This summer has been billed a big summer, a HUGE summer, for Newcastle United with so many things in the balance.
Mind I can’t remember a summer that wasn’t a big one for some reason or another since I start supporting NUFC.
Recent years have seen doubts in whether we’d bring in any players at all, never mind speculation on just how much would be spent. There were doubts about the abilities of those in charge of the playing staff, as well as those who were tasked in identifying who we should bring in.
What isn’t in doubt is the ability of Rafa Benitez as a manager, his passion for the Club and his determination to succeed in this job.
How quickly things can change, compare now to this time last year: the mackems having a laugh at our expense, in the space of a year the two Clubs seem light years apart. They have an owner that clearly doesn’t want to be there, a manager that appears to have lost all motivation to be there and a fed up fanbase that can’t be bothered to turn up for home games.
With Newcastle United at the minute we have a completely different prospect, for one we have some (ED: prospects!). We have a world class manager who on the face of it has reinvigorated the Club’s owner, or at least made him see sense. Everything is geared towards NUFC punching its weight amongst the big boys.
I’m not saying all is perfect in NE1, it is still in people’s minds that our owner might balls up everything good going for the Club up and this is totally understandable, as the last 10 years has proven our owner is capable of anything.
Newcastle United used to be in the top two in the country in terms of attendances, but we’ve slipped down that list and will continue to do so as more clubs move to larger grounds or increase their current stadium’s capacity – 60k seems to be the norm nowadays and if things carry on at their current trajectory I believe we could as a fanbase top that.
Having 52k attendances in the Championship is phenomenal but I would love to see St James Park expand to its full potential as the Club does the same. As the biggest Club in the North East we could pull people in from across the region.
The atmosphere at the final home game was something else! The dramatic way we won the title just made it extra special and it’ll stick long in the memory – Just imagine what it would be like if we actually won one of the big ones!
A lot is being made of how much in terms of a transfer budget Rafa has/will get. I don’t read too much into figures: how much is needed, how much we have left over from previous windows etc.
I mean, for every £15m Alan Shearer signing there’s a £700k Rob Lee out there.
Proven quality and potential come at a premium and we’ll probably break our transfer record at least once this summer but that will only happen if Rafa reckons it’s warranted, as we well know, spending a fortune doesn’t guarantee you anything.
There are bargains to be had out there and Rafa Benitez likes to develop players. Look at Hayden; we’ve had Arsenal’s pants down there, £2m for an absolute Rolls Royce of a player. Compare that with £12ms we spent on Cabella, Thauvin – absolute mercenaries who thought they’d made it already.
There certainly won’t be an open cheque book or unlimited PayPal account, though all the noises coming from the Club indicate that Rafa will armed with budget sufficient enough to build on the team as he sees fit otherwise he wouldn’t have stayed.
With Rafa you get the feeling we won’t be entering any unknown transfer markets; he’ll have his own network which should help mitigate against signing players that aren’t up to scratch. Where this leaves the much maligned Graham Carr is another article in itself.
Look at last summer, we signed 12 players and I can think of only 2/3 from that group that haven’t made a significant positive impact on the pitch this season, that’s a decent success ratio, it’s impossible to get it 100% right. I think if you look at the success rate in terms of transfers of any manager in the world you will find a flock of black sheep.
There’s also the task of offloading those deemed surplus to requirements, we have players on our books that were probably signed to get us out of the Championship, we also have players out on loan that haven’t made any significant impression whilst away – decisions will need to be made.
We will see, it might be that Rafa signs 7 players at plus £20m each, he might loan 3 or 4, who knows? I’m just excited at the prospect of who is coming in to wear the black & white shirt next season, I’m even keen to see who he brings in as assistant manager, bliddy hell I’m just excited again!
So aye, another big summer ahead from the outside looking in but Rafa has been working on all this since the first day he took the job. He sees big things ahead for the Club and from a personal point of view it’s great to think I’ll be in the stands to watch the fruits of his labour.
In Rafa We Trust.
Howay me bonny lads!!!
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