Rafa Benitez finds out this morning in what order he and his team will face the 46 Championship matches this coming season.
Recent days have seen the outline of a Rafa Benitez transfer plan beginning to form but is it realistic?
Wednesday morning sees the Chronicle claim that their information is that the Newcastle boss is only interested in loan signings as a potential bonus, with the intention being to bring in permanent signings this summer. The report stating that rather than proactively looking for loan deals, Newcastle will only take the odd one if they are approached with a particularly attractive proposition.
Adding this extra information, this is the profile of signings Rafa Benitez is claimed to want, that has been built up by the local media in recent days:
Permanent deals rather than loan signings
Premier League standard players rather than ones to just do a one season job in the Championship
Experienced players rather than young inexperienced/potential
Players who can offer leadership along with experience
When you put all this together, it does beg the question as to how is it possible to recruit these players?
There are 20 clubs that can offer instant Premier League football, those 20 clubs also able to at least match or better any wages Newcastle can offer – with their kitty fuelled by the extra £600+ of extra TV cash that they will share starting this coming season.
I have no doubt that Rafa Benitez will be up there with Sir Bobby and Kevin Keegan in terms of being able to sell the club to potential signings BUT we have to face reality.
If you have a player who is a proven experienced Premier League standard player who can also offer leadership, why would they risk dropping into the Championship when they will have plenty offers elsewhere?
Two things make sense to me.
Firstly, if reality tells you that you won’t be able to attract the players outlined above (proven PL quality etc) then it makes sense that you will do everything to keep the ones that you have already got.
So talk/rumours of Rafa being determined to keep his best players are probably very close to the truth, even though many/most fans would be happy to sell Wijnaldum/Sissoko off to the highest bidder. The problem being of course, what do you then do with the money if there is nobody of the right quality to buy?
Secondly, if it is to be permanent buys rather than loans, I think we have to accept that there will be significant risk factors with any new signing, more risk anyway than would be the case if we were still a Premier League club.
So potentially looking at players that PL clubs may see as too much of a risk. Maybe players who have had injury problems, or possibly ones that have seen their form dip after previously suggesting they had it in them.
Another couple of signings yesterday (Barnsley bought George Moncur from Colchester and Blackburn loaned Stephen Hendrie from West Ham) made it now 20 incoming transfers agreed by Championship clubs so far.
With 45 days until the new season, every passing day without transfer action by Rafa/Newcastle will suggest to me that it is very much a case of relying almost totally with last season’s squad, with a minimum of players added in the most desperate place – another striker desperately needed for starters.
Either way, I think it is obvious that people will trust whatever plan Rafa Benitez has in mind, though thinking it is going to be easy next season would be a big surprise.