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‘Anxious but hopeful’ – The minimum needed to keep Rafa at Newcastle United

3 years ago

The season closed for Newcastle United on Sunday 13 May.

So what does everybody think about the past, present, and future for NUFC?

We have asked some of our regular/irregular writers to give us some feedback on a number of questions about the club, as yet another vital close season confronts us.

Next up is contributor Geordie 7676:

Three words that describe your current mood regarding Newcastle United?

Anxious but hopeful.

Does Mike Ashley really want Rafa Benitez to stay?

Without a doubt. Rafa has given the club a new lease of life and is moving us forward instead of the backwards/sideways trend we had been on for the previous 10 years. The problem is power and control. Ashley doesn’t like it when one of his employees display more power than he does. At the moment he is trying to show Rafa that whilst the people may love him, he is still holding the whip, and can crack it whenever he wants.

One of the biggest problems I see with this situation is that Ashley is like that distant parent who chooses not to show affection. Deep down he knows that he wants and needs Rafa, but will he say it out loud? Not likely.

What do you think would be the minimum needed to convince Rafa to at least stay for the final year of his contract?

Provided he can bring in some new players I think he will stay. I don’t think it is going to take the huge amount of money that some people believe Rafa wants to keep him. Give him 30-40m plus a portion of money generated from player sales and I think he will be happy.

What do you think would be the minimum needed to convince Rafa to extend his contract this summer?

Guarantees of complete control. I don’t think Rafa wants a huge pot of cash, it would be nice of course, but he is a realistic bloke, and will understand football finances better than most of us. What he will want though is full control. It has been said before, but I will repeat it again. If he has 40m to spend, and he wants to splash it all on one player, then that is his decision. That is what Rafa wants. Ultimately that is what any manager wants.

What efforts should be made to keep last season’s loan players and what percentage likelihood do you think there is of Newcastle signing each of them this summer?

Martin Dubravka:

Top priority of the three.

Comes at an absolute steal of a price, improves the standards between the sticks instantly (As was proven in his first game) and gives confidence to the back four – 90% he will be staying.

Islam Slimani:

I wouldn’t waste any time trying to bring him back.

For the amount of money we would need to pay for him (Leicester paid £29m for him less than 2 years ago) I just don’t see it being viable. If however, we were offered him cheap, around the £12-15m mark then I would have to agree that then it WOULD be worth it. It all depends on his price tag. 25% chance, with a lot of variables.


I thought the kid was class from the moment he touched the ball for the first time in a black and white shirt, but this one will absolutely be out of our price range. It shouldn’t be but it will be. The only glimmer of hope I see is that I think he loved it here. 10% chance of this one happening.

Seven players (in order) that Newcastle definitely need to keep for next season?

Lascelles, Shelvey, Ritchie, Lejeune, Merino, Perez, Clark.

The 2016/17 Newcastle United Accounts have belatedly been made public, the club claimed a ‘£90m loss’ whilst various football finance experts agreed it was actually a ‘real loss’ of under £20m. Discuss.

I am not an accountant by any stretch of the imagination (I am in charge of the money at home though, so that makes me an expert, right?) but it is clear for all to see that the financial experts are correct in what they are saying. It is not so much that the books have been cooked, but they have been established in such a way as to suit an agenda that results in minimal spending.

Ultimately however we aren’t broke, so all is not lost. There is potential there.

Where do you think Newcastle would have ended up in the Premier League if:

Hadn’t signed Dubravka and Kenedy in January? 18th

Had signed Dubravka but not Kenedy?                     15th

Had signed Kenedy but not Dubravka?                     17th

As well as a decent transfer budget, Rafa Benitez has made clear that Newcastle have to also show ambition when it comes to the new training complex that was promised years ago, as well as investment in a fit for purpose Academy. How integral do you think these things are for both Rafa and the future of the club?

Whilst I do believe in having a well-equipped academy, part of me can’t help but think that irrespective of how modern and technologically advanced it is, we still wont be as attractive as some of the other already well established and efficient academies. I understand the potential an academy brings – bring through the next Shearer and we can make a fortune on future sales, but unfortunately, the number of players that make it after going through an academy is minimal. For every Shearer, there are 100 Xisco’s, each one costing a small fortune along their path to eventual failure. I have to be honest and say that at this moment in time I just don’t see it as a priority. It would be great, but we have more important concerns at the minute.

The training complex however IS a priority, and I do believe that if Rafa was to stay past his final year, we would see the upgrades being done in the not too distant future.

How relaxed are you at the minute in terms of everything turning out OK this summer?

It wasn’t that long ago really that I still held out some hope that Ashley would see the error of his ways and start running the club as it should be. That evaporated entirely over the last 3 windows, so I am extremely guarded and realistic when it comes to my expectations. Do I think that this summer could be different? I suppose it all depends on how serious Ashley is about selling up and getting out of dodge. If he truly wanted to sell then now would be the time to get Rafa’s commitment, invest in the squad and have us looking like a potential top 8 club come the back end of 2018 – do that and he may have a buyer come the end of next season. As always though, I am talking sense there, so he will probably do the opposite of everything I just said. I’m not relaxed at all.

What do you make of everything that has happened at Sunderland and how do you think they will get on next season?

Shoot me now – I really feel for them.

I know that they revelled in our demise in the relegation seasons, I know they continue to laud the 6 in a row, and I know that I shouldn’t waste any time feeling sorry for them, but I do. It could so easily of been us – a lot of people say no, that’s not possible, we are too big a club to of done that, but you only have to look at Leeds to realise that it most certainly could have happened.

One of the best things about football, in my opinion, is the rivalry between fans. It’s a beautiful thing seeing people, alike in so many ways, but passionately divided by their love of a certain football club. The noise of a derby day, the feeling you get when the players line up, the anticipation of the first hard tackle going in, the elation of a victory and the deflation in defeat, that’s what its all about. It will be a long time before we see that again unless we pull them in the cup, and that to me is sad. They hold no relevance to me other than they are our rivals and the games are special, and I hope to see one again soon.

Despite everything that is still going on there, I think their stay in League 1 will be short, and they will be a championship club the following season, where I think they will stay for a fair few years.

Of the current squad…:

Definitely need to keep for next season:

Jamaal Lascelles, Jonjo Shelvey, Mohamed Diame, Florian Lejeune, Matt Ritchie, Paul Dummett, DeAndre Yedlin, Ayoze Perez, Ciaran Clark, Mikel Merino

Don’t mind if they stay but if decent offer comes in then sell:

Dwight Gayle, Jacob Murphy, Christian Atsu, Isaac Hayden, Karl Darlow, Rolando Aarons, Chancel Mbemba,

Need to be moved on:

Henri Saivet, Matz Sels, Achraf Lazaar, Jack Colback, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Rob Elliot, Javier Manquillo, Joselu.

I don’t like saying that Mitro’s time has come, I think the guy is great and I really wish it had worked out for him, but unfortunately it just didn’t for whatever reason. I would like to see him be a success, and I think a sensible move for him would be to stay at Fulham. Now that they are confirmed as a PL club again and considering the impact he made to the second half of their season, I think we may actually be able to turn a profit on him if we sell him to them.

If Newcastle stuck with exact same squad of 2017/18 (not including the loan players), what would happen in 2018/19?

Relegation fodder, without a shadow of a doubt.


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