A Newcastle United supporter’s life is never boring, never predictable…with so many twists and turns that would throw a shade on the most melodramatic Mexican soap opera.

After winning the Championship on an entertaining final day, to the HMRC raids, followed by the Chinese takeover talks. Then if that was not enough, there then came the rumours of Rafa Benitez wanting to walk away even before pre-season started.

This club is crazy but addictive. I don’t know whether I should be happy or sad for friends who support the likes of Brighton and Bournemouth, who don’t have to deal with our level of drama…

On a more serious note, Rafa’s reported discontent with the lack of transfer progress seems a little alarming given reported deals have either dragged or fallen through with players that were seemingly locked in, instead opting for other clubs. Bringing into question whether Charnley has been stalling over valuation, payment of fees, or sell on clauses. Charnley for me is still learning his trade.

He could help himself by taking a page out of the NBA contract negotiating handbook. For example, clubs protect themselves in the event of signing a player with an injury record, or may not be able to adjust/prove himself in a league outside his home country.

One way of negotiating the Riviere contract would have been to structure his six year contract under which the first two years would have been guaranteed but the third to sixth year would have seen the club have the power to terminate the player contract if he turned out to be a failure – but the club would still sweeten the deal by paying some severance, probably amounting to 6 months wages and 10% of that as commission to his agent, as to make it a good sell given the highly influential roles agents play nowadays.

Anyways, I hope Lee Charnley wises up, learns to trust his Manager’s judgement when he is stuck at the crossroads negotiating with a club over a player that Rafa badly wants, not to stubbornly stick to his original valuations. To go out and get that player, like Newcastle did with Matt Ritchie 12 months ago.

It appears likely this season is not going to be a big splurge; Rafa will have to revise his strategy due to a combination of a very inflated market, coming off the back of a season spent in the Championship.

So that brings me to the speculation of how many and which players would Rafa would be targeting in this summer.

Ideally on the back of the meeting with Ashley, It was safe to assume that he would have hoped for 7-8 new players but financials have played a big part. My guess is that he will look to cover high priority requirements like centre-back, deep lying playmaker and forward with quality buys. Which means then acquiring a new left-back and winger will depend on whether he is successful at moving some deadwood and generating extra cash.

Centre-back – At the time of writing Florian Lejune has just been unveiled as a Newcastle player and got straight into training. Rafa making this an important buy after last season, when it became apparent that after Clark, there wasn’t anyone that would be able to step up to the demands of PL football.

You look at clips of Lejune and even Mangala, one trait was obvious and that is they look to close down on approaching forwards and tackle straight on rather than turn sideways and backtrack like Lascelles and Hanley. As you see Lejune’s games, while defending crosses from wings, he is quick to gauge his positioning and reach for his marker, a situation where we often saw Lascelles being stranded in no-man’s land. Lascelles will grow and get better, the tools are there, he needs to be more assertive and put in work on the training ground but in the Premier League, you just need someone who has a more ready game to be first choice pairing with Clark.

Deep lying playmaker – I would like to see a playmaker who can operate from deep, linking directly with his defence, offering them an easy outlet pass, someone who is calm on the ball and is able to initiate the passing game, finding spaces despite high pressure on the ball from rival teams. An ideal player type would be a prime Micheal Carrick, Cabaye, or even Roque Mesa who Swansea signed from Las Palmas. Samaris from Benfica who we are constantly linked with seems a decent option.

One of the reasons for me pitching a deep lying playmaker is that it allows Rafa to push Shelvey into a forward attacking midfielder role. Shelvey played a couple of blinders when Rafa went 4-1-4-1 vs Brighton at home and QPR away but the manager generally preferred to play Shelvey deeper. Which is not necessarily a bad thing as he has fantastic vision with ability to link play and spray passes – but his temperament and discipline under constant pressure has me feeling he would be more of an asset operating higher up the pitch, rather than deeper. It would also solve our number 10 issue given the inconsistent plays of Diame and Perez.

Forward – Despite Gayle’s prolific form, Mitro’s lack of finishing/pace will have Rafa look to bringing in another striker. Someone like Gayle who will run the channels, has power, speed and discipline. As of now, the most likely candidate seems to be Andre Gray who did well, despite playing in a pragmatic set up by Dyche.

If finances permit, I can see Rafa moving on to these two positions as well:

Left-back – Dummett has done a good job defensively but his lack of pace and offensive limitations severely impacts on Newcastle’s play down the left. Midfielders and wingers tend to redirect play from left to the middle.

Rival teams were already aware of that in our relegation season where they deliberately allowed Dummett to have the ball but quickly closed down Gini whenever he looked to pass it to him. I would love to have Jetro Willens from PSV. He is tall, physical and attack-minded, who would improve the side’s play significantly.

Winger – After signing Atsu, we do have back up options in Aarons and to some extent Lazaar – but if Rafa could get some more class, than Montpellier’s Ryad Boudebouz is someone I would love to see in black and white. Blessed with great skills, he was their highest assist getter last season and scored important goals. At 15 million euros he would be worth the investment.

It will be an interesting window and more importantly, it will require Lee Charnley to be able to clear out the dead wood and fill those positions with the players Rafa has identified.

Hopefully, Rafa gets the players he needs in time to get them playing to his philosophy, to enable a good start in the opening six games, to set the Club and City alight for a great season.

(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])



  • Albert Stubbins

    two realistic signings for me would be the little mexican- Hernandez- has a pedigree in prem and good scoring record- apparent release clause at about 12 million? he links well and has an eye for goal. Also- Giroud? maybe a bit beyond our scope but why not- great target man and possibly now available with Lacazette coming in.

    • Burt Humperdink

      Giroud is off to Everton. Hernandez maybe West Ham.

      • Albert Stubbins

        Newcastle should step in for the Hernandez deal- he’s dirt cheap for a proven goal scorer at this level- a step up from Gayle in my humble opinion.

        • TheNutJob

          my thoughts as well

        • Burt Humperdink

          Not sure Hernandez would see Newcastle as the better option. Most foreign players want to be in London and we are the team coming out of relegation.

          • Albert Stubbins

            Money talks simple as that. Pay him the money and he’ll come.

            Sent from my Samsung devicedevice.

            ——– Original message ——–

    • Wor Lass

      Signing Giroud would reduce our goals against total in one fell swoop!

  • glassjawsh-got-banned

    Hard to accurately judge Lascelles when you figure that we was playing with an injury for 5 months. I honestly think a CB rotation of Lascelles, Mbemba, Lejune and Clark looks fairly decent for our first year back up.

    • Wor Lass

      I don`t think Rafa has any great faith in Mbemba as a CB – he does seem to like big, tall guys in that position. He also didn`t look at him as a DM option last season when we really needed it. Sadly, I reckon he`ll flog him.

  • Peter Stabler

    In Rafa’s formation it is the glaring lack of a no 10 for me, we did well to score as many as we did last season given the humdrum performances behind Gayle.

    • Paul Patterson

      I agree with the authors premise of Shelvey further forward. He should be getting more goals and is five times the player of Diame/Perez/Colback etc.

      • Peter Stabler

        Not for me, Shelvey has a range of passing that says he should play deeper next to Hayden or better with a player like Tadic in front of them. Shelvey will be better again physically this season like he was last year – the penny has dropped, well done Rafa.He will be able to get up and down, hopefully.

    • 1957

      Have to agree it was amazing how well Gayle did considering the lack of support he had, the 10 spot is a priority, unless Benitez has an unlikely conversion to a two striker formation.

      I have a sinking feeling though that we will start the season with SloMo in that position…

  • Lhc

    Ryan boudebouz bags of skill maybe but didn’t cabella have the same imo yes, but he didn’t make the grade (stay away from Montpellier and the French market)

    • mentalman

      think i’d rather go for khazri

      • Lhc

        Roberts from Man City and I’d take a chance on Leigh griffiths as a bit part player for 6/7 mil and as main striker maybe chris wood I think he would handle the prem now 15/18 goals with decent service or giroud, but would be to much for Ashley

  • Lhc

    And if Andre gray is the best we can hope for upfront as our marquee striker signing, it’s the same old nufc and lets take the cheap option!! Daniel Sturbridge oxlade chamberlain Theo Walcott etc now they have our season ticket money its back to type! Players in final year of contracts etc who will command a low fee in the current market of today.

    • Geordiegiants

      What ever happened to Danny ings?

  • Thefootballerwhocouldfly

    Be seriously underwhelmed this season! Rafa has to get players off the books to sign others

  • HappyToons

    ‘Dummett has done a good job defensively but his lack of pace’…ad nauseam.

    I am beginning to believe it having read it a 1000 times, but no officially he is one of the quickest defenders around, so why repeat the above? People need to observe for themselves that Dummett is quick, solid, and good in the air …hence a 5 year contract!!!

    ‘2015/16 somewhat surprising name for some people comes in at joint fourth with Origi in the form of Newcastle’s Paul Dummett.
    The Welsh full-back also clocked a top speed of 21.8mph, ‘

    The fastest in the premiership was Vardy at 22mph

    • 1957

      This piece of flawed football ‘research’ comes up all the time, when discussing Dummett and his pace or lack of it. It’s based on his fastest sprint (I think it had to be over 10m long) in the season, but being a quick defender isn’t all about running in a straight line, its about positional know-how, being able to turn and make up ground over the first 2 or 3 metres. Dummett doesn’t have this for me.

      It’s all very well being able to reach his top speed in 10 metres but by then your opponent will be gone.

      He’s a dependable squad player, nothing more, but we need a better option at LB to progress in the PL.

      • mentalman

        Dummett has suffered for at least two seasons of not having a player in front of him who will defend, whereas the right back has had this cover and still most of our goals conceded come from the right.

      • Geordiegiants

        Dummett will be our number one left back, I have no doubts.

    • Wor Lass

      He is quick but I think he`s susceptible to the ball over the top – it`s being wrong-footed and having to turn that loses him time. He`s also far too minded to pass back and give responsibility to someone else in the attack. Having said that, I`ve always liked him. He tries to defend first and foremost, he leads by example when we`re up against it, he`s good in the air, he tackles strongly, he crosses the ball well when he does get up top and he`s improving.

  • Leazes Ender

    Mike Ashley discouraged staff from wheeling him out to charm people. He said they usually found it a letdown. They would say “Jesus, is that it? We thought we would be meeting a bright bloke!”

  • Cuh736

    Aarons could play CAM. De Jong too, although not as energetic. If both fail, perez on a good attacking day, can fill in. CAM is the least of my worries in terms of positions to be strengthened

    • Clarko

      “Aarons could play CAM”, based on what exactly? Or are you just picking random players to play random positions?

      “Perez on a good attacking day, can fill in”, do you not see Perez as our first choice CAM? If not who, Diame? What about on a “bad attacking day”, what do Newcastle do then?

      I believe a centre attacking midfielder is the most in need of strengthening. What position do you think needs more attention?

      • mentalman

        we’ll get another winger in and move ritchie to no10

        • Clarko

          Matt Ritchie has never played that role.

    • Geordiegiants

      Didn’t think I would ever say this, but I’m with Cocko on this one.

  • Kneebotherm8

    Ashley was misquoted on the big Chinese takeover, the fat twt was actually talking about a big Chinese takeaway.

  • Wor Lass

    Don`t worry guys, Das Boot has resurfaced!

    • 1957

      Ah the elusive Bas…another long standing Chronicle target.

      Prolific scorer this season but another player whose record looks good because he has generally plied his trade in average leagues. His record in his time in the Bundesliga at Wolfsburg on paper looks ok in his 4 full seasons he scored 36 in 84 games, but he only got to double figures in one of those seasons.

  • Rich Lawson

    ”Charnley is still learning his trade” ? Surely there is a no fixed hours apprentise position available at Sports Direct to correct this ?