Maybe now is the time for all the fans of Newcastle United to take a reality check.
I have noticed recently the odd comment here and there suggesting Rafa Benitez has to take a significant part of the blame, as well as Mike Ashley, for the recent struggles.
Obviously as the manager he has take some responsibility for how things are going and his influence on them but if it is a case of sharing blame for results, his portion would almost be invisible to the naked eye, compared to the Fat Controller.
The flurry of points earlier in the season has blinded some people I think.
Ironically, it was Rafa masterminding a run of results against West Ham, Swansea, Stoke, Liverpool and Southampton, that allowed the gullible to think NUFC had a far better squad than was the reality.
So how does the Newcastle United squad measure up to the opposition, should Rafa Benitez be expected to be doing better with what he has got available?
Here are the rest of the bottom seven clubs at the minute.
Now established in the Premier League, they brought in three major signings in the summer all from the top tier. The excellent Begovic arrived as first choice keeper, massive wages and contract for free transfer Defoe, plus £20m on Nathan Ake from Chelsea.
Remember, this was adding to a Premier League squad going into its third season in the top division.
They added the likes of £17m Wimmer from Tottenham and paid a £7m loan fee for Kurt Zouma.
This is adding to a long established Stoke squad who have the likes of Shawcross and many other tried and tested Premier League players, as well as the likes of Shaqiri and Allen.
In the summer they signed £25m defender Sakho from Liverpool and just like Stoke with Zouma, paid a significant loan fee to take new England darling Loftus-Cheek to Selhurst Park.
This followed spending of over £90m the previous season on Benteke, Townsend, Milivojevic, Schlupp, Tomkins and van Aanholt, almost all of them having significant Premier League experience already.
The Baggies forked out on Premier League players such as Rodriguez, Gibbs and Barry this summer, as well as Burke from Leipzig.
This was adding to a Premier League squad that already had the likes of Rondon, Philips, Chadli and Livermore recently brought in.
The 2016/17 season saw the Hammers spend around £75m on the likes of Ayez, Lanzini and others.
Then the summer saw major spending on proven Premier League players Chicarito, Arnautovic, Hart and Zabaleta.
The Swans once again pushed the boat out to try and ensure top tier safety, paying out some £37m on Clucas, Mesa and Bony, as well as over £7m on Sanches’ Bayern Munich loan fee, plus a reported £5m to secure Tammy Abraham for the year on loan.
So where do Newcastle United stand alongside this lot?
I have to say, I struggle honestly to claim that NUFC have a stronger squad than any of this lot. It doesn’t mean we can’t beat them but it does mean that there are no margins for error and that if they play their best, Newcastle may still get beat even if they play well themselves.
If pushed I think maybe Newcastle could have as strong a squad on paper as West Brom but even that is optimistic.
Speaking of optimism/stupidity, I heard a couple of clown after the Leicester match saying ‘we should be beating the likes of these’. Well we should think Newcastle have a chance of beating them if things fall right but to go on as though it was a shock to lose to them is mental. They have £25m strikers on the bench that struggle to get a game, as well as still retaining the basis of a squad that won the title two seasons ago.
The two clubs that Newcastle could and should have been expected to be better than, are the other promoted teams.
They are actually in the two places above the clubs listed above.
I think it would be crazy to claim Newcastle have a better squad than Brighton now. There was nothing to choose last season between the pair but when they have a £40m+ net spend in the summer and Newcastle’s is just over a quarter of that, common sense tells you that what Rafa Benitez has at his disposal is not better than the options Chris Hughton has.
As for Huddersfield, they chased Newcastle and Brighton all the way last season, until falling away at the closing stages, then resting key players ahead of the play-offs once automatic promotion wasn’t happening.
Newcastle United definitely had a better squad than the Terriers last season but with a £40m+ net spend in the summer just like Brighton, can we really say for sure that this is the case now?
Certainly their results so far (three points ahead of Newcastle) tell you they are no mugs and that the summer spending has definitely improved them, helping to get results like the win over Man Utd (and Newcastle…).
So in the final analysis, who has the worst/weakest squad in the Premier League?
I think you will find it amongst West Brom, Huddersfield and Newcastle United, which tells you, if you agree, what a massive job Rafa Benitez has on his hands, unless significant help is given in the January transfer window.
Remember as well, Rafa Benitez is/was not only hampered by a lack of funds for transfer fees, it is also the reluctance to pay significant loan fees, or take on older players with no resale value/profit.