Rafa Benitez has spoken for the first time since the transfer window opened.
The United boss admitting that the situation is ‘not ideal’, as ‘everybody (including him!) wants to see a lot of players signed already’.
By this stage last season, Newcastle had signed five new players, including three new front six players in Dwight Gayle, Isaac Hayden and Matt Ritchie, all who would prove key to promotion and eventually the title.
Squad player Jesus Gamez had also signed on by that point, along with a new first choice keeper in Matz Sels, though that one wouldn’t prove quite as successful.
Squad player (started 15 Championship games last season) Christian Atsu became a permanent signing in May after a year on loan, with the only other signing so far being Florian Lejeune, the 26 year old only having one season so far in top flight football. Before playing last season for Spanish minnows SD Eibar in La Liga, Lejeune had played only a handful of matches outside the French and Spanish second tiers, meaning it may take him time to adjust to the Premier League.
Rafa’s message is that he and others simply ‘have to keep working’ to try and find signings this summer, the manager adding ‘we can do nothing else’.
At no stage in his 16 months at St James Park has Rafa Benitez gone over the top, in terms of his reaction to anything positive or negative, so no surprise that his public message is to stay calm and say he will keep looking for the right players.
The Newcastle manager made clear he wasn’t happy when the club refused to back him with the signings, even loan ones, he wanted in January, but then said the only thing to do was carry on with what he had and make sure they got the job of promotion completed.
Clearly the club are well behind in the recruitment the Spaniard would have hoped/expected to have seen by now, but it is inconceivable that Mike Ashley won’t shift his position this time on transfers, if Newcastle continue to be priced out of deals due to a rigid idea of what can be paid in transfer fees and wages.
A year ago Rafa Benitez made clear that he was building a team that was specifically structured to get the club out of the Championship at the first attempt, with then further major work being needed to be done if they were then indeed promoted.
Even though he made the club a £40m profit in the transfer market last summer, nobody can really complain that Rafa wasn’t supported when it came to transfers back then, with some £50m spent.
However, with fees like £10m (Gayle) and £12m (Ritchie) spent in summer 2016 to ensure promotion, you would think that the reality must be that the manager will be backed to bring in some players with transfer fees far in excess of those, if he believes they are the right moves to make.
Yes the transfer market is ‘crazy’ but so is the income you get from simply staying in the Premier League.
“We know where we are…it’s not ideal because everybody wants to see a lot of players signed already.
“But we have to keep working and trying to find the players we want.
“We can do nothing else.
“We have to find the players we want and hopefully we can do it.
“It’s not easy for a lot of teams because the market is a bit crazy, we have to try to do our best.
“Obviously, the top sides have a lot of money.
“The other teams are spending some money but we will see if we can do our job.”