The cold war between Mike Ashley and Rafa Benitez has dominated much/most of the headlines in the past week.
The owner’s Sky Sports ‘interview’ ensured that was the case in the lead up to the Tottenham game and nothing much has changed in the intervening time, with only bargain buy £5m Joselu arriving to help give Rafa a little more depth up front.
The overwhelming reaction of most Newcastle fans is to support Rafa Benitez and call on the club’s owner to show more backing for his manager.
However, some of the media and even a small number of supporters see the Spaniard as sharing some of the blame for the failure to significantly strengthen the squad.
Everybody acknowledges that Newcastle have a lot of unwanted players that need to shift, to improve the finances via transfer fees and saved wages, as well as creating space for new signings and the money to help pay for them.
Some people have claimed that Rafa’s transfer activity last summer has played a significant part in the number of unwanted players but I don’t think this stacks up when you look at the actual facts.
Last summer 12 players were signed and I make it 12 also permanently left, as well as a fair few (de Jong, Krul, Riviere etc) out on loan.
Going out, Rafa shifted Obertan, Doumbia, Marveaux, Coloccini, Steven Taylor, Cabella, Janmaat, Wijnaldum, Townsend, Cisse, Bigirimana and Sissoko.
Coming in we had Gayle, Ritchie, Hayden, Yedlin, Sels, Hanley, (Daryl) Murphy, Atsu, Gamez, Clark, Diame and Lazaar.
In April, the club revealed that Rafa’s transfer activity had generated a £40m profit, plus Cheick Tiote also left the club in February.
Everybody pretty much declared that Benitez had done great business, making wholesale changes as he was forced by the rats leaving the sinking ship, turning it around into title winning promotion AND that £40m profit. It was accepted that he had had to build a team/squad for promotion and then would need to do a similar job to create a Premier League one.
As well as getting promotion at the first attempt, I think last summer’s signings stand up really well as also having given real value for money for the Premier League.
Daryl Murphy has been sold and Matz Sels sent out on loan and then we have Gayle, Ritchie, Hayden, Atsu and Clark who all started against Spurs as first teamers.
Yedlin would have also started if not injured, whilst Diame was injured and could potentially have started as well as he continues to compete with Perez for a place in the team.
Diame is at least a first 18 player, whilst Gamez is a squad player and gives cover across the back.
Of Rafa’s signings who are of no use, you only have Lazaar and Hanley who the manager is desperate to shift of his 12 signings last summer.
When you look at the list of pre-Rafa signings who are proving impossible to shift, it is a whole different level.
Amongst the many, you have Riviere, Krul, Mitrovic, Haidara, Colback, Saivet, de Jong, Darlow and Good.
It seems to me that the two major reasons for this lot not finding new clubs yet, will be a combination of Ashley and his people demanding too high a return, as well as the players themselves being unwilling to compromise on wages in order to get first team football elsewhere.
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