Always knew Graham Carr would come in handy one day
The jigsaw is starting to come together, slowly but surely.
Last week it was Rafa Benitez confirming he would be continuing at St James Park, whilst this week Rafa has confirmed his backroom staff, with Mikel Antia replacing Fabio Pecchia as his assistant being the only change.
Pre-season was always going to be a short and sweet affair this time around and a week’s training camp in Ireland has replaced a trek to America. A friendly against Bohemians (16 July) is the first of five to seven friendlies that the Manager hopes to arrange before the big kick-off.
As for the most important thing, the players on the pitch, we are all waiting in anticipation of what is going to happen.
Patience is likely to be very much a virtue and with almost four weeks of the transfer window remaining after the Championship kicks off, it is very unlikely we will see everything sorted by then.
The latest Fabricio Coloccini interview over in Argentina has no doubt cheered a few hearts, with promise of a defensive clearout that is at least a year or two later than ideal.
The Newcastle Captain once again said he hoped to sign for San Lorenzo this summer and gave us a bit of additional information, stating that Rafa Benitez was looking to base his defence on players who are under 25. Meaning that as well as Coloccini himself, it suggests that as expected Daryl Janmaat will also be traded in, whilst only this morning the club confirmed Steven Taylor will not be getting another contract when his current one ends on 30 June.
The fact that players such as Mitrovic, Perez and Shelvey weren’t significant parts of Rafa Benitez’ fight against relegation, suggests that it is not just at the back where Newcastle will see a major shift in personnel. The only question is whether it will be evolution or revolution when it comes to heading in the direction where Rafa wants to take the team/club.
Whilst on the surface it may look difficult to find buyers for the likes of Shelvey and Mitrovic, just like houses, if they are priced correctly then they will sell.
If Rafa Benitez really does have freedom to do whatever he wants, it will be interesting to see just how ruthless he is in dispensing with expensive mistakes from the past, or whether he believes he can mould them into his way of thinking.
Along with Coloccini, the likes of Krul, Anita, Tiote and Cisse all have only one year of their contracts remaining and maybe that will be the first indication of where Rafa Benitez is heading. If no new deals are announced in the next few weeks then surely we will be looking at a much bigger changeover in the squad than most maybe imagined, as you can’t imagine players being left to see out the remaining year and leave for nothing next summer.
The one positive of the over the top wages and fees paid in recent years, is that there is a lot of room for slashing the wage bill and generating transfer funds for Rafa without damaging the core players he wants to keep.
We always knew Graham Carr would come in handy one day.
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