So, the resurrection of Newcastle United gathers pace and from a personal point of view, I can’t think that the summer could have gone any better thus far. The most important signing at the club, being the retention of the manager
With less than a month until the big kick off, we have seen the club go about its business quietly and diligently in the aftermath of relegation, only the disappointment of Andros Townsend’s departure leaving a somewhat sour taste. Still, this can easily be explained away with the old ‘if you don’t want to play for the club, get out’ attitude and that goes for any player at the club.
Rafa Benitez has bought into what the club means to supporters, like no other manager I think we could have attracted, it’s remarkable that a manager of such stature and quality is willing to stick with a relegated club and attempt to rebuild it for the future.
Signings have been positive.
A goalkeeper, an experienced full back, a bright young centre-back/defensive midfielder, along with a Championship quality striker and winger, all with a view to making the step up once Premier League status is restored. More incomings are needed of course, but as important as they will be, the outgoings must be shrewd and judicious.
Rafa Benitez is playing an astute game with regards to the so-called ‘big boys’ of the team.
It would be easy for me, after the absolute failure of last season to wish away from the club, the likes of Sissoko, Wijnaldum and Janmaat, and after his latest injury, I fail to see the sense in persisting with perma-crock Siem De Jong, someone who’s making Duncan Ferguson look like Lazarus.
However, the manager recognises two things, talking the players down isn’t going to increase their value, merely lower it, although if Moussa Sissoko is now valued by the club at £35m after a moderate Euro 2016 performance, then fair play to the club if they get anywhere near it.
The other thing Rafa recognises is that once the window shuts in September, there is the prospect of being stuck with some of these players that underperformed last season and he’ll want them to be as happy as possible to plough on through a season down in the Championship. Without a few of them spitting the dummy out on a cold night in December where the opposition may not be as glamorous as it might have been had we stayed up.
The outgoings continue as the days and weeks build up to the new season. I won’t be shedding a tear over the loss of Coloccini, Taylor, Obertan, Marveaux or Cisse as they simply haven’t contributed anything near what is required for the club in a long time. Far from being disappointed at them being let go for free, the saving on wages alone must be astronomical.
Back to the players we’ve already secured and everything looks good so far.
The signing of Matz Sels is an unusual one and certainly raises a big question mark over Tim Krul once he’s fully fit.
Dwight Gayle seems a good acquisition and one that could see a decent partnership develop with Mitrovic, I just hope that Adam Armstrong isn’t sacrificed to allow this as he should be allowed to play a part this season.
Isaac Hayden and Matt Ritchie look like decent signings and certainly look to be part of a shift in policy from going over to France and signing players that hold no guarantees of doing well in England.
Another change in transfer policy is seen in Jesus Gamez, a full back who at 31, can play both sides and add a bit of competition. No longer should we prioritise a signing on what the player could get us in re-sale value, that doesn’t get you a player that’s going to want to do well for himself and the club, Sissoko being a case in point.
Something else that seems to have happened so far this summer is that the signings have been made early, BEFORE pre-season has begun. A decent amount of competency has been brought to dealings this summer that contradicts the approach of recent seasons that came across as haphazard at best. This has to be down to Benitez, certainly the side that played against Bohemians yesterday, could be regarded as a good one for our first game of the season in under three weeks time.
There will be more comings and goings before we face Fulham on August 5th as Rafa shapes his side for the long season ahead, but like I’ve already said, we are reaping the rewards already of a professional approach from a professional manager.
The most important signing we made this summer was Rafa Benitez.