We have had 28 months of Rafa Benitez at Newcastle United.
Having left Real Madrid only weeks earlier, the Spaniard could see the potential that existed at St James Park, despite relegation looking all but certain.
Mike Ashley had left it far too late to appoint a manager, having put yet another puppet in Steve McClaren in place, after Pardew and Caver.
Even Rafa couldn’t save the team despite three wins and three draws in final half dozen matches.
However, since then:
Promotion as Champions after totally overhauling the squad, as the rats fled and players not good enough cleared out.
Safety achieved with over a month to go and a top half of the Premier League table finish.
A profit in the transfer market.
Rafa Benitez has opened up to the media today about Newcastle United’s farcical approach to transfers under Mike Ashley this summer.
Having already told Sky Sports that he has to sell before he can buy players this summer, Rafa as now talked to Matthew Raisbeck of BBC Newcastle.
The NUFC manager explaining that due to not moving quickly enough to land their top targets, you end up with players who ‘maybe aren’t as good’.’
Rafa Benitez adding that you then have to go ‘deeper and deeper’ down your list of targets, having missed out on first choice, second choice…
This is a total joke and only Mike Ashley is laughing.
Matthew Raisbeck from BBC Newcastle talking to Rafa Benitez:
Rafa on signings:
“It depends on the movements; we’ll see how quick the others can go.
“Always in the window, you have to do things quickly; if not, you’re losing targets & then you go later on to players who maybe aren’t as good as you’re expecting in different positions.”
More from Rafa on transfers:
“If you go early, you can sign the first or second choice. If not, you go deeper and deeper (down the list of targets). We will try to sign the right players with the characteristics that we will need for the games.
“The fans need to understand these players here are giving everything, so we have to support them.
“We cannot say ‘oh, he is not good enough’ because, sometimes, you cannot sign the players you want but the players that are good for you and the squad.”
Rafa on transfers:
“We have some enquiries about some of our players and Lee Charnley is working on that. We will see if we have any news in the next few days. Obviously, we need to move players if we want to have money to spend on players.”
That last line – essentially, ‘we have to sell to buy’ – doesn’t make great reading. Rafa only has a modest budget, so needs to bring money in by moving on fringe players, and in doing so, reduce the wage bill to accommodate the salaries of potential new signings.
Rafa on Isaac Hayden:
“We will try to help him because he said he has personal problems… At the same time, I have to protect the team and the club. We will see if we can find the best solution possible but we want to keep him because he’s an important player for us.”
Rafa on being short of central midfielders if Hayden was to leave:
“Yes, but not thinking too much about that. We have to think about him and his situation, and if we can help. I told already him he can take extra days off, so it’s not an issue.”
More from Rafa on Isaac Hayden:
“It’s just to manage and be sure he has the motivation we need from everyone. When we signed him, he was at Hull, so we gave him the opportunity to stay in the Premier League, and we are trying to support him now.”
Rafa on tonight’s match:
“We have two or three injury problems we have to manage: Dummett will not be available and Murphy, the same – little things that we don’t want to take any risk with. We have five ‘keepers, so we will play two and three will be waiting.”
Rafa on young players Fernandez, Yarney, Longstaff and Roberts:
“All of them will play because the idea is for almost everyone to play 45 minutes.”