Garth Crooks was full of it after Newcastle went sixth in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon.

The Magpies defeating Crystal Palace with an 86th minute winner from Mikel Merino.

Not the greatest game to watch but a great result that pushed Newcastle up to those dizzy heights.

Nobody claiming Newcastle United are the finished article but Rafa Benitez is working miracles with meagre resources, no signings allowed last January and then only an £11.5m net spend this summer.

Garth Crooks thinks the sky is the limit for Rafa Benitez and NUFC if the United boss is given ‘the right resources’.

The BBC pundit describes Newcastle as a ‘huge club’ and believes ‘Rafa Benitez has the pedigree to do something quite special’.

As to what that ‘special’ thing could be, Garth Crooks insists that he rates Rafa so highly, he believes Newcastle could even win the Premier League if the manager is properly backed.

Garth Crooks talking on the BBC:

“I think the Newcastle fans think that Rafa Benitez deserves the resources to take them where the fans want to be.

“Which could be a top six side.

“I mean it is a huge club and Rafa Benitez has the pedigree to do something quite special.

“So I think there is no doubt for me, he is a top class manager and they (Newcastle) are lucky to have him.

“I think he is capable….I mean with Keegan they didn’t win anything with Newcastle – but he flirted with the title.

“Rafa can win it (Premier League) with the right resources there, I think that highly of him.

“Can win the title (at Newcastle) with the right resources.”

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 1 Crystal Palace 0


Newcastle: Merino 86

Possession was Palace 45% Newcastle 55%

Total shots were  Palace 10 Newcastle 7

Shots on target were Palace 0 Newcastle 3

Corners were  Palace 5 Newcastle 3

Referee: Stuart Attwell

Newcastle United:

Elliot, Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Manquillo, Ritchie, Shelvey, Hayden (Merino 56), Atsu, Perez (Diame 66), Joselu (Mitrovic 78)

Unused Subs:

Darlow, Clark, Gamez, Murphy

Crowd: 52,251

(Read instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to the Palace match HERE)

(Alan Shearer reacts to win over Palace HERE)

(Amusing Roy Hodgson hard luck story after final whistle HERE)

(To view our interactive NUFC player ratings and to add your own marks out of 10 go HERE)

  • Dave Knight

    Rafa is indeed a quality manager, and Newcastle are lucky to have him – especially with Fat Mike in charge of things (for now). However talk of title winning? A bit (lot) premature. We’ve been down this road before of being accused of expecting glory and trophies. Right now, I’m just happy to see a team on the pitch putting in effort, and a manager who’s getting the best out of them. If you do this week in and week out, the rest will sort itself out.

    • StevieB

      Totally agree. We’ve had better squads with far less effort levels . It’s crazy to see how well he’s got it going at the minute . Really shows Pardew n that for what they really are. You can’t put a price on a top 4 manager

    • Toonrobbybobson

      Completely agree but nice to dream. People take that as expectations down South as they dont understand a thing called optimism. We up here buy into a thing called momentum and collective power. When the toon are all on the same page its a beautiful thing. Its like the tanker has slowly turned around in the right direction.

  • Scott wood

    And they call us newcastle fans delusional

  • Lofty

    Rafa is making a silk purse out of a pigs ear in terms of results against budget. So the thought of even slightly adventurous backing gives me goosebumps. I’ll make do with a League Cup mind Garth 😁

  • Peter

    Some might say this is a little premature, but it is refreshing to see a pundit understanding what we can be,,,

    • Jezza

      Garth Crooks is one of the few pundits I’ve got any time for. When you look at what Rafa is doing with a squad we all considered to be relegation fodder at the start of the season the mind boggles at what he could achieve with proper backing.

      • Coach Clagnut

        Not all of us considered we’d be relegation fodder prior to kick off Jezza. I was pretty happy the way the squad was shaping up and said as much on here.

        • Damon Horner

          With you on that, this squad won’t get the credit it deserves unless is starts blazing a trail. Even Rafa himself is more about incisive efficiency rather than domination.

      • Monkseaton Magpies

        Only you Jezza and the Leazes End bloke had us down for relegation my prediction is eighth this might be hard for people to take but it’s going to happen. Sorry to you all not going down this season.

        • Wor Lass

          I think there was a lot more than that, mate.

        • Leazes Ender

          Fifteenth actually.

      • Toonrobbybobson

        This squad is way way better than many give it credit for and its had a year of being drilled by Rafa. Great thing now is any player that comes in has to buy into the squads work and team ethic. Its easier to teach that as a squad to a player when all in harmony.

      • Oooh bobbi fleckman

        Not all of us, some even put their money where their mouth was

        • Jezza

          I made that donation to your charity as promised. What more do you want?

      • Oooh bobbi fleckman

        You need time to listen to Garth Crooks, he takes ages to complete simple sentences

        • Jezza

          Yes and you take ages to write utter non sensical tripe.

  • TheFatController

    Tomorrow: Rafa can win the champions league with Newcastle.
    A joint statement from Paul Merson, Danny Murphy, Michael Owen and David Prrutton

    • Peaky Magpie

      No Lawrenson I see 😁

      • TheFatController

        In his predictions for Burnley, Lawro goes for a Newcastle defeat. Some things cannot be changed, such is their force of nature …

        • StevieB

          I’d take a hard fought draw at Burnley now as well 👌

          • Toonrobbybobson

            Could be distractions as Dyche is linked with the Foxes

  • Stephen Paylor

    if Rafa can find a few more Mikel Merino’s on the cheap then who knows. Need a top level number 3, 9 and 10 and we will be able to give anyone a game.

    • Stephen Paylor

      and maybe an upgrade on Atsu if possible

      • Toonrobbybobson

        Atsu will come good. Hes still learning hes not had much game time in his pro career at this level and never been settled. Hes got something.

    • StevieB

      Pepe Reina would look beautiful behind that nice tight back 4 also in my opinion 👍

      • Toonrobbybobson

        Completely completely agree. He could give a few more years yet and add even more leadership at the back. He’ll make men out of those youngsters.

  • StevieB

    Also I’m almost certain now that Rafa knew this takeover was imminent when the August window slammed shut . He’s notorious for displaying his anger when things don’t go his way , he chucked an absolute mental when they wouldn’t get him Townsend in January after the QPR game yet after August he just smiled and said “ I’ll just carry on with what I have” …….he knew Ashley was going then or he’d have been away I believe

    • Toonrobbybobson

      Ive always maintained that Rafa would see off Ashley. I even believe that there has been buyers sniffing but that once it looked more likely he actually got in tocuh with Staveley to sell her a vision for the Toon.

  • steve pearce

    I believe that the reason why Rafa wasn’t given the millions we expected in the summer was because the fat stinking bag of southern pus had decided to put us up for sale and indeed had had preliminary talks with Amanda Staveley’s representatives. Rafa was in on this and knew he had a good enough squad to survive and indeed prosper until Christmas when we would be in the hands of new owners. Deals like this have most of the ground work done before they are announced publicly and she was present at an away and a home game to see us in action and see the huge support we give Rafa and our team. So with enough funds in January to buy the key players we lack I too can see no reason why we can’t finish 4th and qualify for the Champions League where Rafa is certainly no stranger!

    • Toonrobbybobson

      It was obvious at turn of year when Rafa wasnt backed.

      Lets be honest it is beyond us for top 4 even if backed this year. However funnier things have happened. Im not saying its likely but say we are around where we are come January with a takeover and injected funds for Rafa he could potentially ride momentum which is so important in this league and pull off a monumental shock then that incestor will reap the rewards.

      But alas plenty water to go under the bridge and highly hughly unlikely.

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    Think Man City have the title nailed on but no reason why we can not finish in the top eight or even higher if we buy a top striker in January.

    • Steven05

      I’m sure the all knowing experts of the media will label me (us) as delusional, but if Leicester can win the title then Rafa’s United can not only survive (which would upset most of the media/experts) but also achieve a top 8 – 6 finish. Why not?

      I said before the season started I’d be happy to survive, but predicted a 10th place finish. But we have a manager which I still can’t believe we have, a very likeable group of players who are putting the effort in, and hopefully some backing from the the top to come

      Call me delusional, but I’m emotionally happy that (at the minute) we have hope

      Kevin Keegan said something along the lines of: People will say you can’t do that, and I say, I think you can’

      We have Rafa, we have a group of players who are putting the effort in, and we have the (dream) possibility of decent owners/backers on the horrizan

      Best feeling I’ve had as a Newcastle fan since Bobby Robson

      (and yes, we deserve some success, delusional or fact, we deserve it)

  • Peaky Magpie

    Give ower man Garth.Dementia.

  • Soldier

    I think Crooks is getting a bit carried away unless any potential buyer wants to invest £150 to £200m on players.
    I drive 90 miles up for every home game & yesterday`s match was the worst i`ve seen in a long time, but we got the 3 points and that`s all that matters.

    • steve

      Try 500 million to catch up with City.

      • GToon

        Why not. Unlike them who will be losing money by investing that much we cud be making money on that kind of investment with the right commercial plan, merchandising etc etc. a successful Newcastle United has no limits.

  • Paul Patterson

    Let’s all calm down. No wonder the southern media think we’re deluded.
    Crooks is a clown for these sort of comments.

  • steve

    Rafa’s style is suited to where we are right now, well organised and hope to steal something. It isn’t suited for a push for the title, “given the right resources”, I’m not sure he’d be capable of producing a team to take it to the opposition.

    • Chris J

      Errrrrm no

      • steve

        There’s a common theme there, they’re all cups, Valencia aside his performances in the league have been poor especially when his team is the favourite, that’s why he flopped at Inter and Real.

        • Chris J

          Facts are facts mate. Inter 2 cups and real well he lost 3 games total

          • steve

            And the fact is he hasn’t won a top flight league title since 2004 despite managing a number of contenders and favourites never mind Newcastle United.

  • hetonmag

    For years we haven’t had a defence that we could rely on but slowly but surely Rafa is putting his stamp on that part of the team all he wants is a GK and a LB and we will be hard to beat, and the rest will follow given the right investment.

  • steve pearce

    How can you say Garth Crooks is delusional?

    He sees the way Rafa has got us organised and our passing, strategy and belief is the best it has ever been in my opinion. With the Amanda Staveley sale becoming increasingly more likely and the funds to buy the quality striker we desperately need there’s no reason why we can’t get into the Champions League. I think those doubters should have some belief in our manager and his team as this OUR time and it has been a long hard road but the end is now in sight.

    Toon Toon Rafa’s Black And White Army!

    • steve

      There’s having belief then there’s utterly ridiculous comments. Looking at the top half is having belief in the manager.

  • Mirandinha9

    …and because so many of us accord with Crooks’ viewpoint that we could challenge at the higher echelons of the Premier League, Cashley simply has to go. The club has the ability to get there given the right financial investment. However, if you’re devoid of any ambition, like Cashley, then you’ll experience events such as successive relegations and be beaten off 5under1and six times on the trot.

  • GToon

    I dunno if he’s right but I think for me it’s the untapped potential of our club that is most exciting. Imagine if we did get a new 75k stadium, a new training facility to rival man city and a team that befits our manager. Imagine that! Wow. We nearly got there with KK but maybe this time.

    • gallowgate26

      I’m happy with the stadium we have, it’s an amazing stadium and probably the best in the country, city-centre location wise. It is just about selling out which suggests that it’s the right size for us. I’d rather sit in a full stadium than one with 15,000 empty seats. Investing in a new stadium is also money that could be invested in the squad, something that held back Arsenal for many years.

  • GToon

    Yeah Crooks might be talking rubbish etc etc but hey folks isn’t that the return of that big four lettered word again? HOPE!!!!!!!😀😀😀😀😀

  • Leazes Ender


  • gallowgate26

    With new owners and the right investment, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be frightening 4th place hopefuls like Arsenal & Liverpool. The title has been bought by the Manchester clubs and Chelsea long ago.

  • Guru

    Crooks has a point-but I reckon Man City could push us all the way this season…

  • MadMag83

    There’s a long way to go to catch the likes of Citeh. Rafa needs backing in January otherwise this current run of form could be cut short with a few injuries. A number ten and a striker are a priority.