Rafa Benitez wasn’t a happy man on Saturday night.

The Newcastle boss having watched his team fail to really get going throughout the ninety minutes and indeed, the United boss said that from the first minute he could tell that things were not right.

However, as usual, he isn’t one to either milk it when Newcastle win, or go overboard when they lose.

He will of course be no doubt going  over and over in his head as to what did go wrong and in particular what he could have done better/differently.

With the intention of  learning from that when the players go back to the training ground this week.

Whilst it is disappointing to lose games like Saturday’s and last Monday at Everton, it isn’t the end of the world is it?

With relegation no longer in the equation, this run-in to the end of the season was simply a chance to see if Newcastle could finish as high as eighth potentially.

Of course we have the odd drama queen, both at the match and on social media/online.

No doubt the same people who were calling this Newcastle team the new Real Madrid/Brazil after beating Leicester and Arsenal, are the same ones saying the entire NUFC side is rubbish after losing to Everton and West Brom.

The truth for normal people is that Rafa’s current team is somewhere in between and that was reflected at the game yesterday.

There was talk of booing at the final whistle but if there was it can’t have been many people, as I didn’t hear anything. I did hear plenty of moans and groans during the game, particularly during the later stages, which is just the usual frustration any set of football fans show when their team don’t have a clue how to break down the opposition. Jacob Murphy was a little unfortunate to get a decent number of the moans/groans, a late sub and guilty of probably trying too hard, meaning he ended up losing/wasting the ball a few times.

Apart from pride and a few extra quid in the club coffers (and player bonuses), these last five or six games are surely only really useful in terms of helping the club prepare for next season.

Games where Rafa Benitez can look at players and formations, to decide what he wants to go with in August, Islam Slimani somebody he looked to have already made a decision on when dropping him to the bench after only one start. Doing nothing then as a sub, apart from kicking out at West Brom’s Dawson and looking sure to now get a retrospective ban ruling him out of the last three games, will only help Rafa’s decision.

Losing these last couple of battles on the pitch, could actually though be a long-term blessing in disguise, helping Rafa Benitez and the Newcastle fans to win the longer game ‘war’.

Repeatedly in the past, we have seen the bizarre policy of Mike Ashley spending less when the team are doing well and then more when really struggling.

That fifth place in 2011/12 not being built on as only Vurnon Anita came in and even that was paid for by selling off the likes of Fraser Forster.

Whereas then significant money was spent in January 2013 with relegation threatened. As was the case to even greater effect, when all the club’s cash Ashley had stockpiled over numerous windows of allowing the squad to get weaker and weaker, was then all blown on the 2015/16 relegation season. Graham Carr and Mike Ashley bringing in the wrong players and then handing them over to Steve McClaren to mismanage – some £80m was spent/wasted in the summer 2015 and January 2016 windows.

It is just a total joke when you then see how Ashley has treated Rafa Benitez, the Spaniard actually having made the owner/club a profit in the transfer market, whilst building a promotion team AND getting a top half position currently in the Premier League.

Just like our daft extreme of fans though, no doubt with each extra win masterminded by Rafa Benitez, Mike Ashley has been thinking increasingly how little he can get away with in terms of transfer budget for next season.

The truth is that without some new better quality signings, Newcastle will once again be in a relegation battle next season. I bet Rafa has made that clear already to Ashley/Charnley but this winning run simply helps to convince themselves that the manager is exaggerating.

I actually don’t think any of our starting eleven against West Brom are total write-offs, it is more a case of thinking that apart from a very small group of players, which includes Kenedy and Dubravka who aren’t even ours yet, that pretty much every position could be improved on significantly.

That isn’t to say we have to have say seven new first team starters next season but Newcastle can’t blindly walk into next season thinking this eleven who produced four wins in a row recently, can automatically reproduce that form over an extended period next season.

West Brom fans could go the same way if only looking at their last four games, wins at Newcastle and Man Utd, plus coming back to draw 2-2 against Liverpool, as well as drawing with Swansea.

It is sadly the case that with Mike Ashley, Rafa Benitez will have a massively stronger chance of proper investment if the owner is convinced that money needs to be spent to avoid likely relegation, rather than as a means to build on a promising second half of the season.

Even more importantly, losing a few matches towards the end of this season, should surely help convince even Mike Ashley that Rafa Benitez has performed a minor miracle with this group of players.

The defeat to West Brom surely rubber stamping that, as the truth to me is that the Baggies probably have a squad that is of a similar quality to Newcastle’s but it is one that has been massively mismanaged, by Alan Pardew in particular. Rondon and Rodriguez being prime examples, clearly West Brom having better striking options than what Rafa has had with such limited transfer backing.

We all knew that once safety was assured, the biggest battles for Newcastle United would, as usual, be taking place off the pitch.

Good luck Rafa.

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  • Paul Patterson

    I was amazed how bad the passing was yesterday. There’s no excuse for players consistently failing to pass ten yards accurately.
    However, this team is now officially ‘on the beach’ and that has been clear for 180 minutes of football.
    Also, I think the decision to make a bid for Slimani has been decided with that lash out yesterday. Best avoid, especially at £20m+.

    • Peaky

      The whole Slimani saga has been a disaster from the start….should be returned to Leicester ASAP…

      • Leazes.

        If only the club had used transfermarkt they would have seen he was injured… or medics!

        • Peaky

          It’s almost comical….what’s that saying “if you don’t laugh you’ll cry “ …..something like that anyway ???

        • Jezza

          They knew he was injured and that was precisely why they signed him. An injured player on a dirt cheap pay per play loan deal was the only striker signing Fatso would sanction.

      • Rich Lawson

        Sadly so,I was really hopeful about him when he actually started playing for us but he has wasted his chance of any permanent move.Retro’ suspension on the cards,bet he doesn’t go back on a plane tho’.National Express with a disabled discount.

        • Jezza

          A permanent move for Slimani was never on the cards. It’s strictly loans and free transfers from now on.

    • Big Al 1967

      Totally agree and it wasn’t just the passing First time I have ever seen an opposition goalkeeper doing exercises in the second half to keep warm!

    • Jezza

      The decision not to make a bid for Slimani was made back in January. He only came here because Leicester agreed to a pay per play loan deal. Fatso was never going to dip into the profits to purchase a striker as the Jorgensen debacle clearly demonstrated and he wasn’t even prepared to pay the loan fee for Daniel Sturridge either. Slimani was brought in purely because he was the cheapest possible striker option available at the time.

  • Jezza

    There will be no money spent. Last summer a mere £11.5 million was spent and we have comfortably avoided relegation and could even finish in the top ten. On those grounds Ashley will be convinced that he can leave the profits completely untouched and spend nothing this summer, maybe even sell a key first teamer too, and still finish fourth bottom.

    • Peaky

      Think that key first teamer will be Lascelles….if the lad wants to fulfil his ambitions it’s not going to happen at SJP with the cockney gangster still around…

  • gallowgate26

    West Brom had some better players than us, internationals all over the pitch. Difference obviously is that they’ve been Pardewed this season and we’ve been Rafa’d.

    • magpiefifer

      Look how badly C.Palace were ‘Pardewed’ as well as WBA!!!!

  • Lord

    Ashley doesn’t need convincing about retaining Rafa. His SD business model is about paying management highly to keep the poorly paid shop floor workers in check.

    After years of scraping the bargain bin for managers, he’ll have realised the false economy of that strategy.

    Why pay £20m for a striker when you can pay £5m and then pay £6m to your world class manager to keep you up. That’s a £9m saving if your only goal is survival in the PL.

  • Viru leckworth

    Coleman out new owners in at Sunderland!

  • magpiefifer

    If we end up lower than 10th no doubt Ashley can use the excuse of losing income and further reduce the transfer kitty he will so generously be giving to Rafa/replacement!!

  • mactoon

    I definitely heard boos at the end of the game and judging by yesterdays match it’s a case of ‘well we’re safe now’. Of the loan deals we could sign the keeper if players are sold to finance it, Kenedy is another loan deal at best given that Chelsea don’t want to sell him and Slimani literally threw away any chance of being bought. Not that it was ever an option. I had high hopes for him but the ‘minor thigh strain’ kept him out until April followed by the petulant kick means a 3 match ban and the deal has been a disaster for Rafa but a win win for Ashley as he won’t have to pay his wages and he won’t have Rafa pestering him for the £20 million to sign him.

    The only bargaining chip Rafa now has is to stall on signing a new deal until after 10 August in an attempt to get Ashley to sign some players but I doubt substantial funds will be freed up and any players in will depend on whether we can sell players surplus to requirements. Don’t discount Lascelles being sacrificed in the name of profit.

    Ashley now has a top 10 club in his eyes and will see no need to spend on players given the current squad’s performance. £100+ million TV money and free SD advertising guaranteed for a further 3 years and another £100 million added to the sale price to deter any potential buyers.

  • mactoon

    Also Ashley just won’t listen to Rafa as long as he can keep us up with the players at hand. All he is interested in is staying in the Premiership so even if it went down to the last game to keep us up he would see that as a success and no need to build on next season. The man just does not have a football brain

    • Down Under Mag

      He isn’t in this for the football, it was all fun and games while he was playing the playboy millionaire with his new toy and the fans were singing his name and drinking with him, but he made some awful decisions for the football side, villified a club hero and saw the fans turn on him…(reason or not some fans overreacted and were a disgrace it must be said) and he’s never cared for the club nor the fans since. He is a petty individual we all know that, so for him as long as he keeps the free advertising going with no financial input from himself then he will be more than happy to keep the club and not care about where they finish as long as the TV money keeps rollling in.