Rafa Benitez has delivered on his promise/prediction of being able to deliver ‘two or three signings in a week’ once the action started at St James Park.
In fact with three signings in 48 hours maybe Rafa even surprised himself at how smoothly things worked out, as Matz Sels, Dwight Gayle and Matt Ritchie all agreed to drop into the second tier of English football.
All three signings were thrown straight into pre-season training at the weekend with time at a premium, the squad setting off for the week-long training camp in County Kildare at the end of this week and now only 32 days until Newcastle travel to Craven Cottage for the first match of the season.
Pictured alongside the new trio was a more familiar figure, Fabricio Coloccini joining in with the first stages of what would be his ninth pre-season at Newcastle United.
Coloccini was in negotiations with his old club San Lorenzo last week and it was widely reported that he had reached agreement to move back to Argentina, only needing to come back and tie things up with Newcastle United.
The Chronicle report on Monday morning that Coloccini will leave – but only once Newcastle sort out an incoming replacement. Newcastle are already two centre-backs down with Williamson and Taylor having moved on, Coloccini also going would have left only Lascelles and Mbemba.
The likes of Dummett and Janmaat could also play there but then Newcastle aren’t overflowing with options at full-back either, Haidara unreliable when it comes to both form and injury, whilst Kevin Mbabu has only played one and a half Premier League matches.
An interesting subject is what Rafa Benitez will do with Vurnon Anita, both in terms of a potential role in the team/squad and indeed whether he will be here at all. Along with Krul, Tiote and Cisse he is now in the final year of his contract with no news of new deals for any of the four.
The Chronicle also report/guesstimate that Benitez wants at least one defender in by the time they head off to Ireland and that would of course be a huge benefit in terms of getting somebody settled in.
Steven Caulker’s name resurfaced once again at the weekend and the Northern Echo claim this morning that Rafa has been back in for Daniel Ayala. Middlesbrough are said to not be interested in selling one of the mainstays of their promotion team and this transfer link has never really made a lot of sense, seemingly driven by the fact that Ayala was signed by Liverpool as a 16 year old kid when Rafa Benitez was still at Anfield.
Whilst Rafa settled on a Lascelles/Mbemba partnership at the end of last season, it will be of major interest whether he does see them as his ideal first choice to build on what looked a promising pairing.
As for the general question of the Newcastle defence, it is just a relief for the fans that a number of years too late we are now moving on from the reliance on Coloccini, Taylor, Williamson.
Having Jamaal Lascelles, Chancel Mbemba and another centre-back of Rafa’s choosing, will give supporters real confidence that a solid defence can be forged in the Championship and potentially be carried beyond that.