Everybody, especially Rafa Benitez, hoped that the Newcastle signings would have all been sort ahead of the season and then it just being a case of how quickly they would integrate into, and hopefully improve, the starting eleven.

It hasn’t quite worked out that way…

The manager brought in Joselu earlier today and reportedly is expecting/hoping to get four more in before the window closes at the end of the month.

Life is never simple under Mike Ashley but leaving that aside, how are we supposed to rate the new signings, can they do the necessary?

Whilst social media is, as ever, full of extremes, I think most supporters will take more of a middle of the road route.

Rather than already writing players off before they have hardly played a game, or claiming Rafa has discovered a handful of hidden gems, fans will see more of a reality.

That reality is that when you are shopping on the lower shelves (below £10m) of Premier League trading, there is far more chance of players ending up being duds.

It isn’t an exact science but generally you pay for what you get.

The real star signings last summer proved to be Ritchie and Gayle, costing a combined £22m, when it came to those costing £5m or less we had a very mixed bunch – hits such as Clark (who had a buyout clause), Hayden, Murphy (at the price/as a short-term option) and Yedlin, as well those who failed to impress like Sels, Lazaar, Hanley, Gamez and Diame.

Bargains can still be found but with every single club looking for exactly these players, it is dreamland to think Newcastle (Ashley) can totally cheat the system.

With surprisingly Rafa Benitez not going down the route of buying a number of players in the twilight of their career (by choice or prevented in doing so), it is a case of on a tight budget the United boss trying to buy players who will end up doing something they haven’t done before…as opposed to repeating what they have done previously in club football.

A prime example is Joselu, for a reported £5m Newcastle have bought a 27 year old striker who has never scored double figures in a (top level – not second tier) league season. With four for Stoke in 2015/16 and five for Deportivo last season, can he leave those kind of goals totals well behind?

I hope so BUT I wouldn’t bet on it.

Like the rest of you I will get behind Joselu (and the rest of the new/existing players) but I won’t be expecting him to be great, if he can play a part great but when the likes of Championship side Middlesbrough are paying £15m for a striker, you would have to be a bit mad to assume Newcastle have signed a better forward for a third of the price.

Likewise, Florian Lejeune has one season of football in the top tier of any country behind him, having at the age of 26 played almost all of his previous career in the second divisions of French and Spanish football. The truth is that because there is only one season to really form an impression on, Newcastle/Rafa could afford him, if he had played and impressed in La Liga then he would be out of Newcastle’s/Ashley’s price bracket.

I read people talking assuredly of Mikel Merino stepping in for Jonjo Shelvey, some seemingly even pleased that Shelvey ruled himself out. If Merino does start at Huddersfield then it will be only his third ever starting eleven for a club playing in a first/top division, after two league starts in the Bundesliga.

Jacob Murphy has never played in a first division, whilst Manquillo is actually the most experienced of the signings in terms of playing in the top divisions of any of the top five European leagues but those games were almost exclusively on loan at three different clubs whilst on the books of Atletico Madrid.

Likewise Christian Atsu has led a nomadic existence, the winger at the age of 25 starting only his fifth game on Sunday (v Tottenham) for a club playing in one of the big five leagues.

They are all players still to prove themselves and hopefully the fact that none of the six signings so far have any significant CV will see them busting a gut to prove themselves for Newcastle.

However, both Rafa Benitez and his players need to be given time to get sorted, even if the early stages of the season prove a struggle. The bottom line is that the Newcastle manager hasn’t been allowed/backed to bring in a certain level of signing and so has had to take risks all over the place.

Obviously Rafa has to take a degree of responsibility for his signings but that can only be viewed within the wider picture, which is being asked to assemble a squad on a threadbare budget compared to pretty much every other club, as even both Huddersfield and Brighton have a net spend of around twice as much as Newcastle’s at this moment in time.

Rafa Benitez is facing potentially his greatest ever challenge in trying to keep Newcastle in the Premier League, never mind rebuilding the club/team.

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



  • Steve Pearce

    Oh shut your crying moaning mouth and gaan and buy a Sunderland season ticket!

  • Steve Pearce

    By the way -look at Jos’s eyes!

    I wouldn’t want them staring at me if I was a goalkeeper as it would be like staring down the barrel of a shotgun loaded with 50 cal machine gun ammo!

  • Guest 2

    To be fair, Joselu had 4 for Stoke in only 10 starts – and 5 for Deportivo in 9. Who’ll complain if he can get the same ratio here ( if he ever gets to start).

    • Leazes Ender

      What 9 starts? There’s a reason why each club has passed him on…. I highly suspect he’s injury prone.

    • Damon Horner

      Is he injury prone or just unfavoured?

    • Wor Lass

      A goal every 9 minutes at Real!

  • Damon Horner

    A lot to prove from our signings but their history doesn’t always mean they’ll fail, particularly Lejeune when there are plenty of players who had a similar career to him (Dunk, Koscielny?).

  • 1957

    I doubt Merino will get a start at Huddersfield…my money sadly will be on SloMo.

    • Mal

      He might start with them both as I have my doubts whether he’ll start with 2 wingers. Actually I don’t know why I’m writing this as Rafa’s team selections are almost impossible to predict.

    • Geordiegiants

      I think you are correct, but I really hope not.

      • Mark Potter

        Diame for Perez in a bit deeper role, Merino for Shelvey. He will want to stifle Huddersfield. Rafa knows better than any other manager we ever had how to win away from home.

        • mentalman

          Huddersfield’s game plan is to stifle to so it may be a boring match

    • Wor Lass

      Huddersfield away was SloMo`s finest hour (and a half) last season. He and Ritchie did a magnificent job of breaking up their attacking play in front of our back four.

      • Jezza

        SloMo usually does a pretty good job of breaking up Newcastle’s attacking play.

        • Wor Lass

          Ha ha – yeah. He`s a strange case – he does seem to worry the opposition when he has the ball but he rarely delivers anything in the end. He works hard, though, and follows the plan – I reckon he`ll start on Sunday (for Perez).

        • Rich Lawson

          Funny !

  • Mal

    Most signings have an element of risk, especially in the price range Rafa has apparently to deal in. Even paying out big fees doesn’t guarantee success. I wonder what the reaction of some on this website would have been if we had signed Assombolonga for £15 million. There’s no guarantee that he would score more goals in the PL than Joselu at a third of the price. He’ll probably score a fair few in the Championship but that’s a different story.

    • Geordiegiants

      Torres, Schevchenko, Crespo all spring to mind, BUT in general with the odd exception, you get what you pay for in football.

      • Damon Horner

        Jo, Soldado, Adebayor… To be fair at the prices they signed for the list of failures is bigger than it should be.

  • Stephen Paylor

    I agree with Mal below and feel pretty sure that Joselu is a better player currently than Asombalonga for a third of the price. Rafa is going to have to earn his salary this season and if the likes of Merino, Murphy. :Lejeune, Joselu prove to be real bargains we will be set up very well for the future considering the vastly better finances that should be available to him next year. What stands out to me is that Ashley seems to be angling to sell the club so fingers crossed we attract a more ambitious owner.

  • Essex_Toon

    I’m very pleased to see Joselu through the door. All hands to the pump for this season. He has a point to prove, and he’ll get his chance with us.

    The money being thrown around in world football is disgraceful. And, in a way, I’m glad our hands are financially tied. I would hate to see us spaff 20, 30, or even 40 mil on an overpriced player. Our next record signing (whenever they are signed) should be someone deserving of the title. If we bought Andre Gray or Arnautovic for silly money then I’d be disappointed. As good as some of these “big signings” are, they just aren’t worth the inflated prices.

    We’ve had bargains in the past and I’m sure we’ll continue to sign players who want fresh starts and have a point to prove. While our transfer policy is currently toothless I’m more eager to see our team go above and beyond expectation and stay up on a more “humble” budget than the rest of the premier teams.

  • Down Under Mag

    To be honest I actually thought we did really well against Spurs right up until Shelvey got himself sent off, especially considering we had two forced changes at the back and were up against a side that were supposed to be up there challenging in the league this season. Just because we haven’t spent a fortune I don’t want to see fans writing the players off before they even have a chance to prove themselves.

  • 1ewis

    Too much negativity in the article. The season just started and I’m sure the manager and the squad are good enough for a mid-table finish as long as Shelvey doesn’t get himself dismissed again. There is a professional scouting system in place to gauge signings, if Rafa signs Joselu, then there must be good reasons for doing so.

  • Schön Scheepers

    Sorry…negative…lejeune looked solid…atsu was terrific…never stopped trying…manquillo did his business…I was impressed with our attitude…never stopped trying…The word is supporter…I support newcastle united…The team…howay the lads!!!

  • Wor Lass

    One of the best articles on here for a while, Ryan. I don`t think it`s negative – just a realistic and sensible appraisal of the facts. You DO get what you pay for. But maybe you should have focused more on what we have that other teams don`t i.e. Rafa. He`s paid for potential, players who he believes have talent that he can get them to fulfil. He`s said himself that it`s a gamble but it`s one he has to take due to the financial constraints he`s operating under. There`s nothing negative about pointing that out.

  • mactoon

    Good article but it could be summed up in one quote, “The bottom line is that the Newcastle manager hasn’t been allowed/backed to bring in a certain level of signing and so has had to take risks all over the place.”

    It’s spot on that the level of money spent per player has a greater level of risk but while this is true I am impressed with what I have seen of most of the new signings, especially Atsu so I am optimistic. Looking forward to seeing what Joselu can bring to the front line hopefully as a foil for Gayle on Sunday.

  • Bradley Sparkes

    If we do indeed bring in four new players, I expect/hope to see another striker, an attacking midfielder, leftback and goalkeeper (Rafa seems intent on this, although I think we should take Woodman’s potential very seriously or risk losing him).

    If we sell Krul and a clutch of other players, we could realistically make about £10 m. If we then bring in a striker for £12-15 m (Perez?!?), an AM (loan?) and a LB (£8-10 m?), we’re not talking much extra net-spend!

    That said, I have massive doubts that this is how things will play out and that we’ll end up appeased by Joselu, Kenedy on loan and a second-rate goalkeeper.