Rafa Benitez has quickly identified just how deep the problems run through Newcastle United, from first team right down to the youth set-up.
The problems at first team level have been transparent for some time, last season’s relegation only coming about after very near misses in two of the last three seasons.
The fact that Rafa Benitez has already brought in five senior signings and got rid of seven, with a lot more ins and outs anticipated, tells you everything you need to know about how serious he sees that senior team picture.
However, what has also become just as obvious, is just how seriously lacking the new United boss sees the rest of the club.
Despite the demands of getting back to the Premier League, Rafa has seen no alternative but to take urgent action to address the issues below the first team.
Building a decent youth set-up takes years but in the meantime the Newcastle Manager saw the essential need for emergency surgery.
Last season, the Newcastle Academy and Reserves performed even worse than the first team, which took some doing. The lack of professional leadership, planning and proper investment having left the lower levels of Newcastle United in a shocking state.
Considering the reserves were playing in the second division, their record of only four wins all season in the 24 matches (14 defeats) tells its own story.
There is a losing mentality throughout the club: the first team, reserves and academy all blending into one with collective failure. Undoubtedly some talented individuals at each levek but let down by the lack of investment and care needed to create a successful professionally run football club.
Rafa Benitez has been making changes behind the scenes in terms of tackling the not fit for purpose facilities at the training ground and this has extended into desperately looking for new players to fill the skills gap below the first team.
Stuart Findlay has been given a contract after Celtic didn’t offer the 20 year old defender a new deal, whilst it was the same case with Yasin Ben El-Mhanni who is also 20, the striker having spent time at a number of non-league clubs as well as unsuccessful brief trials at Chelsea and West Brom.
On Sunday, Newcastle fans were surprised to see three trialists included in the friendly against Bradford Park Avenue. These were 21 year old striker Tyler Harvey who League Two Plymouth have let go, 20 year old striker Flavio da Silva who Benfica let go, and defender George Ede who has played non-league football for the likes of Croydon but is currently without a club.
I don’t want to be too negative but surely it would take a miracle for any of these players to be involved with the first team in the future if Newcastle return to the Premier League.
It appears clearly that this is a drastic stop-gap move by Rafa Benitez to try and put a halt to the week-in week-out defeats for the reserves and the academy.
An attempt to try and help the young Newcastle players who do stand some chance of potentially progressing, to lift them out of this constant cycle of losing football games and little doubt that it has badly affected their performances and enthusiasm.
Signing young players who the likes of Celtic, Plymouth and others are discarding, hardly suggests they will suddenly transform into Premier League stars of the future.
The local media are also now reporting that the intention is to bring in numerous other trialists this summer to try and help address the lack of quality below first team.
This whole sad story at Newcastle United has been brought about by Mike Ashley’s previous lack of investment throughout the club, plus insistence on employing people who would do as they were told and follow daft strategies for club development without being willing/able to point out were it was leading the club.
Even Mike Ashley realised the game was up in May and that without somebody of Rafa Benitez’ ability, the rotten state of Newcastle United at all levels had no chance of being brought back to health.
It really doesn’t bear thinking about just where we would be without Rafa.