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.

Bournemouth

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.

Stoke

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.

Crystal Palace

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.

West Brom

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.

West Ham

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.

Swansea

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.

To feature like Matthew Robson submit your article to [email protected] and/or for more info go here

City Hall Gifts - shop.themag.co.uk



  • TheNutJob

    I don`t like having a go at Rafa but when you buy a £5m striker in the premiership you`re Doomed
    his signings have been dodgy to say the least, then a i read that Newcastle are looking at strikers around the 6 to 8 million mark from sub standard leagues, well it`s pathetic

    • Leazes Ender

      We’ve had a chairman called Charnley and for ten years he’s hidden himself under a rock and out of sight to the extent that rumours are that he died years ago.

      There’s a reason that the boneheaded Wirral born b*stard hides…. he’s been sh*tting on United fans and hapless puppet managers…..

      …. when the end of the world comes there will be cockroaches left…. Charnleys family.

    • HarryHype59

      I agree and would argue that these types of signings are pointless!

      • magpiefifer

        Was Rafa not trying to make a point to Ashley and Charnley!?
        Surely he knew that you unlikely to buy Prem quality for £5m,but give him credit for the Merino signing.

  • Charlie Dickens

    So if we don’t have January transfer funds you’re happy to finish 18th? If it’s all down to the quality of players then what’s the point of managers?
    Leicester City Squad that won the league:
    Kasper Schmeichel – £2m
    Danny Simpson – £2m
    Robert Huth – £3m
    Wes Morgan – £1m
    Christian Fuchs – Free
    Marcin Wasilewski – Free
    Marc Albrighton – Free
    Danny Drinkwater – £1m
    N’Golo Kante – £5.6m
    Riyad Mahrez – £400,000
    Shinji Okazaki – £7m
    Jamie Vardy – £1m
    Mark Schwarzer – Free
    Jeffrey Schlupp – Free
    Demarai Gray – £3.8m
    Andrej Kramaric – £7m
    Yohan Benalouane – £5.6m
    Andy King – Free
    Gokhan Inler – £5m
    Leonardo Ulloa – £10m
    TOTAL: £54.4m

  • HarryHype59

    The problem is, the club lost out massively from the 2016 relegation! Watford collected £109 million TV cash for finishing 17th in that season! NUFC collected £41m! Without investment from the owner the club was playing “catch up” with other sides in the lower third!

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    Net spent counts for nothing if Brighton and Huddersfield off loaded a load of players and got no money in and we sold half a dozen players for twenty odd million who were never going to play again. The fact is we spent more than them gross on players who would be in the squad on match days that’s what counts so we should still have a better squad.

    • TheNutJob

      who`s faults that then

    • HTL

      But Rafa was not allowed to bring the players in he wanted, his hands are still tied by the bean counters above him, Tammy Abraham and Matt Targett loans for example, and thats just the ones we know about.

  • Bb

    You’re an idiot. Are you forgetting how much Leicester paid for the likes of Vardy and Mahrez? Less than you paid for ONE of Sunderland’s reject wing backs they chose not to sign. Stop crying about not having as much money to spend as other clubs. What a pathetic excuse. Burnley are 4th in the league and have barely spend megabucks. You Spent £60m on championship quality players last season then moan because you don’t get £100m the next year. Maybe it’s your bang average manager and his boring 10 men behind the ball no matter who the opposition tactics?

    • HarryHype59

      Like Sunderland, we make too many bad buys!