As journalists and opposing fans desperately look for ways to diminish the job Rafa Benitez is doing at Newcastle United, there was a bit of a reality check on Tuesday night.
The perception of many is that Newcastle are top of the league simply because they have bought a lot of very expensive players, that any fool could mould into what is looking a title winning team.
The truth is a little bit more complicated and whilst Newcastle have got some players who cost a lot more than most Championship clubs could/would pay, in most cases it is wide of the mark.
Rafa Benitez saw a host of players demand moves and/or need shifting from the club last summer.
He had no choice but to rebuild a squad that could cope with a mad 46 game frantic Championship season, summed up by the demands of this crazy three game spell away at clubs in the top five.
Last night’s team v Reading was:
£3.5m Karl Darlow
Free Jesus Gamez
£3.5m Jamaal Lascelles
£5m Ciaran Clark
Free Paul Dummett
£10m Matt Ritchie
£13m Jonjo Shelvey
Free Jack Colback
£1.5m Yoan Gouffran
£1.5m Ayoze Perez
£3m Daryl Murphy
Leaving aside Shelvey and Ritchie, the other nine players cost only £18m, an average of £2m per player. (BTW – Yes I know £18m is still £18m but if you read about any Championship club buying a player for £2m you wouldn’t fall off your seat!)
The big advantage Newcastle United have this season, isn’t the amount of money that has or hasn’t been spent.
Obviously it helps…but it is the talent of Rafa Benitez that has moulded the title favourites, Aston Villa are the prime example (like many relegated teams before them) that simply having a lot of (relatively) expensive signings in your team makes no difference if you have the right man in charge.
Stats from BBC Sport:
Reading 0 Newcastle 0
Possession was Reading 70% Newcastle 30%
Total shots were Reading 8 Newcastle 13
Shots on target were Reading 1 Newcastle 5
Corners were Reading 7 Newcastle 5
Referee: Andy Davies
Darlow, Gamez, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Ritchie, Colback (Diame 88), Shelvey, Gouffran (Atsu 69), Perez, Murphy (Gayle 75)
Elliot, Hanley, Mbemba, Anita
Crowd: 23,121 (3,704 Newcastle)
(To read the instant fan/writer reaction to this Reading match go HERE)
(To read what Jaap Stam had to say after the game go HERE)
(Jamaal Lascelles spoke after the match, read that HERE)
(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])