I am a diehard fan of Newcastle United for a long time, writing to you from Bangladesh.
In our country, a lot of people watch the Premier League regularly, and most of them are supporters of Man U, Man C, Arsenal and Liverpool.
It is not surprising that supporters want to win, and our viewers (as they don’t have any emotional association with any vicinity of UK) tend to support successful teams.
However, I have been supporting NUFC from the 90s (I was a child then) when Alan Shearer, the legend, was at Newcastle, and the team was doing really well under Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson. Unfortunately, there are hardly any supporters of NUFC existing in Bangladesh these days.
However, I passionately follow Newcastle United’s each and every activity and I can tell you, each and every detail of what the club has been going through.
I decided to contribute an article to your website. I will be very glad if this one is published.
Razeen Abhi Mustafiz
At this moment, Newcastle United are playing some result-oriented football. It may not be very eye-catching compared to the footballing style of Manchester City or Liverpool, yet it is very effective.
NUFC have already seen a perfect October, the fans eagerly waiting for some more good results in the upcoming busy schedule of November and December.
The Rafa Benitez philosophy of taking one game at a time, as well as the rotation policy, has paid off and given better stability in the team. The squad is full of talented and (and surprisingly) fit players, so everyone is keen to perform to guarantee a spot in the match day squad.
The way things are moving, Newcastle could be crowned as the Champions well before the season ends. So, Premier League would be the next destination and challenge for Newcastle United. Now the question is, how good is this squad for the PL, and what would Benitez do should NUFC gets the promotion?
I personally believe that Rafa Benitez was very shrewd in his recruitment this summer. He knew that the first priority for him and NUFC was to get out of this Championship, and for that reason players with Championship experience would be very handy. Look at the players he picked up – Ritchie, Diame, Hayden, Murphy, Gayle, Hanley – all have prior experiences in the Championship, and very influential in his squad at this moment.
Newcastle have obviously not played any competitive football with a Premier League club since they were relegated this year, so Hull City in the EFL Cup would be the first such experience for this new-look Newcastle side when they would face a PL standard team. It will be very interesting to see how Rafa Benitez approaches the game.
I think Rafa Benitez would change at least 50% of this existing squad if/when participation in the Premier League is assured – because it is a reality that succeeding in the second tier in English football does not ascertain the same luck in the Premier League.
Look at Rhodes of Middlesbrough. He was exceptionally good at the Championship level but struggling in the Premier League. Gayle, Newcastle’s best striker at this moment, did not enjoy great success in the Premier League either.
Will Hughes of Derby County could not break through to a Premier League club even after giving consistent performances in the Championship for seasons. So, the conversion from Championship to Premier League is a tough ask, and Rafa Benitez would not take that risk (that’s what I believe).
Fringe players like Haidara would definitely be sold (or loaned out), and most of the loaned out players (e.g. Krul, de Jong and so on) would make their switch permanent.
I don’t think Gouffran would get a contract extension as Rafa Benitez knows what it takes in the Premier League, and Gouffran, at the age of 30, already had some below average seasons in the Premier League. However, I do think Anita would get a short extension because of his versatility.
I would not be very surprised to see the back of new recruitments like Diame, Gamez or Hanley should Newcastle United become a PL team next summer. The current squad, in my opinion, does not have the quality to break through to the top half of the table of the PL, and if no quality recruitments are brought in, NUFC would be in a relegation battle.
Rafa Benitez knows it very well, and, I am certain, he has some very good plans for Newcastle United. Rafa Benitez knows that the football world is watching him with great interest, because he has taken a job that is not only challenging but also a big reputation test for his successful career.
If you ask me how Rafa would do in the future?
My reply to you would be that I can see a statue of Rafa Benitez, as the most successful Manager of Newcastle United since the inception of the PL era, in front of St James Park!