It’s been a season of slog at Newcastle United and more of the same lies ahead.
The winning streak that catapulted Newcastle as high as sixth in the table was wonderful, even joyous, and the hope was that the team could stay there, alas this Premier League is unforgiving.
Teams boast quality. They enjoy the benefit of shrewd investment. They speculate to accumulate. It works.
Mr Ashley’s shoestring approach to running a football club is exposed by the results that get served up. Top flight status is attempted on the cheap and that inevitably gets found out. The football always shines a light on Ashley’s shambling ownership. The difference this time is the world class manager in the dugout.
Mike won’t ever accept that spending buttons will deliver nothing but relegation battles. The ‘yo-yo club’ moniker fits nicely. That’s what we’ve got, so it’s to the credit of everyone at NUFC, despite the Mike Ashley shackles, for doing their best to make a go of it.
I have this theory that even the rank and file staff at the club must surely loathe everything the owner has done and the blueprint that has seen him make one of English football’s most iconic clubs repeatedly go into battle with one arm tied behind its back. How Rafa Benitez has stuck around is a minor miracle.
And before we go further, I am a firm believer that no manager is beyond criticism. Rafa has done some things that have left me scratching my head, but the buck stops with the Berkshire billionaire. He’s the root cause.
So the slog isn’t unexpected at Newcastle United. This is what it was always going to be like.
And now we are about to enter another transfer window. If we are to get 40 points then we need at least four new faces inbound, with some Premier League proven quality. This will give us a chance to pull further away from the relegation scrap.
If it descends into farce, like the summer trading, then we really will be looking at a very close run to the safety mark. It might be more ‘exciting’ but it could also be a nerve shredding run in to the end of the season in May.
If there truly is money committed from a prospective new owner to invest in January, then that’s great news, but even a takeover is no magic wand. It could shift momentum but would the impact be felt immediately?
The slog is what we’ve got and the slog is what we’re likely to see as the nights starts to get lighter.
The manager declared there is a deadline of January 20, by which time to get all his new players on board. He’s thrown the gauntlet down to the owner and put the pressure on the Managing Director to deliver something tangible, something credible, in this transfer window.
It’s not quite crunch time yet, but we are now entering a very important phase of the season, on and off the pitch.
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