Rafa Benitez confused Newcastle fans a year ago, when he made a new goalkeeper his first priority.
Matz Sels recruited from Belgium and assured of starting the season as number one.
With Karl Darlow performing well once replacing the disappointing Sels, then Rob Elliot back to fitness and playing the last three Championship matches, plus potentially Tim Krul once again competing after a year on loan to get fitness and form, a goalkeeper surely wasn’t foremost in Rafa’s mind this summer?
However, once the transfer speculation season really got going, Newcastle were instantly linked with a series of experienced keepers to come in as the new number one.
Pepe Reina heavily linked, then Rafa Benitez said to be desperately disappointed when Newcastle failed to land Will Caballero after his release from Manchester City – a number of other goalkeepers then also linked.
Newcastle supporters had waited all summer for the United boss to give some insight on his thoughts regarding the transfer market and he couldn’t really have been more open once he opened up in recent days.
Happy to go all out and remind Mike Ashley that he had better keep the promises made on transfer budget and freedom for Rafa to spend it as he sees fit, the manager has also simply spelt out what is happening with the goalkeeping situation.
He wants Rob Elliot to stay and a new goalkeeper to come in (and surely be number one with Elliot as back up), although Rafa has to phrase it as the two goalkeepers fighting it out for the number one shirt.
It had already been made clear that Karl Darlow was up for sale, with Middlesbrough just one of the clubs keen on signing him, whilst Tim Krul left at home with Emmanuel Riviere instead of going on the pre-season training camp, couldn’t be any more of a stark message as to the Dutchman’s place (or not!) in the scheme of things.
The reality is that Karl Darlow isn’t a Premier League keeper, as just like Vurnon Anita, the pair of them are only of interest to second tier clubs. Meanwhile, Tim Krul had an outstanding 2011/12 season (like so many other Newcastle players) but in the next five years he has never shown anything like the same standard, apart from odd games.
As for Rob Elliot he has reached the age of 31 and has made only 35 Premier League starts (in only five of those 35 matches has he kept a clean sheet), most of them coming in the 2015/16 relegation season. He may be an ok number two but it is obvious, certainly to Rafa Benitez, that the club is desperately in need of a better quality goalkeeper than Newcastle currently have. With the possible exception of 20 year old Freddie Woodman, though it will take a little more time and experience before he can potentially compete.
“Hopefully we can bring in a new goalkeeper and this competition will be good for the team.
“The main thing for Rob Elliot is to be fit, he is training hard after playing the final three games of last season.
“He is a good goalkeeper but I want him to compete.
“You can’t have players that think this is easy because they are the only one in that position.”
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