This summer has been billed a big summer, a HUGE summer, for Newcastle United with so many things in the balance.

Mind I can’t remember a summer that wasn’t a big one for some reason or another since I start supporting NUFC.

Recent years have seen doubts in whether we’d bring in any players at all, never mind speculation on just how much would be spent. There were doubts about the abilities of those in charge of the playing staff, as well as those who were tasked in identifying who we should bring in.

What isn’t in doubt is the ability of Rafa Benitez as a manager, his passion for the Club and his determination to succeed in this job.

How quickly things can change, compare now to this time last year: the mackems having a laugh at our expense, in the space of a year the two Clubs seem light years apart. They have an owner that clearly doesn’t want to be there, a manager that appears to have lost all motivation to be there and a fed up fanbase that can’t be bothered to turn up for home games.

With Newcastle United at the minute we have a completely different prospect, for one we have some (ED: prospects!). We have a world class manager who on the face of it has reinvigorated the Club’s owner, or at least made him see sense. Everything is geared towards NUFC punching its weight amongst the big boys.

I’m not saying all is perfect in NE1, it is still in people’s minds that our owner might balls up everything good going for the Club up and this is totally understandable, as the last 10 years has proven our owner is capable of anything.

Newcastle United used to be in the top two in the country in terms of attendances, but we’ve slipped down that list and will continue to do so as more clubs move to larger grounds or increase their current stadium’s capacity –  60k seems to be the norm nowadays and if things carry on at their current trajectory I believe we could as a fanbase top that.

Having 52k attendances in the Championship is phenomenal but I would love to see St James Park expand to its full potential as the Club does the same. As the biggest Club in the North East we could pull people in from across the region.

The atmosphere at the final home game was something else! The dramatic way we won the title just made it extra special and it’ll stick long in the memory – Just imagine what it would be like if we actually won one of the big ones!

A lot is being made of how much in terms of a transfer budget Rafa has/will get. I don’t read too much into figures: how much is needed, how much we have left over from previous windows etc.

I mean, for every £15m Alan Shearer signing there’s a £700k Rob Lee out there.

Proven quality and potential come at a premium and we’ll probably break our transfer record at least once this summer but that will only happen if Rafa reckons it’s warranted, as we well know, spending a fortune doesn’t guarantee you anything.

There are bargains to be had out there and Rafa Benitez likes to develop players. Look at Hayden; we’ve had Arsenal’s pants down there, £2m for an absolute Rolls Royce of a player. Compare that with £12ms we spent on Cabella, Thauvin – absolute mercenaries who thought they’d made it already.

There certainly won’t be an open cheque book or unlimited PayPal account, though all the noises coming from the Club indicate that Rafa will armed with budget sufficient enough to build on the team as he sees fit otherwise he wouldn’t have stayed.

With Rafa you get the feeling we won’t be entering any unknown transfer markets; he’ll have his own network which should help mitigate against signing players that aren’t up to scratch. Where this leaves the much maligned Graham Carr is another article in itself.

Look at last summer, we signed 12 players and I can think of only 2/3 from that group that haven’t made a significant positive impact on the pitch this season, that’s a decent success ratio, it’s impossible to get it 100% right. I think if you look at the success rate in terms of transfers of any manager in the world you will find a flock of black sheep.

There’s also the task of offloading those deemed surplus to requirements, we have players on our books that were probably signed to get us out of the Championship, we also have players out on loan that haven’t made any significant impression whilst away – decisions will need to be made.

We will see, it might be that Rafa signs 7 players at plus £20m each, he might loan 3 or 4, who knows? I’m just excited at the prospect of who is coming in to wear the black & white shirt next season, I’m even keen to see who he brings in as assistant manager, bliddy hell I’m just excited again!

So aye, another big summer ahead from the outside looking in but Rafa has been working on all this since the first day he took the job. He sees big things ahead for the Club and from a personal point of view it’s great to think I’ll be in the stands to watch the fruits of his labour.

In Rafa We Trust.

Howay me bonny lads!!!

You can follow the author on Twitter @lyon1892

(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])

  • Pelican

    Ashley will not be breaking any transfer records if you calculate the
    amount including inflation & market value rises. Not even come
    close. How much would a £15 million Shearer be worth at today’s prices –
    perhaps 10x that.

    I only mention it out of respect for the ambition the club had before Ashley. It would be unfair to give any credit to breaking the transfer record, like it was a sign of better things. Credit where it is or isn’t due.

  • Cuh736

    Typical. All successful transfers are Rafa’s, while Carr is a no good waste who got us… Darlow, Lascelles, Mbemba, Anita, Gouffran, Mitrovic, Shelvey, Ayoze.

    In the past, Ba, Cabaye, Santon, Remy, Ben Arfa.

    Had us linked with Aubameyang, Lacazette, Gomis, Dele Alli, etc

    Correct me if i’m wrong

    • Damon Horner

      That’s the rule! if it succeeds then Carr had nothing to do with it(!)

      It’s not the quality of the player that’s the issue with Carr’s signings in m view, it’s the mix of them in terms of playing styles, personalities and mentalities, Carr probably has a good eye for a player but it was without consideration to how it pieces together, he left that to the “head coach” to figure out. Thauvin is probably the best example, a player with quality but didn’t look like he even wanted to be here.

      • Andy Mac

        Yes but……………………….Saivet, Riviere, De Jong, Cabella, Ferreyra and Doumbia ?

        • Damon Horner

          what about them?

          • Andrevv

            Bloody useless them.

    • 1957

      I don’t think Carr was that bad at his job, he was just blinkered when it came to the type of players, their positions and ability to play in a very different league to the one he scouted them in. For all his perceived faults he made some good buys and in the case of Cabaye and Sissoko big profits when they moved on.

      In his short time with us Rafa has had his share of duds…Diame, Hanley and Lazaar (although I haven’t really seen enough of him), all potentially with us for another 2 or 3 years with no realistic prospect of being PL standard.

  • Damon Horner

    I’ve always thought Ashley leaves the footballing side to the “football minds”, our problem is who those minds belonged to and how they were structured. Right now it appears to be Rafa who has that trust and unless something happens which raises question, underhand or otherwise, I can see that continuing.

  • Sing in the Leazes

    I wonder about the pastoral care provided by the club.
    Thauvin and Cabella looked like children to me. Probably posted their laundry home to France (I knew someone who did this)!
    Whilst Carr certainly has his skills (remember he was at one time the most lauded scout I’ve ever heard of) his signings seldom seemed like leaders. Cabbaye maybe the exception.
    But back in the day when we were mint we had half a dozen players who had captained their country!
    St James’ is a tough stage for anyone lacking mental strength.
    Carr seems ignorant of this.
    So you have 3 steps to failure (if you’ll indulge a plant based analogy…)
    1 Carr picks delicate flowers
    2 they wilt under the lights at st james
    3 they are hung out to dry!

    So where debuchy and cabaye were old enough for Newcastle to thrive
    Cabella thauvin and a number of other more vulnerable souls floundered
    But if you are chucking 12million at a player surely you can look after them a bit better? Thauvin is a talent. But he looked lost when he was here. It’s too easy to blame his attitude. It’s what the club want too. I wonder if we are ‘spoiling the ship for a ha’peth of tar’ as me gran used to say!

  • Alreet

    I think carr had too much power at one time and just gave a list of all the players that were even close to ok.

    We cant forget the explosion of Ba Cisse Ben Arfa. Tiote and cabaye.

    Not all bad but it has been about 50/50 bad and good in recent years. From the first de jong to the mess of riveire to the pointless Doumbia and thauvin.

    Rafa will have a much better sucess rate. Only a handfull of the players from last season havnt lived up. From gamez to lazaar and hanley but then again they were squad players to cover injury.

    I can see a huge cull coming then a structured rebuild

  • Rich Lawson

    If Rafa wants to pick his own transfers then so be it,he deserves nothing less.If Mike feels a duty to Carr can’t he make him head of recruitment at Sports Direct shops instead ?

  • Harry Farr

    Hope they finish in the top ten….2018..