Rafa Benitez has already achieved much in his 15 months or so at St James Park but there is a feeling that he might just have got the keys to the castle…
It would be a bit fanciful to describe it as a ‘Transfer Strategy’, the way Newcastle have acted in the past under Mike Ashley, but it appears that just maybe this has now finally been consigned to the past.
In his transfer dealings last summer, Rafa showed Newcastle fans what they had been missing. Signing the players to do a job, rather than trying to cheat the system and look to scrape by for the moment with players who you hope will improve – both in terms of ability and value.
It was revolutionary to have a mixture of ages including players in the 30s, as well as Atsu on loan, plus other players brought in to do a specific job this season just gone.
Ironically, the £50m worth of players bought in Summer 2016 have probably also increased in value!
The likes of Gayle, Ritchie, Hayden, Yedlin and Clark are probably worth that £50m figure between them, whilst Hanley and others will have more or less kept their value and be sold.
With Christian Atsu already seeing his deal confirmed as permanent, that was the first signing of the Summer confirmed before the end of May.
Things could end up even more revolutionary, with a real feeling that a number of other transfer targets could be confirmed as happening well before the month of June is out.
Easily the most successful season under Mike Ashley’s ownership was 2011/12 and the summer of 2011 saw the likes of Yohan Cabaye and Demba Ba signed very early in the transfer window, having a full pre-season with their teammates.
All too often, including before Ashley took over at Newcastle, the most significant signings would end up being made late in the day, even after the season started. Leading the new players and the team overall to play catch up. Rightly or wrongly, many fans thought this was simply an exercise in ‘saving’ on a couple of months wages!
There is little room for error this Summer and Rafa Benitez appears to have his plan well in hand – all power to his elbow.
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