The words of Rafa Benitez from eight months are now ringing true.

As Mike Ashley continued to break his ‘promises’ to help his manager in the summer 2017 transfer window, Rafa became increasingly animated about the situation.

Despite the Ashley statement that Rafa Benitez could have ‘every last penny’ to invest in the squad the Newcastle manager instead found himself having to shop for bargains.

As a promoted club this was crippling, with even Huddersfield and Brighton having tens of millions more net spend than Newcastle United.

A much hyped Mike Ashley interview was announced to be broadcast on Sky Sports after the opening game against Spurs, with it made clear this was the owner’s latest episode in trying to win a bizarre PR battle against his own manager, after Rafa had repeatedly gone public with his unhappiness on lack of transfer backing.

Getting his retaliation in early, the United boss did an interview ahead of that first game of the season, making clear what the reality was.

Rafa Benitez – 9 August 2017:

“The name of the manager doesn’t matter, it is about the team.

“If you have the right tools you can compete…

“When you have a very strong team, then it doesn’t matter if the manager isn’t good enough, because you can still win.

“I don’t like to talk too much about managers – the thing that matters most is the players.”

When January came around, just like the midway window a year earlier, Mike Ashley refused to allow Rafa Benitez to buy any players.

However, the Newcastle boss did identify better quality that he could bring in on loan.

To sum up how much better he thought his loan signings were, Rafa put Kenedy into his team as soon as he arrived starring in the 1-1 draw with Burnley. Newcastle’s best player and biggest threat throughout, United would surely have won if Joselu hadn’t fluffed the penalty that Kenedy won.

Then Dubravka was thrown right in the deep end, making his debut against Man Utd, a man of the match performance as Newcastle won all three points and kept a clean sheet.

These are the last eight games, with latest first, since Kenedy and then Dubravka (and Slimani) arrived:

Leicester City 1 Newcastle 2

Newcastle 1 Huddersfield 0

Newcastle 3 Southampton 0

Liverpool 2 Newcastle 0

Bournemouth 2 Newcastle 2

Newcastle 1 Man Utd 0

Crystal Palace 1 Newcastle 1

Newcastle 1 Burnley 1

Having added better quality (‘Right Tools’) in January, Kenedy and Dubravka have had a massive influence on performances and results.

The last eight Premier League games with Kenedy playing eight and Dubravka six, have produced 15 points.

The first 24 PL games this season had produced only 23 points.

Newcastle going from picking up on average one point per game, to suddenly picking up only a fraction under two points per match with the loan signings.

Also, up until the January additions, the only teams Newcastle had beat were relegation strugglers.

However, recent weeks have seen winds over both second placed Man Utd and eighth placed Leicester.

Rafa Benitez is a very talented coach/manager but as even he insists, he can only do so much when he has a certain level of player available.

Dubravka and Kenedy have made a massive difference at both the front and back, with it being an urgent job to tie them down to permanent moves in the summer.

With those two and another couple of ‘right tools’ added in the next transfer window, who knows where Rafa Benitez might take us…?

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  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    He won`t be getting new tools anytime soon under the Fat Lad & Sky are reporting
    PSG & Bayern are interested in Kenedy

    • Fireman Sam

      As long as fat Ashley owns the football club the most we can hope for is a successful fight against relegation. He has no intention of spending any reasonable sum of his money (clubs tv revenue) on new players.

      • Jezza

        That’s absolutely correct. Ashley is extremely reluctant, to say the least, to dip into the profits for team strengthening. He’d much rather pocket the whole lot.

  • Pozz Mozz

    Come on Rafa
    Surely you stole some ideas from some brilliant footballing brains ghost writing here.
    No way your ancient, negative football style would have changed so much and brought those wins.

  • relaxed

    Cue for flekman to join the debate and tell us how grateful we should all be because every penny is spent on the club

  • Sing in the Leazes

    You can trust Ashley.
    He’s very consistent .
    You always know where you stand.
    Year in year out every transfer window without fail he sticks to the same rules.
    Dependable reliable predictable Mike.
    His behaviour, taken together with his occasional utterances, reveal a strategy of causing maximum disappointment to fans. I reckon he hates us and does it on purpose.
    As a businessman it is claimed that he likes a gamble but I think he’s the opposite. He shows no ambition. Not only for NUFC but for his day job too. All those billions to be so tatty and cheap.
    Where’s your class man? Where’s your pride?
    One of the reasons he gets away with it is the stupidity of it. I mean who would do such things. Imagine as a kid someone told you you’d win a million pounds. Two thousand times over?
    What kind of person fantasises about buying a football club…. to run at a profit at a mediocre level and enthuse no-one?
    What would be the point in that?
    What a stupid man you are Mr Ashley.
    Please stop inflicting your crass attitude n our beautiful club. The Pride of the Geordie Nation! How dare you!

    • thewildchimp

      I honestly, genuinely hoped he wanted to change, after he spent a lot of cash during McClaren’s tenure. It’s a sad case, all of this.

  • GToon

    The only concern I have about the way the season is finishing is that Ashley will think he has got it right. He will therefore continue to do the same thing until we are relegated again, like some kind of uncaring moronic computer program.

  • thewildchimp

    Then, if you only have, let’s say, a screwdriver – you can only screw bolts, right? Wrong. Depending on the size, the strength and the shape of it, you can also drill holes, pick locks, pull roots and, generally, do plenty of things. If you know how to use it. If the manager does a good job, the team will be stronger, if he doesn’t, it will become weaker. Otherwise, why change managers?

    Rafa is a brilliant coach and a good man, but what he did last year was absolutely classless. He fought against Ashley in the worst way possible for the team: through the media. They’ve lost confidence, some got visibly angry, like Shelvey and Mitrovic. I know they are both hotheads but they were right. Kenedy was our only true outfield reinforcement last winter but he isn’t so good as to carry the team on his own. What he did was that he gave Rafa more confidence and, in turn, the others’ confidence also plummeted. We now don’t play overly defensive, we go out and smash teams. Are you going to tell me that it’s solely the work of a manager, who isn’t the one actually kicking the ball, a young lad who doesn’t have the strength to finish the game and a keeper (albeit keepers are also massive). To cut the story short(er) – our players, most of them, had it already inside them to be a decent Premiership side, not brilliant, but good enough. I’ve seen it from the day one when I saw them play and that’s why I was so p’ssed off because of the negativity surrounding the club. Of course there were problems, in fact, they have deepened now with the likely departure of Mitrovic (at least he was an option before, now God only knows who will we bring) but the point is that we can overcome them. But only if we stay UNITED. It’s not about who plays, who pays, who goes to the games or who doesn’t, it’s WE who have to deal with the hurdles, because it’s OUR club, from Mike Ashley to the youngest lad. And the only way to truly be united is to carry the burdens of our fellows and to correct our mistakes.

    So, stop patronising Rafa, stop needlessly bashing the lads, if someone is wrong, give them the space and the time to better themselves and, for once, stop dividing amongst ourselves. It’s a team effort.

  • Wor Lass

    MonkSatan will tell you that Mike never lies. He actually did give Rafa every last penny – he just didnt give him all the ones that came before. He`ll be coming to now in the lounge of the Nag`s Head, wondering what the stench is coming out of the fireplace and thinking, “Whats all the fuss about? I told Rafa he didn`t need any more money for permanent signings!”

  • ghostrider

    Rafa had the tools but refused to employ them in the correct way and suffered the consequences.

    He brings in a loan who he knows he has to play and starts to play more balanced football throughout.
    That change in tactic gave underperforming and utterly dejected players the opportunity to express themselves and show what they’re capable of.
    End result is there for all of us to see as well as knowing the feeling of actually being entertained enough to keep us happy.

    Rafa can take the plaudits for that but he got the stick for earlier because he deserved it, 100%.

    • Mike

      so who would you have as manager? tripe. look at how Diame Dumment and Shel have done ..its all down to coaching

      • ghostrider

        It’s all down to tactical change, called, allowing players to express themselves a bit rather than just following one set route.

        • Paul Smith

          Rubbish because we did change tactics earlier in the season when we were on that bad run… We went from 1 striker to playing with 2. Results didn’t improve. So the idea that we played one set route all season until Kenedy came in is just factually incorrect. It’s also factually incorrect that we have to player Kennedy..

          • ghostrider

            The tactics were a flash in the pan change. They also were only employed for half a game and the usual revert back to type was reinstated.
            We became a one half team.

            Also I’m not begging for two strikers…I was asking for balanced football where we have our say all over the pitch for 90 plus minutes instead of what we used to do in terms of sitting back thinking we could just absorb pressure after pressure and luck a game out. Sometimes it worked but many times we got punished for it and was why we were in relegation trouble.

            The change up to a balanced set up and player freedom to express whilst also knowing their drill, pays dividends as we can clearly see.

    • Paul Smith

      Benitez doesn’t have to play any player he got on loan… How could that be enforced? Chelsea might only have agreed to loan him under certain conditions but there’s nothing they could do about it the manager chose not to play him. The only thing Chelsea could do about it would be to recall the player (at the next transfer window) and reconsider loaning us other players in the future. Sometimes there are contractual obligations where you have to pay the parent club more money in the event that the player isn’t picked but even that doesn’t force the manager to play him… The manager is the 1 who selects the team.

      • ghostrider

        I’m not sure what you’re getting at here.

  • Desree

    One day, probably after Rafa leaves, fans will recognise the monumental job the bloke has done. He could have walked, he has stayed and put up with being undermined and lied to. Yes he gets paid 5m a year, but he will cover his salary by finishing 12th and not fifteenth.

    When taking on Mike Ashley, class is not something that works, sometimes you have to stand up and fight. The one time when Mike Ashley did go big on transfers is when the fans took a stand and didn’t turn up to games and demonstrated. Not much class there but it worked.

    • thewildchimp

      We ought to keep our dignity, otherwise it’s all for nowt. Dignity is what separates us from the likes of Ashley, from those that had thrown it away willingly. Even if we lose the battle.

      • Desree

        I suggest anyone with a season ticket lost their dignity a long time ago.

        • thewildchimp

          Either that, or they are too hooked on going to the games. I have a couple of mates, fans of other clubs, who will quit playing football in the middle of our match in order to go and watch some lame teams playing sh’tty football; later they’ll moan how bad their clubs are and how they despise going to the games. It’s fanaticism at it’s worse.