One thing that all fans must surely agree on, is that there is a desperate need for at least one new Newcastle striker to be brought in this summer.
The very fact that Rafa Benitez felt compelled to ‘trust’ a pretty poor Papiss Cisse up front in the crucial relegation matches, whilst the likes of Mitrovic and Perez sat on the bench, tells us that the Manager quickly judged that he didn’t have 100% faith in any of United’s current forwards.
Whether getting the chance of working in a pre-season with them will make any difference to his thinking is open to question, though on the other hand it isn’t an exact science when it comes to buying and selling the players you would ideally like to see come and go.
Seydou Doumbia and Emmanuel Riviere quickly had their cards marked by Rafa, the pair of them playing a total of 29 minutes (3 brief Doumbia sub appearances) under the new manager and both struggling to even get on the bench.
One Newcastle striker who looks sure to feature is Adam Armstrong, with the drop to the Championship bringing his opportunity far quicker, after his 20 goals showed that League One would only be a stepping stone.
The 19 year old Geordie forward will surely be one of the four Newcastle strikers this coming season but must be nailed on to be an impact sub, at least until he proves otherwise and/or injuries suspensions intervene.
Despite Papiss Cisse claiming he won’t be leaving – I can’t see him being entertained for another season by Rafa Benitez and both he and Riviere will be priorities to get them out of the club and free up cash to use elsewhere.
For Mitrovic and Perez, I sense that they are players seen as expendable by Benitez, especially judging by their lack of game so far, though whether or not reasonable bids are received for them will almost certainly dictate their futures.
At a guess, I would say Mitrovic is the one who is almost certain to be still at Newcastle next season, he has shown in certain games he could be effective, especially with the drop into the Championship, plus his wages and Newcastle wanting most of their money back on his over the top transfer fee, are further barriers to any sale.
Ideally I would like to see a minimum of two new strikers to make up a four pronged attack, alongside Mitrovic and Armstrong.
However, bringing in the right players is a major task. With all the extra money now swilling around the Premier League, every single one of those 20 clubs can at least match, or probably better, any financial package United could offer, plus of course they have the attraction of the Premier League to sell.
So then if you look for potential strikers who could be attracted, you are the looking at a bigger risk factor – failed Premier League strikers (at least in recent seasons), forwards from overseas (always question marks if they can do it in England), or players who are doing it in the lower leagues (such as League One where Adam Armstrong showed he was a match for pretty much anyone).
Even when you look at potential signings from the Championship, it isn’t easy. Of those who scored goals last season in the second tier, a fair few have been promoted and of those still in the Championship, you have the likes of Ross McCormack with any bidding claimed to start at around £12m – this for a forward who has never played in the Premier League and turns 30 in August.
Everybody is looking for strikers and the only place I think Rafa Benitez will find them and indeed probably accepts is the case already, is in the loan market.
Not of course any ridiculous Graham Carr deals such as Facundo Ferreyra and Seydou Doumbia but deals for talented strikers where it will suit both Newcastle United, the player in question, and his current club.
This is where we must surely have massive confidence in Rafa Benitez having the ability to succeed, where Newcastle’s ridiculous transfer strategy has failed so badly in recent seasons.
With his contacts and credibility both in England and on the continent, I am really excited to see who he can bring in.
Maybe it will be a striker(s) who is out of our reach and will be strictly for one season only, or a player(s) who will come on an initial loan with a view to being permanent if promotion is achieved.
Either way, I think we will be at long last on the way to bringing in at least one striker to replace Demba Ba who left Newcastle three and a half years and still hasn’t really been replaced.
Without goals in the squad any team will struggle, whether it is Premier League or Championship, Newcastle currently don’t have enough goals in the current set of players to be confident of promotion but that is about to change very soon.
Rafa Benitez, the man with the plan.