It is fair to say, the Championship is a marathon and not a sprint.

Newcastle fans were understandably disappointed with both the performances and results of the opening two fixtures. Rafa Benitez though, was at pains to say that the next couple of weeks will see him have a far better idea of his team and squad and he expects major further action in the transfer market.

Five Championship games in the opening three weeks of the season, an international break, then six league matches in three weeks, then international break, five games in three weeks….and so on.

Over the course of the 2009/10 season, Chris Hughton used a total of 33 players, 28 of them starting games and a further five making only substitute appearances.

Rafa Benitez had another major shuffle of his pack against Reading and produced a 4-1 victory, making it a total of 18 Newcastle players used already, 17 starters and Adam Armstrong only from the bench so far.

Matt Ritchie clearly looks the class act in the Newcastle squad, with there looking very little to choose between many of the options for other positions.

Maybe this will prove the real strength of Rafa Benitez’ hand, that when you are regularly playing three matches in a week, you can refresh the team without weakening the first eleven.

That is not to say that there isn’t room for other standout candidates and we have a number of other contenders…

Dwight Gayle with three in three is maybe starting to justify his pre-season favourite billing to be top Championship scorer.

Aleksandar Mitrovic – will the Championship be the making of him, just as it was for Joan, Enrique and Coloccini back in 2009/10.

Chancel Mbemba – single-handedly attempting to hold the Newcastle defence together last season, arriving as a 20 year old in England.

Then of course we have the signings that Rafa Benitez has indicated are still to come, the left-back, winger and striker that could complete the picture.

Newcastle United have the biggest transfer spend, crowds, and wage bill, so why not the biggest squad?

Is it fair? Who cares.

A club with all the advantages Newcastle United enjoy, should never have been relegated.

Yes you can only put 11 players on the pitch the same as everybody else but Newcastle are set to have at least two full teams of players to select from, and with three points now in the bag – they are at last setting off with that marathon finishing line shimmering far in the distance.

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