It isn’t breaking news that Rafa Benitez was badly undermined by Mike Ashley in the summer.
Being blocked when trying to sign players in January, the United boss made his clear his anger when the window closed and nobody had signed.
Then it was a similar story in the summer, signings that Rafa had lined up weren’t pursued by Ashley and his minions, the manager then left to try and make budget signings to plug the gaps. Whilst promoted clubs Brighton and Huddersfield had net spends of over £40m each, Newcastle’s was a very limiting £11.5m.
After both of these last two windows, after making clear his unhappiness, Rafa Benitez then quickly snapped into ‘let’s make the best of what we have got’ mode.
However, after defeat to Bournemouth, for the first time since the summer window closed, we heard the Newcastle manager refer back to the scale of the problems he faced back then:
“You can talk about players at Bournemouth or Burnley that we couldn’t sign because we couldn’t afford the fee or their wages.”
Now Rafa Benitez has added to those comments, making clear how weak Newcastle were left in one particular position.
The Newcastle boss brought in Achraf Lazaar to try and replace Paul Dummett in summer 2016, only for it to prove a total disaster, Lazaar not convincing Rafa to give him even a single Championship start.
This summer, a new left-back was widely reported to be near the top of the manager’s wish list, yet nobody was signed as budget constraints crippled the squad rebuilding.
Paul Dummett was injured only a few minutes into the season and was quickly diagnosed to be set for a minimum three months out. Yet with three weeks of the window still remaining, the club refused to back the manager in bringing in another left-back.
Even on deadline day, a loan move for Southampton’s third choice left-back, Matt Targett, was blocked by the Ashley hierarchy because of the size of the loan fee the Saints were asking for.
The net result has been Newcastle using four different fill-ins so far – with Ciaran Clark, Jesus Gamez, Chancel Mbemba, and Javier Manquillo, all playing there.
None of them left-backs and three of them not even left-footed.
Paul Dummett is now in the final stages of his comeback and Rafa Benitez has made clear he will bring him back in ASAP.
The manager saying ‘People don’t realise how important as a player he (Dummett) is, until you lose the player..he’s a left-back, who is left-footed…he is not bad with his left foot’.
On the other hand, Javier Manquillo has really struggled and got progressively worse, especially in recent games, Rafa Benitez saying ‘Manquillo is not a left-back…he is right-footed and should play on the other side’.
“I was talking with my staff about Paul Dummett.
“People don’t realise how important as a player he is, until you lose the player.
“He was doing well last season – he’s a left-back, who is left-footed and who has always done well for us.
“He is someone who knows his job – he is not bad in the air, he is not bad with his left foot.
“People say that ‘He needs to go to the byline and make crosses’ – it doesn’t matter, he can make passes, he can defend, he can help at set-pieces.
“He is a player who will give you something different, something that we don’t have already.
“Manquillo is not a left-back.
“He is working as one and doing a really good job because he is right-footed and should play on the other side.
“You have to realise the situation we are in…
“We were thinking about bringing him in, he would learn little by little and maybe be on the bench but we had to play him straight away.”