Rafa Benitez, having been in management for over thirty years and won thirteen major honours to date, is no fool.

He has been there, seen it all and emerged as a champion at many different levels – working within many different management structures with very different personality types.

It is fascinating to read the views of Newcastle United fans every day – from wide-eyed optimism to chronic negativity, the division of opinion has never been wider than it is today.

Friday’s first pre-season friendly against Hearts, offered up a brief glimpse of possible things to come.

Florian Lejeune showed flashes of class as an imposing back line enforcer, whilst Siem De Jong had us wishing he had the fitness to go along with his undeniable talents. As an attacking force spearheaded by Dwight Gayle, we looked good, great even –  at times.

With pace and intent, we swept aside the opposition in the first half and looked a team capable of inflicting real damage on our day. This was only a friendly, our first one, but there are signs that Rafa will provide a team with heart and fight, a team with a decent chance of staying up to build on next season.

It now looks like we will sign Jacob Murphy from Norwich this week. He certainly looks a good prospect and a player who will add pace and vision to our flanks. But more importantly he will add competition to the ranks, something that Rafa demands and understands will keep the squad focussed and motivated throughout the season.

There certainly does seem to be a fixation with pacey wingers this transfer window, players who can explode on the counter attack and whip in the crosses for a target man in front of goal.

So, this is where I am going to lay my (miniscule) reputation on the line.

I believe that we will quite possibly sign Bas Dost very late in the window, after all the early transfer season madness and the fees settle down a bit. This would potentially explain why we are haggling for every single pound on the positions that need to be filled at this early stage, saving anything we can to make the big hit when the time is right!

Transfers are taking an age to complete right now but believe you me, other than being incredibly infuriating, that can only be a good thing. Rafa understands that past (Newcastle United) transfer errors have had a serious impact on his early tenure. He is intent on carrying out meticulous due diligence with regards to character and spirit alongside the obvious physical and tactical requirements of a player.

Every pre-season friendly will reveal a little more about Rafa’s plans for the forthcoming season and I for one cannot wait for the first game to arrive.

Here’s a thought.

When we smashed Spurs 5-1 in our last Premier league game at St James Park, it was Georginio Wijnaldum who stole the show and was crowned man of the match.

Is our squad currently in a better or worse position than that amazing day, when Rafa Benitez inspired the troops to play far beyond their collective abilities?

Are Matt Ritchie, Rolando Aarons or Christian Atsu capable of filling the Liverpool Dutchman’s boots?

Are we made of sterner stuff following a season of battle in the Championship and another year of Benitez under our players skin?

I, Dom Morgan, choose to be optimistic about the forthcoming season. It is not through enlightenment or blind trust, or anything other than choosing to see the glass as half full for the sake of my dwindling sanity. In Benitez, and Rafa Benitez only, I trust. Viva la Rafulation!

If, like me, you live and breathe anything football then please feel free to join my Fantasy Premier League ‘World XI’ league- Code: 114600-30208

Dom also has his own website which you can visit here – www.natureslarder.tv

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

  • Rob

    Fantastically written. And I couldn’t agree more! I’m kind of bored of constant thoughts that everything is going wrong at NUFC. What if now things are actually going quite well, and we just can’t see it!
    We are not going to win the league this year. We are not going to sign £90million strikers. But we currently have something of equal significance… a top quality manager who knows how to win!

    • Damon Horner

      Agree. We suddenly went from not demanding a team that wins but demanding a club that tries to now getting a lot of fans vocally upset that we don’t have a team capable of winning at this stage and judged on nothing but subjective opinion!

      Rafa made noises about wanting business early but maybe this has now become the long game like Dom suggested, teams take different strategies in different sports on a regular basis.

      • Martin Rooney

        It depends on who he actually wants and how their clubs are also doing with their transfer business. Let’s say a club wanted Rashford, but as didn’t they renew with zlatan that’s out the window. Its not as simple as just showing the cash. Murphy wants to move to one club Norwich are peeved they can’t drive up the price in an auction as every club seemingly knows where he wants to be, but of course the doomsayers of west ham, Southampton stoke etc will be blasting their
        club for not signing him etc et. These idiots we ho moan at the first chance are just thick.

        • Damon Horner

          there are a lot of fans don’t understand how transfers and negotiations work and when those lacking intelligence don’t understand something and they feel mugged off they throw tantrums.

          This is not a perfect situation by a any means but it’s not the disaster it’s painted as.

          • TheNutJob

            it`s as simple as A B C you place a bid & its either accepted or rejected
            it`s fools like you that complicate a simple transaction

          • Damon Horner

            you’re wasted on this site mate. You should be doing our transfers.

    • X,WHY,Y MAN.

      10 years of Mike Ashley should tell you all that is required in this instance !
      Two relegations in that time and the same mistakes made over and over again.

      Yes everything is no doubt going well…

      • Martin Rooney

        Howay nan why aye worra ya Gannon on a boot ya knacka. Is it ya intenshun to show that world that Geordie’s o dumb

        • X,WHY,Y MAN.

          “That World That” ?
          Pot, Kettle, Black lol

  • Stephen

    Very rare!
    A Mag half full

  • Soldier

    he`ll be off if the current situation doesnt improve dramatically in the next few weeks

  • Geordiegiants

    The Mag mustn’t of approved this. They just put this peice out in their desperation to get a story out without the same 4/5 titles, it’s a bit too positive for me.

  • TheFatController

    Yes, apparently Rafa is a workaholic, demands plenty of people.

    His demanding nature would mean he would tell Charnley ‘don’t spend my transfer budget on ludicrous agent demands, ludicrous valuations and stupid wages’

    He would say ‘don’t get me nothing, but be as meticulous in dealing with agents and clubs as I am with my team preparations’

    So when it takes time to negotiate from a position of a high fee, huge agent fee and huge wages to something more realistic, iI suspect Rafa will expect Charnley to negotiate for 20 players for 5 positions until those negotiations achieve something acceptable. Then they sign a player Rafa wanted at the outlay Rafa approves of.

    • Soldier

      Rafa`s wanted list went down the toilet weeks ago mate

  • Damon Horner

    You just know if we signed Bas Dost that the opinions would be all about how we paid more than we should have done, done out of desperation and lacks PL experience all to be forgotten if he does a good job.

    No matter what gets said now, football really is just all about results, not so much about how we get there, this will all be bluster for nothing and forgotten if we start well and this season goes comfortably.

    • X,WHY,Y MAN.

      Bas Dost is nothing more than a seasonal “Mike Ashley Red Herring” when it comes to the window.
      How many times has this blokes name been mentioned ?
      He’s up there in a long list of players which Ashley puts out in his usual summer “PSY-OP” which has historically included names like Gokhan Inler, Arda Turan, Eren Derdiyok to name a few.

      • Damon Horner

        You might be right. Maybe tell the writer that, I used his name in response to it being used in the article.

  • X,WHY,Y MAN.

    Rafa is about to show his hand…

    And it is empty !

    You can trust in Rafa until the cows come home but at the end of the day he works for Mike Ashley.

  • Mayor Vaughn

    Careful! optimism is frowned upon in these parts. You’ll be pegged as a happy clapper.

    • Dom Morgan

      I’ve been engulfed by the NUFC doom and gloom so many times and it hurts! You’ll see my negativity rising to the surface if we’re served up negative football by a squad of hearltess cowards this season. Leicester won the league with heart and a never say die attitude. We will not emulate that but Rafa will have us fighting tooth and nail for the cause. That is worth many extra points a season and for now I refuse to become emotionally destroyed by the doomsay scenarios. We’re a premier league team once again… until we’re not.

      • TheNutJob

        Rafa wont be here mate if they fail to add some quality to the squad
        the man`s not daft

        • Mayor Vaughn

          My approach these days is to wait and see instead of stressing over it, when i was younger i used to get massively wound up by all things NUFC but nowadays not so much. What will be will be, but i have decided to choose cautious optimism that next season we will be ok. By ok i mean not relegated and that will do for me in the short term.

          • Leazes Ender

            Not relegated….. that is true ambition, reach for those stars.

          • Mayor Vaughn


          • Leazes Ender

            Why is realism always the ‘bottom line’ and lack of ambition…..isn’t that strange?

          • Mayor Vaughn

            Not strange at all, why is being a mid table premier league team not ambitious? It would seem it’s actually pretty difficult to do season in season out. We’ve been mostly shoite for the 30 odd years i’ve been going to the match so yeah excuse me for just wanting to compete with Stoke and West Brom for a while.

          • Leazes Ender

            You see its like this….. I’m positive because I want United to challenge for things and I believe they can but only if the club drives forward with a plan,for the future acquires ambition and has control of its revenue streams, and with this owner and his puppet chairman it is impossible. The chairman gives away advertising and the owner takes it without paying anybody, The Chairman gives land away that a future owner and fans may have wanted for expansion in order to keep up with the rest of the division. Instead we have been asset stripped and downsized by this negative regime.

            People such as fleckman and mongo and Standen and Dr Ed, are absolutely negative because they don’t want ambition.

            Denis Cassidy in his book pointed out that football is a skill in the management of both finances and decision making, both of which have been cast aside by this regime. You cannot run a club like this on a shoestring and make calamitous decisions which are born out by Charnleys timing, and the abandonment of the prime purpose of a football club…. to win things.

            I don’t like the terms ‘negativity’ and ‘positivity’ because it seems that ‘positivity’ has been hijacked by some extraordinarily negative people (or person if its the same guy)

            Positivity is saying I can and I will drive the club forward, build on success, expand the stadium, remove the poor players and keep the good.

            Ashley Out ……..now that is a positive message!

          • Mayor Vaughn

            I don’t disagree with any of that but i just don’t have the energy these days to get that wound up about it, maybe thats a symptom of us being so rubbish for so much of the time i’ve supported, maybe (Probably) it’s an Ashley era reaction. My passion has had the edges smoothed off like a pebble, when i was younger i lived and breathed the club sucked up any info i could get, i remember being excited by signings like Billy Askew or Paul Bodin on loan!
            That passion isn’t there anymore, i still get wound up during games but when the whistle goes to finish the game i move on.
            I so want them to do well, but i just don’t see it happening so i’ll take mid table.

          • Leazes Ender

            Mid-table is safety?…. going through the motions of pretending to be a football club, no sorry that’s not realism it isn’t even safety because when you don’t have a target you under perform and you are in trouble.

            Ashley and Charnley made that gamble twice and lost both times.

          • Mayor Vaughn

            I’m not saying to deliberately play for mid table, that is dangerous. I just think mid table is our reality and the sooner people come to terms with it the better i reckon. Sad state of affairs but we can not compete at the sharp end unfortunately nobody has to be happy about it but i just refuse to get too upset about it either, look at Evertons spend so far i bet it still only gets them a 5th or 6th place finish.

          • nevfur

            Probably the best post I have read from you. Good points well put

        • Scottpaige

          Not as daft as you anyway

  • Steve Smith

    It’s not a good thing to allow transfer negotiations to drag on with limited signings. Other teams will know we’re desperate and that the fans and media will be in the club’s back. That only weakens our bargaining position.

    If we had made a good number of signings already and other teams knew we were able to walk away from negotiations without consequence then it would be a different matter…

  • Scottpaige

    Nobody as a Newcastle seems to be able to make a positive comment now without getting jumped on by the doom and gloom crew.

    Your getting boring

    • Leazes Ender

      There might be a reason for it, its just a possibility.

  • Leazes Ender

    chronic negativity?

    Run it up a flagpole and Ryder salutes it…..