Steve Harper knows his way around Newcastle United.

The goalkeeper spent two decades at St James Park and has seen many many ups and down at the club since joining in 1993.

Twenty five years on and eleven years into the reign of Mike Ashley, Steve Harper believes the owner is playing with fire if he gambles on keeping Rafa Benitez.

The former keeper declaring: ‘God forbid if Rafa Benitez was to leave the football club’, due to lack of support from Ashley.

Pointing to loan signings such as Kenedy and Dubravka after Mike Ashley blocked any buys in January, Harper points to those two players as example of the quality Rafa can attract and are of the ‘quality and level’ the manager wants to have available to him.

Those two loan signings instantly improved the team at the back and going forward, leaving fans wondering what could have been achieved if Ashley had backed Benitez last summer.

The transfer window opens in 16 days time and if the owner plays fair by his manager, Steve Harper believes Newcastle United ‘can move up the table year on year’ with sustained growth over a period of time.

Steve Harper talking to BT Sport:

“If Newcastle finish 10th (or higher), that’s an incredible achievement, and Rafa Benitez needs to be backed.

“Because if he is backed, the players he has brought in…the likes of Kenedy and Dubravka, they have shown the quality and level that he wants to work with.

“If he is backed, hopefully they can move up the table year on year.

“It is a big ask and he is not going to get the amount of money to break into the top six, that’s a big, big ask.

“But if he is backed to the tune of, I don’t know…£50million, £100million, I don’t know what players are now, then I certainly think they are capable of moving up a couple of places in the table.

“He gets it, he gets the club, and he’s won the fans over.

“Rafa has their respect and hopefully he’ll be backed.

“Having spent 20 years here, you know what can be around the corner, but God forbid if Rafa Benitez was to leave the football club.

“You measure any manager by how much he gets out of his players and you would have to say that Rafa Benitez has got the maximum out of this bunch of players.

“To be safe so early is a job very, very well done.”

  • TheNutJob

    Porter`s wheeling them out like a goodun along with dopey Ryder at the chron,
    Rafa must stay, we love you Rafa
    Fatty must back Rafa blah, blah, blah, it`s nee good tell us it`s Fatty you want to tell & i know what the answer will be
    ✌ off

    • kingfisher

      You are so negative Nutty.I firmly believe that Mike will give Rafa at least £100 million next season to enable him to buy some quality players such as oh hold on, is that a pig that’s just flew past my window? bu**er, I must have been dreaming, thought it was too good to be true.🐷🐖🐽😂😁🤣

      • TheNutJob


  • Paul Patterson

    We aren’t far off having a good side that (over the course of a full season) can compete with the top 8.
    We’re 7 points off Everton and they spent over £130m last summer/January.

    • Albert Stubbins

      Fair enough mate but eighth and seventh is still winning nowt. Were a million miles from top six or about two hundred million quid away depending on how you look at it.

      • Paul Patterson

        True, but we are never likely to compete with teams paying £50m for a full back and £90m for a midfielder. We’re going to have to lump it until a takeover happens. Only rich national back tycoons need apply. The hope is, with a top 8 aim achievable, we can have a crack at the cups and Europa league.

        • Albert Stubbins

          Agreed but without Rafa at helm we would have been relegated or very close to it this season. We are still a hell of a way off top eight in my opinion.

  • kingfisher

    “The transfer window opens in 16 days time and if the owner plays fair by his manager, Steve Harper believes Newcastle United ‘can move up the table year on year’ with sustained growth over a period of time.”
    Well,slap my buttocks with a school boys plimsoll, even Steve Harper
    thinks /hopes Ashley will back Rafa.Poor deluded boy

    • Andy Mac

      A size 10 plimsoll would hurt significantly Kingfisher Just be careful what you wish for 😀

  • I remember getting some negative comments when predicting within 10% what could be available to McLaren. The net spend then was around £75m.

    Looking at club finances now, more than that should be available to Rafa.

    Quite simply, we have Premier League revenues and relatively low costs with instalments due from the relegation clear out sales, such as Sissoko.

    Anything less than McLaren received would be an insult to Rafa and the supporters.

    • MichaelMaximusMoose

      The Pie man`s in a class of his own when it comes to insults

    • mactoon

      75m plus?

      Not a chance

    • Billmag

      Rex don’t be so optimistic you will be called an Ashley lover. 😀😀😀

  • mactoon

    ‘If he is backed to the tune of, I don’t know…£50million, £100million, I don’t know what players are now’

    You don’t seem to know much about Ashley either Harps

  • Albert Stubbins

    Once Rafa twigs that fatty is playing him for a fool he will reluctantly leave. Fatty got away with it recently using the doomed takeover as a smokescreen. I say doomed because he never had any intention to sell. Why give up the chance to pocket at least 30 million a year and this figure will rise considerably in the future. Once Rafa finally realises that fatty doesn’t match his ambitions for the club and that he’s going nowhere then it’s adios I’m afraid.

    • Geordiegiants

      That’s about the size of it really.

  • Geordiegiants

    He hasn’t even invested that in players in 11 years.

    • TheNutJob

      they`re off the wall Geordie, Jabba will spend nowt

      • Geordiegiants

        A very polite way of putting it Nut 🤬.

  • Scott Robinson

    The reality is that we aren’t far behind Burnley and Everton or Leicester but little better than any of the bottom 3,if better at all. The league is pretty poor. There’s no reason that we can’t finish 7th next season with some decent investment… except the one reason that is ‘Take the Michael Ashley’. Little investment and it will take a manager of Rafa’s ability just to keep us up once again. It might be poor below the top 5, but it is certainly competitive in the bottom half to survive!

    • Danimal

      I’d say it’s very evenly matched rather than poor but yes, surely with our resources we can do enough to at least make sure we have enough in the squad to avoid the regular relegation battles. Then we would be better placed to have the occasional tilt at the top six or (don’t laugh) a cup, if any of the current “elite” has an off-year. That sounds horribly cynical and unambitious but sadly that’s what this league has become. If we do get 10th, let’s see if the approx £13m additional prize money (compared with our original target of 17th) ever finds its way into these mysterious transfer funds.

  • Andy Mac

    Coming from an extremely perverse alternative viewpoint there are times when I would be happy for Rafa to chuck it all in and, as he marches out of SJP, cites the Fatman as the major reason for his departure.

    Maybe then the hand sitters, the happy clappers and those who continually ignore the level of harm Fatman has visited upon this club, will all finally realise they have an obligation to stand up and protect their club from the most deliberately ruinous owner we’ve suffered in many years.

    If it takes Rafa leaving for the fanbase to finally grow some then I’d take that !

    • kingfisher

      Well said Andy Mac.What will it take to make the 50,000 realize that Ashley is shafting not only those that attend sjp but also the thousands of fans around the world?
      I’ve said in previous posts that if it takes relegation (or as you say, Rafa walking) to make them actually do something positive to get rid of the Ashley regime, then so be it!
      When I’ve mentioned staying away in previous posts,I’ve had replies saying that it’s the whole “matchday” experience that people like, not just at the game, but before and after, pints with mates ,family etc.My answer to that is you can still have the whole matchday experience, but instead of going to the match, arrange to meet outside the ground and don’t go in.Ashley only understands and respects one thing : money, and if his profits fall then maybe, just maybe he’ll get the message.

      It’s sad, but even if Rafa left and cited Ashleys behaviour as the reason for leaving, Pardew was re-installed as Manager and Dennis Wise came back, the attendances would not be affected !

    • Damon Horner

      The Ashley Out Twitter account hasn’t been updated in nearly 3 months and that’s their sole purpose. Not just the “happy clappers” sitting on their hands. Who else is doing anything?