Looking ahead to 2018, it is hard to say how things look for Newcastle United.

I am sure there will be a section of fans who hold high hopes for the coming year, then another section who fear the worst. As is very much the case at Newcastle United, it seems like it is one extreme or the other.

On the one hand, there is an impending takeover, improved recent performances from the team, perhaps some signings in January and a club with a manager who is looking to turn this side into a half decent top flight team again.

On the other hand, the takeover talks continue to drag, and therefore money in January still looks like it won’t be available. With that, our Premier League position remains in jeopardy.

It is important to remember, that even before any signings are likely to be made (or at least available to play), Newcastle have three massive matches coming up, plus an FA Cup tie. Two home games against Brighton and Swansea are matches that we cannot afford to lose. Similarly, away to Stoke on New Year’s Day is just as important against a sit who side next to us in the table. Over the course of the next three Premier League games I would be satisfied with a minimum of 5 points.

We are on 18 points with 18 games to go. In my opinion, another 20 points would see us safe. That basically means we need to replicate what we did in the first half of the season. Surely we will manage that? I can’t see us going on another run of form as bad as the one we have just been on. Even without signings, I do think we will stay up… just.

Even so, this is one of the most important transfer windows in recent memory. Although, it feels like I say that about every transfer window in the past few years, so who knows?

It is imperative that we improve the squad. For me, a new GK and a number 10 is key. If the rumours are true, and there is around £30 million available to spend, then I would much rather we spent all of it on two proper Premier League players who are going to improve the team, rather than 4/5 below par signings like Joselu (no disrespect to Joselu intended).

You have to expect that teams around us in the league table are going to improve over the next month. Swansea, although they look at the moment like being the side most likely to go down at this point, have now appointed Tony Pulis. History shows that a new appointment will probably bring some upturn in form. Similarly, although West Brom have Alan Pardew in charge and can’t seem to buy a win, you would fancy them to start picking up a few points soon enough.

Alternatively, and this may be naïve of me, I expect both Brighton and Huddersfield to slip closer to the relegation zone over the next few months. I also don’t see Bournemouth picking up too many points, or improving much on their team during the window.

What I am saying, is that no matter how bad Newcastle are between now and the end of the season, I think there are at least eight teams (Brighton, Huddersfield, Swansea, Palace, WBA, Stoke, Southampton, Bournemouth) who are at our level. If we can build on our squad, then you would have to fancy us to pick up at least 20 points in the remaining 18 games.

It is also imperative that everyone at the club, including the fans, tries not to let the potential takeover distract us. Given the past 10 years, I see why that may be impossible. However, every day that goes by with silence from the club, and the media, makes me doubt whether it will happen. We are pretty much at January now and nothing seems to be happening. For the moment, we must play the hand we are dealt, rather than dreaming about the hand we could be dealt.

On a side note, while I am here, I just want to put my thoughts out on that first 30 minutes against Manchester City: I am one of those fans that thought the way Rafa set us up in the first half an hour was embarrassing. Judging from the reaction on social media to the likes of Neville and Carragher, I am in the minority on this one, but I totally agreed with the two pundits.

I don’t think anybody was saying that Newcastle should have gone out and attacked Manchester City – that would have been foolish, and I even think it is a tad foolish that some people thought that’s what the pundits on Sky were suggesting.

Setting up defensively against the best team in the country is a given. I was actually pleased with the line up when I heard it. Setting up super defensive, extremely tight and trying to make yourself hard to beat, is also a given. I would have done the same.

However, Rafa went too far for me in that first 30 minutes, or at least up until City scored. This was a team, at home, in the Premier League, who made absolutely no effort at all to get
out of their own half. There is going defensive, there is going super defensive and then there is taking the p…, for me, Rafa took the p… on Wednesday night.

Once City scored their goal (after hitting the post twice and missing a hatful of chances) we remained the same but at least tried to get the ball forward and hit them on the counter attack. Why couldn’t we do that to start with?

Why did we have to embarrass ourselves by playing attack vs defence for 30 minutes? That first 30 minutes wasn’t anywhere near good enough for me from the manager. In my opinion, and again, I suspect there wont be many backing me on this one, in that first 30 minutes (I reiterate, up until they scored), Rafa showed Man City so much respect, and was so negative, that I actually thought it was disrespectful towards all those fans that turned up.

I am not saying we should have attacked them, but at the absolute very least, the absolute bare minimum, I want to see my side make some sort of effort to try and get out of their own half, or attack, or try and score a goal. It pains me to say it but thank god Manchester City actually scored because it would have been painful to sit there all night and watch that.

Bristol City didn’t do anything close to that against Man United recently, and even lowly Luton Town won’t come to SJP next week and be that mind-bogglingly OTT defensive. Anyway, rant over about that, I just hope I never see something like that again.

It is a big month ahead both on and off the pitch for us, but more so on the pitch. I am fairly positive about what is to come, I have full faith in the manager, and the players that they have what it takes to pick up more than enough points to drag us away from the relegation zone.

(PS I thought Diame played well again on Wednesday night – like a new signing maybe? I won’t get too ahead of myself for now.)

Keep the Faith.

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  • glassjawsh-got-banned

    If we only buy 2 players in the transfer window (though my hunch is the number will closer to zero) We MUST get a new striker and a new #10. Statistically, our back line and GK are no worse than any of the other sides outside of the top 6 (plus Burnley). We need goals. Rafa has shown he can scheme a solid defense in lieu of top shelf players.

    • Soldier

      don`t be shocked if they go out & buy a keeper and a fullback, the saying lessons to be learnt doesn`t seem to apply to Newcastle

      • DC1964

        I agree. Elliot is a good keeper, his distribution has also improved greatly.

  • Soldier

    some of the worse fooballer`s i`ve seen in my life play for Newcastle United.
    spend the whole lot on a striker and a number 10. the older guy`s may have seen worse then Joselu, Diame, Perez etc but i haven`t. i have this feeling it`s going to be more rubbish coming through the door next month, the club got rid of Carr & replaced him with Carr mark 2. i think we`ll win on Saturday & at least get a point at Stoke

  • TubbyMunky

    Hold on..does this article say Swansea have just appointed Pulis? Uhm….

    • GeordieZebra

      Yep, stopped reading when I saw that level of insight…

    • Alex

      I’m afraid Comyn’s musings never float my boat. This one is so nonsensical (especially his ‘rant’) that my boat has just sank.

      • Tynewalker

        Self promotion posts usually.

  • Leazes Ender

    When does the Rafalution Start?

    • TheNutJob

      Tomorrow if not Monday or maybe the Swansea match,
      i think Rafa`s in talks with Penfold about it

    • anyobrien

      Last season when he won the league not an easy feat ask the mackems.

      • Kneebotherm8

        Or the Villa,a lot on here think promotion was a given.

        • anyobrien

          Correct

  • toonterrier

    If fatties still here we’ll probably bring in two eighteen year olds with potential ( or is that sell on value) and Joe Hart to make sure we get relegated. Come on Amanda we all love you and want you to save us from Destruction.

    • TheNutJob

      Is she still around, awful quiet. they must be waiting for Fatty to return from his hols

  • Oooh bobbi fleckman

    It does not really matter if the takeover goes ahead, unless we can clear some big earners off the books, we can’t add anyone on a decent wage as we fall foul of FFP.

    Brighton and Huddersfield were able to spend because they had scope in their wage bill. Brighton and Huddersfield were able to push their wages up from around £20m to £67m, we on the other hand had a wage bill already at the £67m threashold in the championship. OUr wage bill essentially can only increase £7m from last season.

    • Danimal

      I thought the wage bill had to be no more than a certain percentage of turnover? Are you suggesting our turnover is similar to theirs now? It might be, I haven’t checked. But if it is, then the club has been run down even more than I thought.

      • Oooh bobbi fleckman

        If your wage bill is less than £67m, there is no problem. Brighton had an £18m wage bill last year so can add £49m to the wages up to £67m with no sanction (Huddersfield had slightly lower so had more to add). Clubs with more than a £67m wage bill can only increase their wage bill by £7m a year. Nufc’s would have been around that figure to start with so we could only add £7m to our wage bill. We can income (other than TV money) increases. Given that we had very little in added gate receipts and most commercial revenue was constant, it was difficult to up the wage spend.

        This is why it’s so frustrating to read the re-hashed line of comparing our spend with the other promoted sides.

        • Danimal

          Yes, just had a read up on it. Certainly seems a shambles of a system. It does say there is a choice of using £67m or using 2012-13 as a benchmark instead, with £19m allowed on top. Our 2012-13 was £133m. Not suggesting we go back as high as that but does that not give us a lot more flexibility? I might have misread it. By the way, it also suggests you can exceed the £7m (or £19m???) increase if you can demonstrate increased commercial income. Fat chance of that I suppose!

          • Oooh bobbi fleckman

            It wasn’t £133m, that was turnover. I think I know the article you read, the author was supposed to correct it. Our wage bill in 2013 was around £65m which given we had one of the most conservative wage to turnover figures, we are a victim of good housekeeping.

            You will hear Rafa refer to ffp with more frustration than transfer funds. Two of our biggest earners are Mitro and Colback.

          • Danimal

            Yes, £133 sounds far too high for the wage bill, should have spotted that. On a different note, the turnover figures have stagnated during the last decade. Even without sales, you can just about get two PL quality players for £7m. If your boss allows it. We’ve had plenty of sales of course (eg. Thauvin), the proceeds of which presumably can be added to the £7m.

          • Oooh bobbi fleckman

            The problem is that the player trading pot gets a one-off bost in the year the player’s value is realised. Thauvin’s sale was of course less than his cost even after amortisation so that sale did not allow additional money for wages.

            Like you said, we can just get a couple of players in for £7m of wages. The problem for us is that two players are earning amongst the highest wages at the club but aren’t even in the side.

          • Danimal

            None of this excuses letting the manager pursue targets then pulling the plug at the last moment. None of this excuses the culture of misinformation that we have endured for ten years. And by the way, “good housekeeping”??? As someone whose car expired rather suddenly on the M5 last year, I understand the false economy of owning a valuable asset and not maintaining it properly. Good housekeeping involves spending money at the right times too.

          • Danimal

            Your man Ashley has cost this club tens of millions with his incompetence and needless relegations. Good housekeeping indeed. Find another club with this kind of support base and let me know in which part of the English league circuit they operate. I’ll give you some clues – Liverpool, Everton, Tottenham.

          • Oooh bobbi fleckman

            When has that happened?

          • Danimal

            The problem for us is that the owner stopped the highly respected manager from getting those “just a couple” of players that we could afford.

          • Oooh bobbi fleckman

            The turnover figure is about on par with other large established premier league team. We also have dug ourself a hole in terms of FFP. We’ve outsourced a lot of non-core services and taken a fee for them. Catering is no longer supplied direct but the club gets a fee for the right to run the kiosks etc. This is sensible as we’re bang in the city centre and it guarantees a regular profitable stream. The rules of FFP changed since those contracts were arranged and that now counts against us. We could have run the kiosks at a loss and it would have been better for ffp than outsourcing at a profit.

            FFP was drawn up to keep the top clubs in a group of their own. FFP doesn’t include debt, that is a very stupid.

  • Martin

    I really enjoyed the first 30 minutes. It was a textbook demonstration of defending compact and deep. The fact that the money men at Sky and everyone who feeds at the Premier League trough are concerned that it is off-brand makes it all the better. It takes far more guts and effort to play like we did on Wednesday then playing nice and open to please the cameras knowing that you are playing into City’s hands.

    • Gary McCarron

      You clearly have no pride

      • Alex

        Idiot.

        • Gary McCarron

          Nicely put Alex. I respect your measured response.

  • Gary McCarron

    Jonathan…….I agree with your sentiments.
    Good article. I suspect we might be on our own here though!!

    • Alex

      Yes, you’re on your own. It means, you’re wrong.