Living in hope with Newcastle United
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 Matthew Robson:
How relaxed are you at the minute in terms of everything turning out OK this summer?
With Rafa staying we shouldn’t get relegated but everything else depends on Mike Ashley. So zero relaxation that we will progress properly.
Three words that describe your current mood regarding Newcastle United?
Live in hope.
What efforts should be made to keep last season’s loan players and what likelihood do you think there is of Newcastle signing each of them this summer?
A no-brainer and now events have overtaken the question. 100%.
Taking him on a free would be a risk, with his injury record recently. 0%
Another 100%. Newcastle need to offer beyond their current transfer record and do it now.
Seven players (in order) that Newcastle definitely need to keep for next season?
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.
Smoke and mirrors as per normal.
No drive at the club to increase revenue streams. Ashley’s only plan is to bank the ticket money and Premier League TV money, plus whatever the shirt sponsor pays. The real loss was under £20m and a setback not a disaster as Ashley wants to portray it.
Plus of course down to him anyway why Newcastle were relegated again.
Does Mike Ashley really want Rafa Benitez to stay?
Yes and no.
He wants somebody with the ability to keep Newcastle in the Premier League on a minimum spend BUT not one who kicks up a fuss at being messed about and undermined.
A catch 22 really for the fat controller. He will just keep doing his thing and won’t really care either way, would bank £6m if Rafa chucked it.
What do you think would be the minimum needed to convince Rafa to at least stay for the final year of his contract?
I think he will bide his time no matter what happens, although if say a club like Tottenham lost Pochettino and came after Rafa, I’d be worried. Rafa hasn’t walked after being messed about for three transfer windows, so think he will stick it for another couple. Will get money to spend but no way Ashley will give what he wants/needs.
What do you think would be the minimum needed to convince Rafa to extend his contract this summer?
Full control over transfers and everything else at the club on the playing/training side. As well as a long-term commitment to new training ground and investment in the academy.
Best pieces of skill from Newcastle players last season, what is your top three (in order)?
Kenedy first goal v Southampton.
Merino shot that hit post v Everton.
Kenedy slalom dribble away at Leicester.
Where do you think Newcastle would have ended up in the Premier League if:
Hadn’t signed Dubravka and Kenedy in January?
I would say 80% chance of relegation and would have needed a lot of luck to have survived.
Had signed Dubravka but not Kenedy?
Had signed Kenedy but not Dubravka?
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?
A joke really.
Mike Ashley and his minions have repeatedly said that developing young players is a way for Newcastle to compete and likewise they said the new training complex would allow that as well. It says it all about Ashley that he has zero interest in helping Newcastle to be ambitious now, and in the future.
What do you make of everything that has happened at Sunderland and how do you think they will get on next season?
Nice but of Karma.
Lovely to hear how they think the six derby wins in a row bothers us every waking hour, whilst they are sinking ever faster to oblivion.
Of the current squad…
Definitely need to keep for next season?
Lascelles, Lejeune, Ritchie, Shelvey, Dummett, Yedlin, Gayle, Merino, Clark.
Don’t mind if they stay but if decent offer comes in then sell?
Perez, Murphy, Atsu, Hayden.
Need to be moved on?
Henri Saivet, Matz Sels, Achraf Lazaar, Jack Colback, Rolando Aarons, Chancel Mbemba, Rob Elliot, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Joselu, Manquillo.
If Newcastle stuck with exact same squad of 2017/18 (not including the loan players), what would happen in 2018/19?
Definitely bottom five and probably relegation, signing of Dubravka is a great start.
Player of the Season?
Mohamed Diame since December but Jamaal Lascelles overall.
Goal of the Season?
Kenedy chest and finish v Southampton.
Game of the Season?
West Ham away, otherwise would have been in relegation zone on Christmas Day and might have stayed there.
Biggest moment of the season?
Ritchie scoring v Man Utd, turning a creditable draw into massive three points.
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