These are desperate times at Newcastle United.

As usual under Mike Ashley, you don’t need a full handful of fingers to count the positives at the moment.

In fact you only need two fingers for Mike Ashley and the disaster he is dragging NUFC inevitably towards.

The two fingers you require to count the positives for are: Rafa Benitez and the fans.

The way things are looking, Newcastle are heading into a surefire relegation fight once again. A relegation fight we would almost certain to lose, if not for the presence of the manager.

As for the fans, despite Mike Ashley doing everything he can (no transfer budget given to Rafa, forced to sell before he can buy, rise in season ticket prices, most expensive replica shirts in Premier League, treatment of the manager), St James Park will no doubt have 50,000 or so fans in every home match, despite falling season ticket sales, giving their support to both manager and players – even if not the owner.

However, it is impossible to dress up our current situation as utter desperation, rather than progression.

Despite this, you still see some Newcastle fans who not only see their NUFC glass as half full, they actually believe it is overflowing.

We all understand the wanting to be positive ahead of a new season but you have to be realistic.

The transfer signings that Rafa Benitez is making, are 100% an attempt at damage limitation, rather than anything to celebrate.

Yes, of course we will get fully behind anybody who does end signing for our mental club, as always. We won’t write them off because they are free or cost pennies in this new world of every club outspending us, even many in the Championship.

However, you have to accept that Dubravka and Kenedy apart, the other signings are all a case of Rafa getting what he can get, with the limited funds available. Even Kenedy is just a loan deal with zero chance of signing him at the end of it if he proves decent once again, absolutely no foundations being put down for the future.

Rafa Benitez himself has said that he is having to go way down his preferred list of targets for every position, not first or second choice, not even close.

We lose 22 year old Mikel Merino for £10m, a player who suggested early last season he has the potential to be a top player. We have replaced him with 29 year old free transfer Ki Sung-yueng from relegated Swansea. Bottom line is he isn’t a star Premier League player and hasn’t even being an automatic regular at a poor Swansea side, starting 55 times in the last three seasons in the Premier League and named on the bench 27 times. This doesn’t mean he is rubbish but on the other hand I don’t hear any fan thinking he should be an automatic starter even in our very weak squad.

Last season’s 10th place and Premier League safety was very welcome but it was a relegation struggle for the previous eight months, including a run of one point from nine matches. The top half position was a nice reward for manager, players, and fans, but you also have to accept that on the final day of the season, if results had gone wrong then Newcastle could have finished as low as 15th. The 44 points Newcastle finished with, was the lowest ever total to get a top half position since the Premier League started.

With pretty much every other club that finished around us spending tens of millions, and the three promoted clubs doing the same, you can only surely believe the odds are shifting against us. That doesn’t mean you can’t beat the odds, as Rafa did last season, but this summer it is the equivalent of Mike Ashley chopping off another limb, to further handicap our chances of ‘success’, which yet again looks to equal staying up.

I see other likely signings Newcastle appear set to make.

Fabian Schar is seemingly set to sign for around £3.5m, once again some super positive Newcastle fans want to see this as a stroke of genius from Rafa Benitez.

He looks a decent signing in terms of value for money (cheap!) but he isn’t improving out first team. Since leaving Switzerland he joined Hoffenheim for only £3m and started only 23 Bundesliga matches in two years.

Schar then signed for poor to average La Liga club Deportivo for a similar amount last summer and struggled for a game at times (started 25 games, 9 on bench) for a club who were relegated and conceded more goals than anybody else in the Spanish top tier. Once again, this doesn’t mean we write him off but he is what he is, I don’t see a host of top clubs vying for him this summer, or indeed when he joined both Hoffenheim and Deportivo for £3m or so each time.

Yes I know he played at the World Cup but the Swiss did concede in all three games he played including two against Costa Rica, plus playing at the World Cup doesn’t automatically equal a player who will be brilliant in the Premier League, otherwise we could just have signed the whole Panama squad…please, nobody suggest this to Mike Ashley!

Salomon Rondon is another, if he comes we are getting a striker who turns 29 in September and has scored 24 PL goals in the past three seasons, plus I don’t see a queue of other clubs for him either.

Relegation appears to be a constant theme with our transfer targets, trying to pick up players from struggling teams who other clubs aren’t falling over themselves to buy.

Thursday morning sees Yoshinora Muto supposedly on his way to Tyneside. Mainz were almost relegated last season and stayed up in 14th (of 18) spot, with Muto starting 20 of the 34 league games. He has started 30 Bundesliga matches the last two years and  in the same time been named on the bench 20 times, so again, we have to be realistic about who we are signing here, and not expect him to be the total answer to our poor goalscoring of last season.

We all hoped and expected that this summer would see Rafa Benitez to be backed on progressing and moving away from being relegation battlers, attempt to try and start bridging the gap with those in the top six, it might be far in the future but you need a starting point.

Instead, it is more bargain shopping for Rafa Benitez in an attempt to swerve relegation once again, plus bringing in generally older players with no potential of showing big improvement in seasons to come.

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  • Leicester Mag

    The only way the glass would be overflowing is if the FB missed the fireplace when trying to p!** on it

    • Ron

      I like the idea of the fireplace he’s usually aiming at us!

  • ghostrider

    The only desperation at Newcastle is that which certain fans seem to want to make.
    This football team/squad assembly is far from relegation fodder.
    It is top 10 as a minimum as it stands right now, never mind what we bring in…..if….I say “IF” coached properly to play football through the entire season rather than cautious depressive football for half of it until Kenedy helped change it..

    Now we have him for a full season, so hopefully Rafa will continue where he left off, allowing him and others to show their true potential in their preferred positions.

    People would be better concentrating on supporting the club and being a fan of the team/squad that goes out on that pitch rather than bemoan the quality of them…as if we are entitled to the elite spoils of ready made top quality at whatever prices are bandied about in this sick world of football.

    I’m more than happy to go with what we;re getting. If anything I’m not happy with Rafa’s constant moaning…but it is what it is and I’ll simply back the teams he puts out whilst he’s in charge of them….just as I will for any player pulling on that shirt and giving their best.

    • pedrodelgardo

      “Top ten minimum” does that statement account for the investments made by the clubs we are competing with, you have deep insider knowledge of their prospects? Thought not.

      • ghostrider

        What investments are we competing with that are better than what we are doing?
        If anything I’d say we are the best investors…unless you’re looking at investing in a different way.
        Let me know.

  • Clarko

    If we bring in Rondón (for Gayle), Muto (for Mitrović), Schär and Bryan before the window shuts would you be happy?

    • Lewis SG

      Doubt the majority will he happy knowing that we have been outspent by every other club and knowing we have TV money that is not converted into higher priced signings.

      I’ll be contented as usual.

    • Billmag

      We are beggars in the world of high finance with an owner that treats us like peasants would I be happy under them circumstances not really but what will be will be.

    • I’ve got the Ki

      Interested to know if you would be, Clarkmeister?

      • Clarko

        No, absolutley not.

        • I’ve got the Ki

          Pretty emphatic. What are your main concerns? Would you elaborate please?

          • Clarko

            I was concerned a few weeks back that Ashley wouldn’t allow Benitez to spend the funds that are very much available, I think it’s now apparent that those concerns are very much real so it goes back to happiness, would I be happy if we brought in Rondón, Muto, Schär (confirmed) and Bryan before the window shuts? No, we would be around £60m short of me being happy with the business done in this window.

          • I’ve got the Ki

            Thanks. Fair points.

  • Superdooperhooper

    Bargain shopping ? More like skip diving for all the rubbish no-one else wants . What an embarrassment

  • nufc

    You can be sure Rafa knew well about Ricarlasson before he joined Watford last season for 11 million he was out of of reach at 11 million his wages were to high yet he will gladly spend 10-12 million on Murphy from the championship on low wages 12 months on and Everton are paying 50 million for an 11 million outlay by Watford no wonder nufc are losing money season after season. Everyone me inculded was hoping, wishing and praying Ashley would be long gone this summer but no he is here to kill this club by hook or by crook.

  • seewhy

    If The Mag wants to make a real difference, it really needs to up its game. There are plenty of excellent points waiting to be made yet articles like this – full of contradictions – don’t help the cause. It slags off the purchase of Schar for £3.5m on the basis of 23 Bundesliga starts, and criticises the sale of Merino for £10m (8 Bundesliga starts and 17 Prem league starts over the same period.)
    As for Muto, a goal every 3 games in the Bundesliga is not a bad return; twice as good as Gayle’s one in six last year.
    Of course, neither are the answer for us – but, please, be even-handed in the logic behind your critique.

    • Toon

      The Mag is full of clueless season ticket holders who cry over everything and write total rubbish based on very little knowledge, it’s a common theme

  • HarryHype59

    Looking objectively, it is hard to disagree with the key points the author makes.

  • FatParosite

    Quicker way of looking at it.

    Ki Sung-yueng = Moreno
    Fabian Schar = Manquillo
    Yoshinora Muto = joselu

    Not pushing the quality quota are we?

  • Come&TakeIt1836

    “However, it is impossible to dress up our current situation as utter desperation”… but you felt it necessary to try the impossible.

    Sure, the quality could be better than it is (it always can be even if you are Man City) but there can be no rational argument that we are even as poor as we started last season much less worse. There is progression.

  • FatParosite

    This really is Billy Bean stuff in everything short of competing with anyone.

    • MichaelMaximusMoose

      Rafaball in full throttle mode

  • Taz

    😞 I have no words

  • 501ninedarter

    Schar is a decent player and a better squad fit than Mbemba, I see Man U have been quoted £65m for Maguire…is he 20 times better than Schar?
    Would you lot be jumping in the air if we signed Maguire simply because he cost £65m?
    Yes I would love to see a £50 million striker arrive it ain’t going to happen but we won’t be going down this season pretty sure of that.

    • MichaelMaximusMoose

      Why on earth would we want to sign Maguire, we have Lascelles.
      So how many times have you seen Shar play & why was no other club interested is such a bargain.

    • panther

      im not

      • JEz_Brizzle

        I’m not happy about all this either, but on a glass half full angle (hard to do), when Dubravka and Kenedy came in last year, the whole team performed incredibly well – took us from the pits of misery to not worrying about the last game of the season – something I thonk we all thought was inevitable.
        So perhaps it’s not all doom and gloom….. caviat though – team has to stay fit !

    • Jonathan Gibson

      Well said…

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    It`s not desperation, it`s a cool, calculated plan of the Robber Baron asset stripping

  • robbersdog

    What a depressing article; and sadly, it’s 100% accurate.

    We’ve been invited to a glittering ball, but we’re buying our outfit at a flea market. But hey, we’re NUFC, so we’re still the coolest paupers in the Prem.

  • pedrodelgardo

    Write a player off before he’s kicked a baal then claim you are not writing anybody off?
    The sums of money involved are not a direct indication of how good a player is, how about “let’s see what he’s like” the transfer fee size is more of a reflection of the time left on his contract and the more you spend the less risk you are taking – I will judge him after i’ve seen him a few times in a black and white shirt.

    • Jonathan Gibson

      Well said..

  • Jonathan Gibson

    Since january when a settled team was identified by rafa after months of inability to second guess his selections, that run to the end of season accrued points that would see newcastle finish 7th. The players released / sold to date contributed nothing to that team from january to end of season. We have secured key elements of that team (dubravka/kennedy) and have added another 3 fully fledged international players to the squad. The biggest change will be near the end of the window when mitro moves and replacement comes in. Confident we can progress on last season. Ashley banter is a waste of typing, nowts going to change, unless there is a kitty for a hitman (another one)

  • Leazes.

    Simon son…..(You are not Jane Clarke, never in a million years) you talk about some fans with their glasses overflowing….they are trolls who are trying to bend the politics of the chronicle and the Mag……they are not United fans….they have been successful in making the chronicle think they are a large faction…. its two people!

    You said …..’ some super positive Newcastle fans want to see this as a stroke of genius from Rafa Benitez’.

    Well tell me simon, their political stance isn’t a million miles from yours, you even publish articles by them, they are damaging detractors, and I know impossible to stop but you could try by not acknowledging them…..

    Its damaging to the club and they have done huge damage over the decade.

    They are David and Kevin Lee.

    I challenge you to get your service provider to block the IP address of there two.

  • Foggy

    Everybody keeps saying we are down to the dregs. You know, I’d really like to know who were Rafa’s top 5 so I know what I’m missing our on.