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Opinion

About time Mike Ashley, Rafa Benitez & Lee Charnley sat down together?

1 year ago
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With 31st August rapidly approaching, it’s a good time to take a look at the Newcastle United transfer activity to date.

At first glance, we have signed 6 players at a reported cost of around £38 million with (as I type) a report emerging of an alleged bid of around £13 million accepted for Dennis Praet, so everything’s ok, right?

Maybe not..

Rafa said after pre-season discussions with Mike Ashley:

“Mike  told me ‘We have this money, it is available, it’s OK’, so, fine, we were happy with that. Mike said the budget is mine and I can do what I want with the numbers he has given me. It is the same with wages.”

So, a budget has been shown to Rafa and he was “happy with that” and the future was looking bright, we could move onto the next level with Rafa given control of who comes and goes. We’ve been busy in the transfer market but why all the discontent?

After Sunday’s game Rafa didn’t even try to hide his emotions following United’s second-successive defeat, stating the momentum gained from promotion was lost “a long time ago”.

The budget has been provided, so is it still the figures Mike Ashley put on the table during that meeting or has it been trimmed to cater for Ashley’s plan to make the club ‘self-sufficient’. The promise was that Rafa and Charnley “can have every last penny that the club generates through promotion, player sales and other means” but what does that mean?

Ashley is operating an ‘actuals’ not ‘projected’ financial plan, so he will only make available what has been made (not what we WILL get from the Premiership TV deal in the future). So money made through promotion equates to £7.2 million from promotion and TV appearances while in the Championship (ED: As well as £41m parachute payments) and due to the high wages commanded by players surplus to Rafa’s requirements we can’t sell them. Even if we did, the first instalment would only be available in this window. Slim pickings, yet we’ve spent £38 million which could have financed two, maybe three, proven Premiership players, so what’s the reason for Rafa’s discontent?

He now states:

“When I decided to stay I was expecting another thing. Now we are where we are. We missed some targets at the beginning and we are paying for that, but hopefully we can find some solutions.”

That hardly says things are going the way he was expecting. The players brought in haven’t vastly improved the team that won the Championship, so his quotes lead me to suspect the players he wanted haven’t been brought in. Given our need for a striker who is capable of scoring in the Premiership, I doubt Joselu at £5 million would be his first choice (it’s glaringly obvious we need a prolific striker or we are in big trouble), and Manquillo, who’s last three moves were loan deals, would not be first choice for a right back. It makes me wonder how the squad would look if Rafa got the players he wanted?

If we believe he has been given control over players in and out, and Charnley is responsible for transfer negotiations (once Rafa passes the list to Charnley that is his last involvement until Charnley reports back to Rafa that a deal has been done), I can only assume that the list of first choice players Rafa gave to him has not been acquired.

When Mike Ashley decided the size of the transfer kitty he couldn’t have known the market would go crazy, once this became evident he should have amended the budget if it wasn’t enough. Eight of our early games are scheduled to be televised which brings in another £8million, this could be made available to Rafa now but could it be the way the money is being spent is the real problem? £38 million spent and Rafa states he is unhappy with transfer activity, for which Charnley has complete control, in terms of getting the player deals done. Has Charnley delivered in terms of getting Rafa’s choice of players over the line?

The one thing Ashley has done right for the club was to secure the services of Rafa and following positive discussions, he stayed on. Now however, instead of stability, there’s a bun fight between the two, the likes of which I have never seen, with Ashley even coming out in an interview to put over his side of the story.

I know we can’t compete with Man City but a club this size should be able to compete with the other teams who came up with us. It’s a situation which needs to be resolved before the inevitable happens and Rafa walks away.

I understand the self-sufficient stance but Ashley needs to understand it’s a result driven business and lack of support at this stage will end up with a squad not fit for purpose and the risk of losing both our Premiership status and the manager, which could completely ruin the club.

If the budget is not the problem, and the way it is being spent is, it’s about time the three of them sit down and sort it out before it is too late.

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

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