Newcastle United fans, and everybody else who cares about our great but mad club, need to stick together like never before.

When it comes to uncertainty, Newcastle have become specialists at it under Mike Ashley.

Living from one season to the next, trying to stay in the Premier League on the minimum spend possible.

The odd high spots then seeing Mike Ashley’s minions claiming it was all part of a ‘five year plan’, though they then failed to ever explain where two relegations fitted into their supposed long-term strategies.

With his October announcement, it appeared/appears that even Ashley realises the game is up, that the chaotic and manipulative way he runs the football club, ensures that disaster is always potentially just around the corner once again.

The momentum gained from being promoted and last day second tier champions was expected to be built on with realistic transfer cash available for Rafa Bentez to tackle stage two of the rebuild.

It wasn’t.

Instead, the Newcastle manager watched both Huddersfield and Brighton have a net spend of over £40m each in the summer as they tried to do everything they could to guard against instant relegation back to the Championship.

As for Rafa Benitez, he found the early summer transfer moves for key targets blocked by the Ashley regime, then despite repeated requests/warnings for the club’s owner to honour his transfer window promises, the manager was left totally undermined and exposed – having to look for bargains to shore up his squad.

Instead of the new better quality first choice goalkeeper, left-back, number 10 and centre-forward, there were budget buys for the likes of utility defender Manquillo at £3.5m and unwanted Stoke reserve striker, £5m Joselu.

Rafa Benitez drained every last drop of potential from his quality lacking squad when putting early points on the board this season but now the lack of investment is showing through.

Even just a few injuries have left the squad/team looking badly exposed.

As well as very average bargain priced squad members who arrived in the summer, Rafa Benitez has also had to rely on players who weren’t even guaranteed a game every week in the Championship, the likes of Perez, Diame, Hayden and Atsu all left having to be relied upon.

In any performance that goes wrong, the manager and players have to take their share of responsibility and especially when that is part of four defeats on the bounce.

However, it is vital to remember that there is only one real villain of the peace and it isn’t Mohamed Diame.

If you wanted to create a template for how to try and shoot yourself in the foot in Premier League football, then Mike Ashley has done exactly that.

Despite a £40m transfer surplus under Rafa Benitez in summer 2016, Mike Ashley refused to allow the manager any signings in January, which could have helped ensure promotion and more importantly brought in players who could be settled in for the Premier League campaign that beckoned. Kevin Keegan did this brilliantly when signing the likes of Andy Cole and Scott Sellars during the 1992/93 promotion season.

That failure to back Rafa in January has then been compounded by only an £11.5m transfer net spend this summer.

On top of that, Mike Ashley chose to undermine and make Rafa’s job even tougher, by creating unrest with his infamous Sky Sports interview that he timed to go out on the first weekend of the season.

Then in October we saw the club officially go up for sale, making you question why would any Premier League club owner do this, instead of in the summer with minimum disruption to what happens on the football side of things.

Yes Rafa Benitez might have picked different tactics on Saturday and maybe selected different players in some positions but just like at Old Trafford a week earlier, it would simply have been a case of swapping deckchairs on the Titanic.

A bit like the boring England selection debate, there are no brilliant options being overlooked for Newcastle United.

Ayoze Perez has offered next to nothing going forward this season and as for the likes of Mitrovic and Aarons, well the United boss watches them in training every day and obviously doesn’t see what some of his armchair critics/doubters see.

Bottom line is that Newcastle United will only have a better team when they sign better players, to go with the small base of decent quality ones already at the club, including one or two likes Lascelles and Merino who couldn’t start yesterday or at Old Trafford.

Both Lukaku and Pogba cost more than the entire Newcastle side they faced last week, Rafa and the fans didn’t expect those type of signings.

However, yesterday Watford had £30m front pair Gray and Richarlison running rings around Newcastle’s defence and that kind of spending could and should have been allowed this summer. A couple of decent signings up front could have papered over a lot of cracks this season at St James Park.

So, this is a time to grin and bear it and stick together with both manager and players.

The day can’t come soon enough when Mike Ashley leaves this football club.

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  • Paul Patterson

    Fully agree on the sentiments, but sticking with Joselu when our TOP Premier League goal scorer is on the bench and the former is CONTINUOUSLY underperforming (and looking worse by the week by the way) is wasting everyones time.

    • Leazes Ender

      MOTD saved Joselu blushes by reducing the game to five minutes…. this is a deliberate attempt by them to protect this no footed clod hopper who can’t trap a ball or kick a ball …. he’ll be there for the next game as well.

      He makes Shola Ameobi look like a footballer.

      • GToon

        You know the funny thing is through my sons academy connections i heard that, at Stoke, Joselu was an amazing finisher in training! One of their young keepers told me he was the best they had at Stoke – either foot, any angle, hits the target every time. Now look at him!!

    • 1957

      Hoss apparently trains well so he deserves more chances…Benitez logic, not mine.

  • Leazes Ender

    If only the club was actually a club with each member a shareholder.

    • GToon

      I’ve still got my share certificate. I refused to send it back when that scumbag took over!

  • JulioLaker

    Can’t blame the effect for the cause … the cause being Ashley! All the moaners were calling for Perez to be dropped … well that worked out pretty well didn’t it!

  • Leicester Mag

    Rafa’s tactics at times are baffling and playing the Hos while floundering smacks of stubbornness. At the end of the day though it’s like blaming the deck attendant for the deck chairs while the fat chancer in charge steers the club at self created icebergs year on year. Stay united AGREED but if the takeover fails unite behind the push to rid the club of this poison

    • Leazes Ender

      There’s nowt baffling about a ‘bus’… its big and it sits there, Rafa will do it until he gets some actual footballers in.

      Watford would be a joy to watch if you are a Watford fan, they attacked with pace down the wings and put the ball into the net…. oh joy!

      • Leicester Mag

        Trouble is the bus now can’t move forward and is letting in water. Agree we can argue Jos vs Mitro when the real argument is why the eff is this the best we have?

        • Leazes Ender

          Joselu’s struggling to live up to his 5 million price tag

          Thank you for that one @gazconaz_gary

  • Peter Stabler

    Fatty is running an experiment here – can a world class manager keep a championship team in the Premier League? Trying to take moneyball to the next step. Mike, it doesn’t look like it’s gonna work right now, we need West Ham Stoke and Swansea to be stihe.

  • Rob Brown

    So when you say “Newcastle United fans, and everybody else who cares about our great but mad club, need to stick together like never before.”, do you mean we should ALL slag off the team like you did?

    So how long will it take fans to get bored with Rafa’s bus like they did with McClaren’s stroller, Pardews pram and the numerous others who achieved little or nothing before him?

    Yes we leak goals like the titanic leaked water, but it’s odd that we continue with zone marking when our players aren’t up to it. The goals we are leaking make us look as if we have no idea what we are doing.

    Sticking with the same format up front is also a bit of a puzzler.

    At least try something else FFS!

  • Mike Adam

    Ok but what could he possibly be seeing in Horselu, Manquillo, and SloMo in training??? They are so strong in training that it isn’t even worth giving the likes of Mitro, Aarons, Mbemba, and a few others a chance to start in matches??? The training excuse is as bad an excuse as the trust excuse!!! When players do absolutely nothing game after game after game what manager in their right mind would not give other players at there disposal a chance??? NONE!!!

    • GToon

      It’s worth remembering the comment Keegan made about Shearer in training where he said he didn’t stand out but come Match day you realized why he was worth £15m. As an aside I knew somebody who worked with the club around that time and the best trainer and fittest player was Warren Barton. He used to test the players and analyze their fitness levels. Generally the more skillful players were less fit.

      • Paul Patterson

        You know what that’s funny, I’ve just skimmed through his autobiography to find that quote and couldn’t. I’m sure it’s in print somewhere and very true. Some players will do the business in training, but on a match day will go to pieces.

        • GToon

          He said it in an interview I think.

  • John Marshall

    rafa must get over his dislike of mbemba and mitro as both are much better than some on show game on game.on another topic I am getting debenham advert covering most of my newsnow page and I can’t see any way of getting rid of it i.e, no crosses or anything. anybody have any ideas?

  • TheFatController

    Let’s look at a few positives, we have Merino back to strengthen MF, Lascelles and Dummett to come in and help stabilise the defensive frailties, Gayle and Mitro fit, and Murphy showed promise.

    Also, somewhere between PCP increasing their offer (or another bidder being in the frame where the bid hasn’t been leaked) and Ashley resigning himself to the fact that his ‘up for sale’ promotion (thanks Sky) hasn’t borne the fruit he was expecting (£380m) we should go into Jan with a fair budget and the ability to make proactive negotiations with other clubs / agents thanks to new owners.

    Let’s back the team and see where we are end of Jan, then we can decide if it’s time for recriminations …

    • Jezza

      I’ll tell you exactly where we’ll be at the end of January. Bottom of the league, Fatso still here and no new signings.

      • TheFatController

        I don’t know now, ordinarily I’d agree. But I think it’s so public a sale now he would prefer to lose some face by selling below his hopes, than fail at selling and look a complete fool with Rafa walking etc

        He can’t be the only man on ‘the planet Newcastle United’ not aware that his time is well and truly up …? He must be as hacked off as we are now, especially with the lack of bids for the club.

        Surely he’d wake up the day after a sale and no matter what the price think ‘thank God that’s out of my life ..’

    • LA Toon

      I can see PCP sitting back until we are relegated and offering 100 million as the only thing going for the club is a great fan base and a stadium as the team isn’t worth much. They might have approached Rafa to secure his services and outline the investment plans to return to the premiership. I would.

  • 1957

    Benitez may not like what he sees day on day from Mitrovic and Aaron’s, but tell me what can he possibly see in Hoss to justify playing him week in week out. We actually don’t know if either of them might make a difference on a matchday because Benitez won’t give them a start. Although if Mitrovic did start and play well it would make it harder for Benitez to justify getting rid of him to bring in another journeyman to replace him

    From my plastic armchair on level 7 I am within my rights to have doubts about the way Benitez is approaching his job, Ashley has run the club into the ground but the manager shouldn’t be free from criticism.

    • GToon

      Mitro comes on when the game is lost nearly every time. That’s not gonna do him any favours is it.

  • GToon

    This is the time that instead of sticking together and “trying harder” Rafa needs to go back to the drawing board and try something totally different like that bloke did yesterday. Why not play 4-3-3. Why not try Aarons, Gayle and Richie as a front 3. Why not play a back 4 of Clarke, Mbemba, Laschelles and Gamez. Why not play Colback. Put him in front of the back four. Is he worse than Diame? A midfield of Hayden, Shelvey, Merino and Colback. I’m no expert but I know the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. I would play Gayle right up front with the simple expectation that he is fed the ball in the box and shoots. The bottom line is that something needs to change. We haven’t got the personnel at the moment but I still don’t think we are making the best use of our resources. Sometimes a change can inspire players like yedlin for example who is having a bad run playing in defence but might feel the weight off his shoulders if we played 3-5-2.

    • Paul Patterson

      Ordinarily I’d disagree with you, but when it blatantly isn’t working a change is desperately needed.

    • Albert Stubbins

      Well said but Colback? Never.

  • Jezza

    Excellent article.

    • Monkseaton Magpies

      Ashley was not to blame for yesterday only one man Rafa .
      Even Pardew brought subs on when we were two or three nil down.
      Rafa waited till the game was well over before making a change and when he brought Mitro on brought a winger off to make sure he did not get the supply his country gives him to score goals. Mbemba should have started in mid field as excellent player plus Arrons to cross for Mitro there is no time for Rafa to make political statements to the board every point is vital it was if like he wanted us to lose the match no changes till seven minutes afer we were three nil down even Pardew was not that bad.

    • Monkseaton Magpies

      Plus we spent forty seven million so how is it an excellent article when it says if only we were allowed to spend thirty million we did plus seventeen million more a hopeless article just like Shearer saying we should have got beat six nil when it was twelve shots each.

  • Albert Stubbins

    We’d have saved eight and a half million by keeping well away from Josselyn and manaquin,that’s my new name for him as he’s like a shop front inanimate object. May as well have a traffic cone at full back. Marcelino has more courage!! Money thrown away. May as well have burned it on the bonfire!!

    • Mike Adam

      They are both useless Albert, so why does Rafa keep strating them?

      • Albert Stubbins

        A combination of stubbornness and knowing that the alternative is just as bad probably. In saying that he has played four four two last two home games and I honestly believe that mitro in this formation would pose slightly more of a threat as imo he’s better in the air than hosselu. In saying that a pet monkey is also better in the air than hosselu.

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    Why not play Aarons the excellent mbemba who has not put a foot wrong this season and has been rated in the top three when he has played this season.
    Rafa has had forty seven million to spend not great but more than Burnley Huddersfield and Brighton . It’s not Ashley’ s fault he started with three players who are not up to it when he had three better players on the bench. Even when we were three nil down he would not change it. Pardew was the worst manager making subs till Rafa came along it was if he wanted us to get beat to make a statement to to Ashley or the new owners that we are not good enough.
    Yes that may be his intention but paying customers do not deserve his politics.

    • Albert Stubbins

      It wasn’t making a statement. No manager in his right mind puts poor players on to make a point. Rafa has a lot of bang average players with one or two decent ones mixed in. If the decent ones don’t perform at their peak then we get turned over simple as that. If Ritchie , lascelles,merino and shelvey arnt at it then we’re stuffed. Rafa knows it,the opposition know it and half the fans watching it know it!!

      • Monkseaton Magpies

        Well why did the manager not play his best team why did the manager not make a change at half time why did the manager not make a change when the third goal went in. The answer is he was making a statement and when he put mitro on took off the winger
        so he would not score amazing tactics could not believe it.
        Everyone knows Arrons, Mitro and Mbemba are better than what we have on the pitch.

        • Albert Stubbins

          I suppose you think the world is flat as well. He makes changes when he sees fit not how you would run the team FFS. Yes he got it badly wrong yesterday but to suggest he was doing it on purpose. Who benefits from that exactly? Ridiculous statement.

        • anyobrien

          Arrons has been constantly injured all the time he’s been here so how can you judge him as being better, mitro I’d play mbemba I’m not so sure fatty should if bought a left back and a striker at least.

        • Paul Patterson

          Making a statement? To who? And why? Transfer window is shut. It’s not like it’s going to force a signing through any quicker..

      • Mike Adam

        Huddersfield, Brighton, and Burnley have the same type of players but are doing quite well. Did you see the Huddersfield effort today against ManCity? I agree, no manager would do it on purpose. So, that being said, he needs to stop being stubborn or whatever he is doing and give others the chance they absolutely deserve!

        • Geordiegiants

          He doesn’t see them giving what he wants in training Man, FFS!!!!!!!!!!! Honestly you lot make me want to f ucking scream. Do you think he has won what he has listening to fans giving there opinion??????

          • Mike Adam

            Blind faith man! So you have never questioned anything that Rafa has done? How about any other NUFC manager? He certainly doesn’t listen, I wouldn’t expect him to! It is discussion and opinion that fans have the right to voice, even if their opinions are not the same as yours and Rafa’s. Live with it!!! I respect your opinion and I don’t call you names.

          • anyobrien

            What’s your answers Mike?
            Come on enlighten us… Rafa is not doing it the way you like it so who do you want?

          • Mike Adam

            I am not enlightening anyone, I am simply giving my opinion. I have never said that I want a different manager, I have simply said that Rafa has no reason not to give other players a chance because, obviously some of the one’s he is starting are not performing and a few never have!

    • Mike Adam

      He definately seems to be reluctant to make changes! Even a half is too much to give Horselu! When you see he is sh*te through the first half, why not make a change! Why Rafa?

  • anyobrien

    Reading some of the comments on here it sounds like people wanting rafa out…?
    Are we serious here ffs we’ve lost four games in a row yes but there are another 26 to go.
    Rafa I believe us the best man for the job he had a list of players he wanted and got none we shopped in bargain basement and we are reaping the benefits of that….I’m surprised he’s still here the way he was treated by our tin pot owner was a disgrace and embarrassing to say the least when he goes.
    Who the hell would replace rafa?

    • Mike Adam

      Not sure anyone is saying that, but his not using all of the players at his disposal is quite puzzling. Also he continues to start players who are not doing and never have done the job, when he has other players he seems unwilling to give a chance!!!

      • Geordiegiants

        Because he see’s them every day, he see’s their attitudes and application, FFS, if he thought they could do ok he would f ucking play them man. He knows what he is doing, he has proven it time and time again, and still nuggets on here think they know better.

        • Mike Adam

          Obviously when it comes to Horselu and Manquillo he does not!!! Mitro and Mbemba are better. I do not care what he see’s in practice, when it comes to playing Horselu, Manquillo, and SloMo he is wrong, dead wrong! The results from their play prove it. You can call me a nugget or anything you want, but you and Rafa have nothing to stand on, especially when it comes to Horselu, 35 goals in 8 seasons! What do you think is going to happen all of a sudden? Oh yeah, absolutely nothing! I honestly do not know how you or anyone can defend the continued playing of the useless Horselu.

          • anyobrien

            So rafa will not change what do you want?… I hear pullis is free ffs…. No wonder other fans hate us.

          • Mike Adam

            Are you honestly telling me you want to see Horselu continue as the starting striker??? “No wonder other fans hate us”, for having opinions, really? You have never questioned any decisions by any NUFC managers, or just Rafa?

          • anyobrien

            Question the managers constantly all the time. I’m saying in the current situation I’m happy with rafa and I’m sure he will change when he thinks it’s righ like he did the formation … We don’t see them in training and there attitude. Plus he has been shafted in the transfer market.

    • Geordiegiants

      I swear, half of the muppets on here are f ucking imbreds like. Do they not realise Rafa has done it time and time again, and still they have to question him.

  • hetonmag

    Great article Jim at last someone putting some sanity back into the current situation, this regime has ran this club on shoestring from day one, how many times has 5 year plan’s been mentioned. Rafa’s been around the block a few times the situation here will be hurting him that’s for sure he has his work cut out after year’s of total neglect.