Rafa Benitez believes that what his Newcastle players have done this season is ‘massive’ but the United manager is keen to spell out the reality.

The record books will show a top half finish for Newcastle United in 2017/18 and the supporters are understandably ecstatic with that.

A promoted team, a manager forced to shop in the bargain basement, ends up higher in the Premier League than eight established PL clubs and the two who were promoted alongside NUFC, but managers who received massive backing in the transfer market compared to Rafa Benitez.

The Newcastle boss is not fooled and knows he needs proper support in the transfer market and not just PR statements from the owner once again promising ‘every penny’.

Rafa Benitez knows that his squad have been very fortunate with injuries this season and the squad needs significant strengthening, the last few months of the season saw Rafa relying on the same 11 players week in week out, with nobody capable of coming in and matching what they could give. Plus that 11 players included two (Kenedy and Dubravka) who were only on loan.

The table can be deceptive as well, last season Southampton finished eighth but still sacked Claude Puel, on the surface that appeared bizarre as they had only dropped from 6th to 8th but they had actually dropped 17 points from that previous 2015/16 season. The table last season (2016/17) ended up with only six points separating Southampton in eighth and Watford who ended up 17th, one place off relegation.

Rafa Benitez points out the reality: ‘It is not enough just to finish tenth with four or five teams around you. What I would like is to be sure that the team is able to compete to finish above tenth.’

If things had worked out differently on Sunday, Newcastle could have ended the season as low as 15th. Indeed they finished ahead of Palace and Bournemouth only on goal difference, whilst only four points separated NUFC in 10th and Brighton in 15th.

That is not to say the fans can’t enjoy the 10th place finish but Rafa Benitez is clearly warning Mike Ashley that the top half finish also includes an element of luck, both in terms of staying free from injuries and a few vital results that tipped the balance.

Plenty of room for optimism BUT only if Rafa Benitez stays AND is backed properly.

Rafa Benitez:

“It is not enough just to finish tenth with four or five teams around you.

“What I would like is to be sure that the team is able to compete to finish above tenth.

“That means having the right quality, the right mentality, the right level throughout the whole season, not just for some performances.

“This group of players have done so well, so it would be easy to say, ‘OK, you are already in the top ten’…we have to do something more to make sure that the group is stronger and more competitive.

“That we can go to any stadium and think about going to win, rather than thinking that a draw might be a good result.

“We have to have the confidence in our team, to be able to go anywhere thinking that we can win.

“It is clear what we need.

“We have a couple of players on loan who are leaving and a couple of players who have finished their contract as well (Jesus Gamez and Massadio Haidara), you need to sign players to be sure you have a good squad with competition.

“You need competition and enough levels within the squad, to make sure you can approach any game thinking you can win.

“It can’t be the case that  when you miss one or two players the team is not the same, we need a squad that has to be capable of competing in the Premier League.

“What the players did last season and what they have done this season is massive, and the fans appreciate this togetherness, that relationship we have created.”

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 3 Chelsea 0


Newcastle: Gayle 23, Perez 59, 63

Possession was Chelsea 58% Newcastle 48%

Total shots were  Chelsea 6 Newcastle 16

Shots on target were Chelsea 2 Newcastle 6

Corners were  Chelsea 2 Newcastle 4

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett, Ritchie (Hayden 72), Shelvey, Diame (Haidara 87), Murphy, Perez, Gayle (Joselu 48)

Unused Subs:

Darlow, Manquillo, Gamez, Merino

Crowd: 52,294 (3,000 Chelsea)

(Alan Shearer reacts after end of season 3-0 hammering of Chelsea – Read HERE)

(Sunday night’s Match of the Day Running order is HERE)

(Read the instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to the victory HERE)

(Kenedy post emotional farewell message to Newcastle United – Read it HERE)

(Breaking News: Mike Ashley releases statement asking Rafa Benitez to stay at Newcastle United – Read it HERE)

  • FatParosite

    Anyone who thinks Ashley released that statement because he has suddenly got a new found love of the club and is prepared to change the policy and ambitions for the club, need to stop the payments to their stupid season ticket habit and cut the dosage to their overly strong medication.

    Ashley’s pronouncement is a thinly veiled threat to Benitez to be quiet. Here is the bullet: “On many occasions throughout the season they have been described as a championship side, which I personally consider to be derogatory.” He clearly wants to keep the shoestring budget.

    • TheFatController

      Ashley misses the point completely.

      The pundits saying we were a championship side were making the point ‘most teams that come up strengthen the first team with decent spend, Newcastle have spent £10m net, it’ll be their manager who will keep them up therefore’

      If you are in the championship and then have a £10m net spend, Ashley, you ARE a championship side – FACT!

      That’s the point. He’s clueless …

      • ghostrider

        Net spends is not the whole story, so why use it?
        The reality was, we were a premier league team in the championship and still bought premier league players whilst in it, with the odd championship players to add a leg up.

        We got promoted because we were basically too good for most of the rest in that championship over the season because we had more quality due to us being primarily a premier league team.

        We got promoted back to the premier league and added further premier league players and/or premier foreign talent and offloaded some championship players, which left us with very few championship players in the squad.

        The issue with Rafa was simple.
        He couldn’t lose.

        1. If we got relegated despite his buys and inability to use them and also inability to prioritise a better striker by spending on anything but, it was because he had a championship squad and was starved of his top targets.


        2. If he stayed up on goal difference he’d have done a sterling job against all odds, with a championship squad.


        3.Like he’s done now with a gamble on loan signings that worked and got him to 10th and his sudden upturn in allowing players to actually have a go throughout games….he’s now a genius and all done on his own and nothing whatsoever to do with Ashley, we are told.

        The real genius managers are those that actually had championship players in the championship for years and man aged to stay up…yet somehow Rafa is placed on…not only a pedestal but touted as a potential manager of the season.
        talk about over hyping someone.

        Now look at Hughtons wages and Wagners and look at Rafa’s and what he had in quality.

        I love Newcastle United but I’m not going to blow smoke up Rafa’s aris any more than is required.

        His real test is next season where he has no excuses.
        I’ll see what happens then.

    • Toonrobbybobson

      Only way to be rid is starve the season ticket money and stop watching Newcastles games on Skysports so they stop picking us. We can make it known to Sky that we are boycotting their TV matches so they will stop picking. Hurt him in the pocket and devalue his asset. He only listens to money. He likes getting one over people. Protests are pointless they are amusement to him and make us look like nutters.

  • Peaky

    Don’t believe one word that comes out of that lying fat bas*ard’s mouth….

    • Leazes.


      • Peaky


    • Wor Lass

      You can tell when he`s lying because his lips move.

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    We were the tenth highest Gross spenders last season laying out £60m and we will spend more this season. The way Shearer and this site goes on you would think we had spent nothing.

    • Wor Lass

      Gross spend -that`s most people`s gripe. Too much incoming money disappears into a black hole.

    • Paul Patterson

      Back under your bridge . .

    • East Durham Mag
    • TheFatController

      All the facts, or none at all, would be my advice. You need to be credible.

      In future, try not to be selective of facts that support your argument only. That’s confirmation bias and most people see straight through it and you’ve lost credibility.

      It’s very hard to get crdibility back once you’ve shown yourself to be discredited by not having/ using all the facts and appearing hugely biased.

    • Paul Smith

      Ignoring how many players left and how much money came in…. We made the biggest transfer profit of any team in the championship last season (£30 million net profit on transfer fees) and you can try and spin it any way you want but the manager was not given enough to strengthen the team last summer.

      We ended up with Joselu out of desperation at the last minute after other higher priority targets were missed. The team we had this season arguably has less talent in it than the season we got relegated but the manger has got players such as Diame, Yedlin. and Dummet performing at a far higher levels than they normally perform at.

      • Monkseaton Magpies

        The fact is we spent £38m on players who are not regulars a lot of money. £12m for Murphey, £10m Merino, £6m Atsu being examples. We did not have a lot of money left after coming up as we were paying Premiership wages.

  • Lord

    I hope that Rafa takes a well deserved holiday this year and doesn’t waste time trying to secure transfers using ‘all the funds the club generates’.

  • ghostrider

    I remember Shearer saying Rafa would not be at the club if we got relegated when he took over from McClaren.
    Wrong Alan.

    • Andrew

      Are you saying that because you’re trying to make the point that Shearer is a liar, or because Rafa is somehow suited to a relegated team? Either way, I doubt either of them care about your opinion Ghostrider, since you’re clearly a wind-up merchant (although not as good as Clarko or Monkwearmouth).

      • ghostrider

        No I’m not making any point about Shearer being a liar. I’m making a point that pundits and ex players who think they know what’s what….do not actually know what’s what all of the time and are speculating just like fans do.