Newcastle fans still haven’t heard anything from Rafa Benitez but he was spotted, and photographed, arriving at St James Park on Tuesday afternoon.
Summer 2016 saw the United boss regularly updating supporters, reassuring them that despite a quiet opening to the transfer window, everything would turn out ok.
So it did, whilst numerous players left, Rafa Benitez recruited 12 new signings in that summer 2016 window and they helped Newcastle to go up champions.
After promotion we heard almost nothing from the NUFC manager throughout the summer, as the club failed to sign his targets, until late on at the training camp in Ireland he made his first mention of hoping Mike Ashley would be keeping his transfer promises.
They weren’t kept and so with minimal backing, it was largely down to Rafa’s managerial expertise that the team survived.
Fan hopes for better this summer are quickly fading, so far very reminiscent of 12 months ago. Rafa Benitez not saying a word so far and not a single new face signed, only Martin Dubravka committing from a loan to permanent.
A significant difference is that at this point last year, there were still over nine weeks of the summer 2017 transfer window remaining, whereas today we have exactly only six weeks.
Thursday morning sees the local media printing headlines in the aftermath of the manager’s meeting with Lee Charnley, ‘hoping for breakthrough’ they claim.
Those three words will be Rafa’s epitaph at St James Park.
On Wednesday the Chronicle revealed that the club still hadn’t made a single offer for any of the targets Rafa had given the NUFC hierarchy to pursue, despite ‘dozens of enquiries’ allegedly.
When it was reported early in the transfer window that Mike Ashley was refusing to give Benitez a transfer budget until he signed a contract extension, we all thought surely even Ashley can’t be that stupid…
With half the transfer window having passed, none of us can be quite so sure now.
Remember, this is the owner who after Newcastle had a breakthrough (partly a fluke) season finishing fifth, he only allowed one signing (Vurnon Anita) and that was paid for by selling a number of squad players.
Mike Ashley is also the NUFC owner who didn’t allow a single player to be bought for 18 months, between January 2013 and summer 2014.
Like Rafa Benitez we are all ‘hoping for breakthrough’ but with only four days until the squad are back for pre-season training, the first bid to be made for a new signing would look like a major breakthrough at this moment in time.