl Darlow, Jamaal Lascelles and Chancel Mbemba and it’s these players (with Adam Armstrong definitely added to the mix) that should provide the basis of the squad next season.
Whether this select few want to stay and put right what they had a hand in last season is open to debate, only they and their agents will know that. Despite Rafa Benitez stating that he has final say on who stays and who goes, it’s still very much down to the Newcastle players themselves.
The inevitable question then shifts to who comes in to supplement the ones who stay and I personally would like to see a Championship standard striker come in who may be able to make the step up if/when we get back to the Premier league.
Moussa Dembele at Fulham would tick many boxes, Chris Martin (the Derby County player not the singer) would also be a good acquisition as I see him as a Kevin Nolan sort of player and lord knows we need more goals and inspiration.
Another player that could be brought to the club as a short-term option is out of contract former defender Jose Enrique and if he was to prove his fitness, he could fight it out with Paul Dummett at left back and give us a level of competition that we haven’t had there for quite some time.
Whoever we get, my trust is with Rafa, but unlike years gone by, we need these players in as a matter of urgency, no waiting until the last days of the window to save a few quid, as doing so could waste three or four games and that’s time we don’t have to waste.
We need to hit the ground running and get off to a flyer, a quick glance at the teams in the Championship and the task in hand looks tricky, for once I would agree with jettisoning the cup competitions early doors, promotion is paramount.