Following last term’s emotional rollercoaster promotion season, Tyneside was buzzing once again.

From the Bigg Market to Eldon Square, a pride not seen since the reigns of Kings Keegan and Robson had finally returned, the streets and bars of Newcastle were once again engulfed with black and white euphoria. The dense fog of previous seasons had finally lifted, the messiah sat proudly on the throne, Newcastle was once more united. The deep fog that shrouded the ambition, pride and respect of Tyneside had finally lifted.

Or so we thought.

Having been privy to several in-depth interviews this week concerning the current uncertainty surrounding our beloved Toon, several things are abundantly clear. For all the love and pride that Rafa Benitez has re-instilled into Newcastle United, it is going to take some considerable time for the scepticism and mistrust of a decade of turbulence to truly dissipate. For the fans, it is somewhat exasperating to have that deep-rooted feeling that the black and white rug could well be pulled from under us once again.

Other than a brief fortuitous interlope into the top five by Alan Pardew, we’ve had little to sing about over the past seasons. From Roeder to Allardyce, Kinnear, Pardew, Carver and McClaren we’ve fallen woefully short of the mark season after season.

From once being Fortress St James’, a stadium where no opposition wished to do battle – and that includes the Man Us, Chelseas and Arsenals of the realm- to being the near guaranteed six pointers for teams in the upper echelons of the Premier league, the mighty had truly fallen. Goliath was now certainly nailed on for an easy battle against the meek and timid David and his black and white sling.

Following the sacking of ex England manager Steve McClaren, after a tenure that saw him win just six of twenty eight Premier League games, and a third straight defeat – the 3-1 humbling to Bournemouth at St James’ Park – he was rightfully gone. Although he remained confident we would have stayed in the league, he was alone in that opinion! The club was going backwards at an alarming pace.

Gary Lineker summed it up perfectly: “The running of that great football club is beyond shambolic.”

As the world press watched on we had become a joke – from the pitch, to the boardroom and now the fans: ‘How dare Newcastle fans demand a team that play with pride, courage and conviction. How very dare they!’ Those fickle, fickle fans.

And then everything changed! The stars aligned, our lottery numbers came up and suddenly, gob smackingly, there was Rafael Benitez – Champions league winning manager – standing proudly in our very own cathedral, holding aloft the scarf.

Despite the fact he failed to keep us up, he did something far more important.

Rafael Benitez reunited the Toon.

Fast forward to May 2017. A rollercoaster season came to an end with the most exhilarating finale. We were title winners! And try telling us it was only the Championship – we know that all too well. Victory is victory and we’ll take it. Try telling that to Villa, Norwich and many other teams who have fallen into the abyss and find no way out. We are back in the big league. All is well!

Fast forward again to late June 2017 and the anti-Newcastle press are in overdrive. With no football to focus on it seems like the sights are once again firmly trained on the antics within the walls of St James Park. HMRC raids, Chinese takeover talks, Rafa Benitez about to jump ship, no money for new signings and a bloated squad with no way of thinning out the deadwood.

There’s nothing like a healthy dose of doom and gloom to quash the flames of optimism.

“It’s the hope that kills us.” This saying is no more pertinent than to the fans of Newcastle United.

So, here’s where I’d like to interject a thought. Perhaps Rafa Benitez is a psychological genius! From the elation of promotion and the wild speculation of imminent marquee signings, fans are now singing from the same hymn sheet. We understand that we can’t compete with the established clubs on the transfer front.

As of now, we have completed the signings of Christian Atsu and then Florian Lejeune, who has come in to provide competition in the heart of defence. It’s not great but it’s a start.

Bournemouth, Brighton and Huddersfield are ‘obviously’ far better placed to spend big on new signings and that’s okay with us. Will those signings set their world on fire? Only time will tell. Everton have had several years of stability in the league and are now spending big. But hang on a minute, Lukaku has just signed for Manchester United for £75 million with Rooney going the other way. So now it makes sense of the millions they’ve spent on incomings over the past few weeks. £80 million or so worth of players in and £75 million worth of Lukaku out. A net spend of just over £6 million. Huh, balanced books.

Benitez understands the transfer market better than most. He forewarned us that this was not to be an easy transfer market. It was mentioned this week that had we just now signed Matt Richie, Mo Diame, Dwight Gayle, Ciaran Clark (Daryl Murphy and Grant Hanley even) fans would accept it as good business to create a team capable of staying in the Premier league. The fact that these signings were made last season could in fact be seen as a masterstroke to negate the ridiculous over inflation of prices in this year’s crazy market. Just imagine how much we would have had to shell out to buy them in the current climate!

There is now maximum pressure on Mike Ashley to provide the funds for Benitez to add more talent to the squad before kick-off. And the departure of Graham Carr can only be seen as a positive as Rafa secures yet more keys to the palace.

Business will be done later in the window – of that I’m sure. Early window prices are ridiculous and clubs of wealth and desperation take their chances early. Like lions at the watering hole the Manchester Uniteds, Evertons and Arsenals of this world stalk, pounce and make their kills early while Newcastle United conserve their energy and wait to pick off the unsuspecting wildebeest, once the alpha males of the pride have eaten their fill. We will not be drawn into unwinnable battles as Benitez understands our status and the need to build meticulously and steadily from this season to the next.

Benitez and his coaching team are currently running the rule over the entire squad of players at Newcastle’s disposal prior to announcing his squad for the forthcoming season. Imagine if Adam Armstrong, Siem De Jong, Henri Saivet and Chancel Mbemba made the first team grade! What if young Adam Armstrong burst onto the scene as our 15 goal a season striker to push Dwight Gayle all the way. What if Emmanuel Riviere suddenly found the barn door? There are, after all, several possibilities beyond the frantic buy-or-bust relegation terror scenario.

Rafa Benitez has – over the course of just over one football year – restored the passion, optimism and love for Newcastle United. We are on the up, whilst keeping our feet firmly on the ground.

Mike Ashley has never been more willing to trust and back a manager. The fans have never been more willing to show their love and the 2017/2018 season promises to be one hell of a ride.

Fans, including myself, just need to chill out a little, lie back and wait for it all to come together – united.

Mike Ashley can even take his place in the stands and enjoy a passionate, belt and braces, battle of a game in the majestic St James’ cathedral without fear of reprisal. Well, maybe that’s still a bit of a stretch. But in Benitez we trust.

Viva la Rafulation.

Dom also has his own website which you can visit here – www.natureslarder.tv

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



  • anyobrien

    Very good article, much better than the doom and gloom of late….. Ktf

    • Dom Morgan

      Thanks. In Rafa we trust.

  • Gallowgate1982

    Bit of common sense there for a change….it will take us years to reach our potential and panic buying will not get us there..if a target moves elsewhere then his heart couldn’t have been in it..Rafa said last season that it is important that the players who come here understand the fans and the city and what it means to wear the shirt. If a player chooses Swansea over us for a few extra grand then good riddance. It wouldn’t be long until they are huffing and causing the team morale to sink ala Sissoko. Huddersfield have signed players who have no premier league pedigree or top league pedigree and they will be stuck with those contracts if they go down. I prefer a sustainable and measured approach to recruitment as its the only way we will bridge the gap to the top clubs!!!

  • Philip Whitehead

    we are shopping in the bargain basement 4 to 8 million range and then arguing over whether we can pay in installments.We will end up with Dummett and Gouffran playing in the first 11 and another season of survival being our number 1 priority

  • Damon Horner

    It’s a lot about the attention to detail when it comes to signings so fingers crossed the research has been good. Remember though, Premier League established two years ago would have got you Colback and “The Graham Carr Method” would have seen you furious with N’Golo Kante.

    Trust in Rafa and wait for the season to kick in, that’s where we truly measure our capability.

  • Carlo Ancelotti

    The penny still hasn`t dropped with a lot of fan`s
    The club is going nowhere under Mike Ashley

    • Kneebotherm8

      The optimism of some is unbelievable given Ashley’s past record. Even when we finished fifth there was no great urgency from him to push on( he bought Vurnon Anita). I’d love us to have an owner with a modicum of ambition for the club,but he definitely isn’t that person.

  • Soldier

    not a bad article, but what we have is an owner who pulled the plug on Rafa in January & i can see no reason to say that he will back him this summer.
    you can trust in Rafa all you want but the power lies down in Shirebrook

  • Geordie-7676

    Honestly, if you hadn’t written this i think i would of in the next few days. I agree with every word.

    I see it here on a daily basis….people just refuse to accept our current circumstances, and demand immediate change, immediate dismissals, immediate change of ownership, immediate major signings…..they are like impatient, petulant children.

    We understand that Ashley has made mistakes, we understand that Charnley is completely the wrong person to do the job hes doing. I, and a lot of us get your concerns, but for the love of everything black and white, try to look at the positive culture the club is slowly but surely trying to establish. Try to look at the good things the club are ACTUALLY doing, as opposed to what you think certain people MIGHT do in the future.

    It is about time people started placing their energies in supporting the club again, instead of wasting it on hating the ownership.

    To quote my Maltese friends, Prosit mr writer.

    • MichaelMaximusMoose

      our current circumstances are as follows the Fat F@@ka is up to his normal tricks
      End of story

      • Geordie-7676

        Thank you for the perfect response.

        • MichaelMaximusMoose

          you are welcome

    • Andy Mac

      Yup 7676 you’re right to a certain extent. However if I was running this club I would have asked Rafa and his merry men to identify the players needed to come in, as a priority, and those we needed to shift in order to make way for newcomers. Then sell them asap and bring in replacements

      Yet somehow or other I get the feeling we’re logging on to a football version of ebay and ticking them off as they go elsewhere cos they dont represent “good value” in a market uplifted by the latest PL cash bonanza which we werent a part of.

      • Geordie-7676

        Do you really believe that the targets weren’t identified? Of course they were. Rafa is an absolute perfectionist, and is meticulous in every aspect of every detail. Look at any player or coach that has worked with him, look at what they all say. Gerrard called him a football fanatic, a man who holds files and stats on players we haven’t heard Of, and most likely never will.

        Everything that people are saying should of happened, undoubtedly did. Sigurdsson was today valued at £50million. Put that into perspective. Swansea are saying that Gylfi Sigurdsson is worth more than 4 Matt Ritchies. It’s ludicrous.

        Unfortunately, we are competing in this transfer market with clubs that are, for the first season, reaping the rewards of the bumper Sky deal. It’s not a case of not bidding, not having targets, it’s just extremely difficult to get them when we are competing with clubs that have more cash than us to offer as signing on and agents fees.

        Rafa will still have targets, and we will make the signings we need, but it is, now, as the article suggests, time to let rafa play the psychological game and start making the selling clubs wait!

    • Porciestreet

      How can you honetly talk of posativity when Ashley still breathes………………………ASHLEY OUT….!

      • Geordie-7676

        When are people like you going to realise….saying you want him out, typing it in capital letters is NOT going to change anything.

        The demonstrations, walkouts, webpages, banners…..they have all failed to make him leave. He will leave when he decides to, and only then.

        I want him to leave. I wanted him leave 7 years ago, and my stance has never changed. But i refuse to spend my time doing nothing other than moaning and wining about a situation i have no control over, when there is, whether you like the owner or not, still a football club, players and manager to support!

        Good things are happening. They may not be as good as we would all like, but they are positive none the less!

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    just received an email to renew my club membership for £35, my season ticket went down the toilet 4 yrs ago so i`ll hang fire on to the 35 quid for the membership until i see what develops on the transfer front.
    Viva La Rafalution

  • Leazes Ender

    Viva la Rafalution next year maybe….. or the year after.

    That has messed up Mark Douglas’s book launch then!

  • Carlo Ancelotti

    we are now favourites to sign Fabian Delph but it seems the £12m fee is the sticking point, where have i heard that before

    • Andy Mac

      Favourites to sign a player we dont really need ? Focus has to be on No 10, ST and LW

      • Franzcarrsuperstar

        We do need central midfielders as much as any other position, it’s our poorest area in my view.

  • goggsy

    I’ve known Sunderland fans from being a young kid to present day,mid 30s,they have no idea what success or ambition is because they’ve never seen it in their lifetime. Newcastle are grooming and intentionally breeding this culture and type of suppotter,theyre ideal.What’s even more bizzare,they aspire to mediocrity and call themselves positive.

  • Lord

    New signings are one thing but we really need to get some chaff off the books – by loan if that’s the only way – and that doesn’t seem to be happening apart from Sels.

    How much are we paying Riviere + Saivet + De Jong per week plus all the rest of the usual suspects? They were loaned out early last year which surely gave Rafa more flexibility for transfers come July 2016.

    MMM says, rightly, that we have a fatberg of players, we desperately need a big tub of Fairy Liquid. It’s going to take years to get our sludge properly out of the sink. It was only 4 years ago when Xisco finally left.

    • Andy Mac

      I agree. If you cant sign players until others are sold then get them off the books asap. Encourage buyers with a BOGOFF if necessary as we’ve got quite a few of them to shift.

    • Down Under Mag

      I do think our squad size is really not helping get new players in. We can’t afford to have players who can’t play still being paid. Fatty won’t like that and i’m sure once we see some players going out on loan we can get some new faces in.

    • Porciestreet

      That reminds me What happened to Boomsong…..?

  • TC Toon Army

    We didn’t spend in January and finished top. last season a few old faces came off the bench and did a good job. We saved some money by not getting in short term fixes. We currently need a few in and a few out. Signings made under Rafa have been good. Mostly. Worry in a months time.

    • Andy Mac

      “We didn’t spend in January and finished top. last season” By the skin of our teeth as Brighton imploded. Please dont tell me that Fatman knew that would happen ?

      • TC Toon Army

        By not waisting it. Player prices are never going to go down are they. Has your council tax gone down recently?! And you never get a good deal in January. We finished top. End of.

    • Alex

      How can we have saved money, when prices have risen from January?

  • Desree

    If Raffa was not happy in January, then why is he happy now? Hope is not a strategy and I am sure the lack of signings is not Raffas plan. Our strikers will get 20 goals between them. Matt ritchie and Shelvey maybe another 5 between them. Shelvey, Mitro and York will all likely miss chunks of the season via injury or suspension. We are looking at less than a goal per game out of the current squad.

    Do we have a defence that will keep clean sheets in the EPL. Too many people think that being positive means hope. Being positive is taking the necesary action to make sure we have a squad fit for purpose. At least Brighton are having a go.

  • Desree

    Is this Rafas strategy or Piemans?  What if young Adam Armstrong burst onto the scene as our 15 goal a season striker to push Dwight Gayle all the way. What if Emmanuel Riviere suddenly found the barn door?

  • Down Under Mag

    A lot of fans seemed to be under the impression that as soon as we gained promotion, a host of players would be knocking at our door to join up to the Rafalution…we aren’t the draw-card we once were, plain and simple.

    We don’t need to be aiming at massive names, firstly because we won’t get them but secondly would they graft for the cause or just give up knowing they will get a move away?? Another window last last one where we can add some more players like Gayle, Ritchie etc would be great and who knows, perhaps some of the misfits like de Jong and Riviere in the squad will come good under a manager who knows how to get the best out of them rather than expect them to fill roles that they are ill-equipped to handle! Maybe if Haidara and Aarons can stay fit we will have two more players capable of making a difference.

    Still so early and still so much could happen. Yes, the more time that goes by the more frustrating it becomes, let’s hope that we just wait for the madness to calm down and then get what we need.

    • goggsy

      Maybe we would have expected Abraham to sign,is that unrealistic? It’s not exactly expecting Messi to sign up,is it,as you and others seem to be spinning it. As far as we are all aware,Abraham didn’t come because of a gauretee of match time,cabbalero had a better offer,fair enough! That’s what actually happend as far as we know,the problem I’ve got is that as an afterthought the happy clappers are saying we aren’t signing players because our squad is too big. A keeper has been cleary identified as a priority,to me and any club with a keeper to sell ,that says Rafa doesn’t fancy our keepers,surely the price of a keeper for Newcastle is going to increase the longer we don’t sign one. Going into our 1st games with neither keeper feeling wanted is not an ideal scenario in my opinion.Next week I think it was when you mentioned it was OK to panic,let’s hope your not panicking. You do normally talk sense though,maybe I’ve just decided to panic before you.

      • Down Under Mag

        Oh, the time is coming to preapre the red button…finger is starting to twitch. I’m just not there yet…but it is coming. We seem to be going down a very familiar path with the way things are starting to pan out…this was Ashley’s chance to get the club back on a solid foundation by just letting Rafa do what he wanted but as you say, I can’t figure out why the likes of Reina haven’t appeared if that is what the manager wants. I’m never too bothered by what the press say as the Reina interest may never have even come from rafa…Agents seem to have a habit of using us as a way to get a new deal or improved terms for their clients…this could have been just that. Has Rafa actually said publicly that he wanted Reina? Abraham would have been good but if Gayle was first choice then game time may have been a problem so I get that one. I just don’t see why we haven’t done the deal for some top Championship players yet…those are the players we should be looking at, they may cost a little more BUT the hunger will be there. Let’s hope something more develops in the next few days I guess…otherwise yes, my finger may be dangling precariously over that red panic button :)

  • TheFatController

    shelvey, Gayle, Ritchie, Clark, Elliott, Yedlin, lascelles, Perez, Hayden, Darlow, atsu, even Aarons, Colback given they cost nothing. have all, pound for pound, been good signings.

    We just now need Rafa to spend wisely, as you say build things patiently and wait for reasonable prices for targets.

    Best would be to either get shot of deadwood of find a resurrection in a previously lifeless player.

    We are where we are, but Carr and MacLaren have gone so I will feel positive about the PL given its Rafa, his coaching team, a squad of players who like the club and each other and thus battle. Any signings will make us more competitive, given Rafa currently has every squad player in training to look at and know strengths/weaknesses

  • Geordiegiants

    Jabba really has dampened some people’s expectations. If this was the case I still think we would stay up, but it would be a very long and hard slog of a season.

  • Porciestreet

    My dear Dom, You write a pretty good piece except for one small detail…………your totally misguided trust in the person who has and continues to cause so much missaprehension in a once proud and fearless club. Mike Ashley is POISON and will inevitably wreak more havok upon our city. The man is not just a cancer, he is a plague that is proving so dificult to conquer.
    I don’t care if it’s a Chinese conglomerate or a Chinese takaway that buys Newcastle United, I just want that theiving b45t4rd gone.

    • Dom Morgan

      :) love the way my article divides opinion.

  • goggsy

    Odd that as a selling club we’ve successfully extracted the urine out of clubs on deadline day, that a proportion of supporters believe that the exact opposite will happen to us. Yes the longer you leave it,the more chance the selling club will just say “here you go,your desperate,have him for nowt”,yeah bound to happen. Congratulations alan pardew you’ve educated our supporters