Rafa Benitez has laid bare the problems he faced this summer.
The past seven days have seen Newcastle lose to both Burnley & Bournemouth and the United boss says he couldn’t even compete with those clubs for transfers in the summer.
Burnley finished only one place above the relegation zone and Bournemouth were/are expected to be relegation strugglers this season, yet both clubs smashed their record transfer fees.
Bournemouth paid £20m for Nathan Ake, over £10m for keeper Begovic, plus a massive commitment on wages for ‘free’ transfer Jermain Defoe, meanwhile Burnley paid over £15m for striker Chris Wood.
Elsewhere, as is the trend with promoted clubs these days, the owners of both Brighton and Huddersfield committed to a net spend of over £40m per club, using some of this season’s forthcoming Premier League cash in order to give them the best chance of staying up.
In contrast, despite making a £40m transfer profit for Newcastle in summer 2016, Rafa Benitez was blocked from signing anybody in January 2017 and then limited by Mike Ashley to a net spend of only £11.5m in the summer window.
The refusal to compete on both transfer fees and wages, as well as even loan fee in the case of Tammy Abraham, left Rafa Benitez desperately looking for bargains.
A situation which meant he didn’t land the new first choice goalkeeper, left-back, number 10, and centre-forward, that he desperately wanted/needed. Which in turn led to having to rely on £5m unwanted Stoke reserve striker Joselu for goals.
Rafa Benitez declaring ‘You can talk about players at Bournemouth or Burnley that we couldn’t sign because we couldn’t afford the fee or their wages’.
Whilst understandably not taking any notice of what people are saying on social media, the United boss admits ‘The real fans were upset on 1 September because we didn’t have a massive transfer window’, no doubt Rafa is including himself in that group of disappointed real fans.
The Newcastle manager though does see room for optimism, no mention here of any takeover, but he foresees staying in the Premier League and then getting a more realistic transfer budget to work with next summer.
Can Newcastle get to next summer safely? Rafa Benitez states the current position ‘Could be worse and could be better but we must stay calm’. It remains to be seen exactly what backing, if any, Rafa gets in the January window, if Mike Ashley is still in position.
Having already lost to the likes of Huddersfield, Brighton, Burnley, and Bournemouth, it underlines the challenge ahead. So many games will be decided by one goal, just as those four were, as well as was the case in wins over Stoke and Palace.
Rafa Benitez talking to the Chronicle:
“After some months this team will be stronger because they continue to work very hard.
“Then we will stay in the Premier League, we will get money from the TV and we can compete (next summer/season) against teams we couldn’t this year because of wages and transfers.
“You can talk about players at Bournemouth or Burnley that we couldn’t sign because we couldn’t afford the fee or their wages.
“We are now in a really good position and we have to enjoy it, stay calm and support the team – we are not at the bottom of the table.
“It could be worse and could be better but we must stay calm.
“Can you guarantee we’ll score goals? No, you can’t, because other teams set themselves up to defend.
“We have to learn that we are a team working hard and giving everything for the fans and the club – Home and away – they appreciate that.
“We can’t control what they (people/fans) are saying on social media now because there’s a lot of people on there.
“But the real fans were upset on 1 September because we didn’t have a massive transfer window.
“The only way now for us to compete and stay in the Premier League this year is to stick together.”