Cast your minds back to Rafa Benitez and the summer of 2016.

Rafa agreed to stay on as manager despite relegation and a major rebuilding job was needed to create a Newcastle United Championship squad.

There were a lot of players heading out and Rafa Benitez delivered a £40m net profit on transfers that summer.

However, Mike Ashley did allow the manager to get on with the job and spend around £50m to try and correct the disaster created by the owner and his minions.

There was a feeling that maybe the penny had dropped with Ashley and fans were given hope that finally Newcastle might at last have a situation whereby the owner was fully supporting the manager, both on the same page and pushing together in the same direction.

Throughout that summer of 2016 there were regular reassuring updates as Rafa Benitez quotes were constantly released by the club via local media. Only the surprise signing of a goalkeeper, Matz Sels, happened before we got into July 2016, so Rafa’s regular messages did play a key role in keeping the situation calm and avoid the kind of anxiety/hysteria there surely would have been if we’d had one of Ashley’s usual stooges in ‘charge’.

The transfer window turned out well, Rafa Benitez appeared to get pretty much most of what he had wanted with 12 signings, whilst Mike Ashley had seen a £40m net profit on sales/buys. Everybody happy, job’s a good un.

Last summer (2017) was a little different…

I picked up on this and on the 3 July 2017 put in an article (see below) to The Mag expressing my concerns.

Rafa Benitez had previously said that he would need to make a lot of changes to the squad if promotion was achieved, with a squad built to specifically get out of the Championship needing to be turned into one that could cope with the Premier League.

With only Christian Atsu signed before July 2017 anxiety levels were rising for Newcastle fans, this time though there were not many reassuring messages from Rafa Benitez, in fact there were none.

Having been willing to play ball the previous season and no doubt part of that to help ensure healthy season ticket sales, this time Rafa Benitez wasn’t going to play along.

In fact, it was two weeks into July when we at last heard (apart from quotes released by the club when the fixtures had come out in June) from Rafa Benitez (11 July 2017 – see below), with the players having been back in pre-season for a number of days, the manager gave us a neutral update on transfers. In fact it was pretty negative, considering how little progress there had been and with only a month until the new season, saying basically he hoped they could still get the players they needed.

A week later (17 July 2017 – see below) Rafa Benitez was over in Ireland for the pre-season training camp and finally opened up.

This was less than four weeks before the Premier League was going to kick off  and we had the first massive warning  bells going off, that Mike Ashley had reverted to type and Rafa Benitez was being undermined.

Rafa declaring:

“When I had the meeting with Mike Ashley (in May) I was confident that after that meeting we have the money available and the wages. Everything is in place to move forward. Hopefully, Mike Ashley can keep his word and we can do what we want to do.”

From that point on we did get regular updates from the manager but they were repeated messages from Rafa saying that he hoped ‘Mike Ashley can keep his word’, keep his ‘promises’, when it came to transfers.

As we all know, last summer was a disaster in the transfer window, Rafa Benitez admitting that he couldn’t even compete with Brighton and Huddersfield on transfer fees and wages.

Moving forward to the present day and this is sadly looking very much a rerun of summer 2017 rather than summer 2016.

Martin Dubravka is the only signing and that had to be done by the end of May or else the £4m fee would no longer apply.

There has been total silence from Rafa Benitez, no reassuring messages.

Instead, we have seen the Chronicle reveal that not a single bid has been made for a player.

Not even a single quote from Rafa when the fixtures came out last week, when this point was raised by a local journalist yesterday, Newcastle United’s ‘Head of Marketing communications’ responded with ‘We haven’t asked him (for quotes), the man deserves a holiday.’

Anybody who believes Rafa Benitez is lazing around 24/7 without a thought about Newcastle United, is a very strange person.

I assume he is watching every single World Cup match, rarely off his phone as he tries to make some kind of progress with transfers, and working every day.

I find it hard to believe as well that with the club pushing out the rises on all season ticket prices on the same day as the fixture release, that they wouldn’t have wanted Rafa Benitez to be quoted saying the fans are great etc etc and hope to get their full support again, to offset all the negative publicity brought on by the totally uncalled for ST price rises.

This summer seems to be very similar to that of a year ago, looking at a potentially disastrous transfer window and Rafa Benitez keeping his silence as he hopes Mike Ashley will belatedly see sense and support him.

I hope I am proved totally wrong and I will be looking with keen interest for when Rafa Benitez does finally speak AND what he has to say.

Even better if it is when he is standing next to some new exciting signings…but I am not holding my breath.

My article on The Mag – 3 July 2017:

It is now 54 days since a statement was released (on 10 May 2017) by Newcastle United, and even though it didn’t announce that ‘Rafa Benitez was staying’, that appeared to be the intended message.

Mike Ashley quoted saying ‘every last penny’ of money generated would be part of Rafa’s transfer budget, whilst the United boss was quoted in the same statement saying talks are positive about future plans etc etc.

A week after that news, Rafa Benitez was quoted by the Chronicle (see below) talking about this summer and the work to be done and so on.

I couldn’t remember reading much from Rafa after that and in fact I couldn’t remember anything at all…

So I went through all the articles on The Mag in the 47 days since those last Chronicle quotes and I could find nothing at all, so I looked elsewhere and still no updates or positive messages from the Newcastle Manager – strange.

In these 47 days, I did find Rafa Benitez quoted about the sad passing of Cheick Tiote.

There was also a well done message after Freddie Woodman and Adam Armstrong helped England win the Under 20s World Cup.

Then this weekend quotes from Rafa were included in a club statement on the appointment of Steve Nickson.

However, the only other thing I could find was that when the fixtures were announced, some Rafa quotes were included in the official club stuff just saying standard looking forward to it etc.

However, I can’t find anything about the transfer market and reassurance that everything  is in hand.

In contrast, a year ago (see below) I found numerous updates with Rafa talking about the transfer window and giving out messages to fans, happy to be interviewed by BBC Radio Newcastle and regular quotes sent out (by the club you imagine) to the Chronicle and other local papers, keeping things turning over and telling fans that things are ticking over.

I don’t see this summer’s near total silence as meaning sure fire disaster BUT it isn’t exactly good news is it.

I can’t believe that the club haven’t wanted to put out at least the odd update with Rafa Benitez telling fans that ‘progress is being made and so on, don’t worry we’ll sort it’. If nothing else, just to make sure that season ticket sales are kept flowing.

So to have nothing like that, you have to ask why?

I don’t want to go back to the days of pretty much daily updates from Alan Pardew but the absence of a happy medium is a concern.

Why the silence?

Hopefully we will hear from Rafa Benitez very soon as pre-season training starts today – 11 days until the first friendly at Hearts and 40 days until the Premier League kicks off.

The Mag 11 July 2017 – Rafa Benitez:

“We know where we are…it’s not ideal because everybody wants to see a lot of players signed already.

“But we have to keep working and trying to find the players we want.

“We can do nothing else.

“We have to find the players we want and hopefully we can do it.

 “It’s not easy for a lot of teams because the market is a bit crazy, we have to try to do our best.

“Obviously, the top sides have a lot of money.

“The other teams are spending some money but we will see if we can do our job.”

The Mag 17 July 2017 – Rafa Benitez:

“We are working very hard and trying to get as close as possible to some signings.

“When I had the meeting with Mike Ashley (in May) I was confident that after that meeting we have the money available and the wages.

“Everything is in place to move forward.

“Hopefully, Mike Ashley can keep his word and we can do what we want to do.”

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  • TheNutJob

    His requests for players are totally ignored & if it wasn`t for the clause in his contract he`d be away this summer. only the fans can drive Fatty out and they haven`t the mind to do so. he got short shrift from the lads over the border because they knew he`d poison their club, not so down here they just grin and bare it.

    • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

      You know this to be true?

    • TheNutJob

      whoever is below is blocked, so don`t waste your time answering my posts

      • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

        I can see yours, do you need to change your browser? If you manage to read my post, it will help you learn.

        Your posts appear to be unsubstantiated and lacking in facts.

      • Wezza147

        That’s the Fleckman trolls.

      • Big Hairy Man

        It’s Bobbi. I think he has a schoolgirl crush on Ashley. Bobbi luvs Blobby 4eva

        • Kneebotherm8


    • mactoon

      The difference at Rangers was there was an existing board fighting against him and the fans (as one) protested against his creaming off the club sales meaning the club only got 4p for every pound. In the end he sold his entire stake in the club for £2 million which is a bit different from here as the only board member is his yes man, the fans aren’t protesting and it would take up to £400 million to get rid of him.

    • Kneebotherm8

      He’s obviously learnt that he’s wasting his breath talking to the toon heirarchy……so he’s saying nowt…….fair plays to him..

    • Sickandtired

      We’ll get no one until after June 30th so the wages don’t affect the accounts. Coaching a squad for the new season means nowt to Fatty. We’ll likely already have started before we get anyone in the door.

  • Billmag

    That’s another post I am having reviewed by Discus no swear words it wasn’t a lengthy post, some poster’s on hear get away with anything, why is it you don’t get a reply as to why you are being reviewed. Here’s me thinking it was a sensible post questioning as to how West Ham can pay £22ml for a defender and we can’t.

    • Peaky

      Disqus are now telling me and this is a new one that my posts are been detected as spam ????

      • mactoon

        Just click on the link to say “This isn’t spam” and they will post it. Another problem is if you put a link in it?

        • Peaky

          Cheers…will give it a go.

      • Billmag

        It’s ridiculous Peaky it just makes you less interested in posting.👎👎

  • East Durham Mag

    What is the point of Rafa Benitez giving statements and updates of his targets when everything he hopes and strives for is undermined by the Fat Oaf and his flying monkey’s?

    • Kneebotherm8


      • East Durham Mag

        Oh yeah “the board” in the singular. 🤦‍♂️

        • Kneebotherm8

          The board……or plank……

  • mactoon

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Ashley has instructed Charnley to sit on his hands until Rafa signs the new deal. Rafa hasn’t issued any updates because there is nothing to say.

    • Kneebotherm8

      He don’t need instructions to sit on his hands……it comes natural to him…🤓🤓🤓

  • Desree

    I woke up this morning to Sonny and Cher on the radio. It was snowing outside and I was staying in a BnB waiting to see the groundhog

    • Rich Lawson

      Have you started the piano lessons yet ?

      • TheFatController

        You’ll avoid that stepping into that puddle in a few days…

  • Rich Lawson

    I don’t think Rafa’ will say another word until the money is on the table,what more is to be said,can we buy anyone or not Ashley ?

  • TheFatController

    £120m debt, manager likely to walk in next 12 months, no weak PL sides likely in this summer transfer market.

    But season ticket sales being healthy is one positive so that’s good. Guaranteed to ally any relegation fears …

    • Sickandtired

      £120 mil? The ‘debt’ was raised to £144 mil after Ashley’s Dec 2016 loan from St James Holding (£33 mil) of which £18 immediately went back to himself.