Rafa Benitez has four weeks to prepare for that first game of the season against Tottenham.

Currently training in Ireland ahead of the first friendly of pre-season on Tuesday, the manager is under no illusions as to how much work is still needed.

As well working with the players he has already got, the fact the transfer window closes in 26 days time is ever more preying on his mind.

When talking about where exactly his  squad is now in terms of strength, Rafa Benitez points out that Newcastle at this point are just ‘more or less where they were at the end of last season.

Dubravka’s loan has become a permanent deal, whilst Kenedy is here on another loan arrangement with once again no buying clause/option.

Squad players Gamez and Haidara have been released, whilst the only other change has seen the promise of 22 year old Mikel Merino sold for £10m, and replaced with the experience of 29 year old free transfer Ki Sung-yueng.

I think at best you could say the squad is similar strength to end of last season but in reality, probably slightly weaker as you could have expected Merino to kick on from a first season in the Premier League.

No surprises where Rafa Benitez is desperate to strengthen in these remaining weeks of the window, when asked.

The manager says that as a minimum he needs ‘two or three more offensive players’, as well as ‘a back up in defence, or to improve the defence a little bit.’

Starting with his second point, with Gamez and Haidara leaving, plus Mbemba set to follow them, clearly at least one new signing is needed.

With Lejeune and Lascelles, Newcastle already have two big centre-backs, so the ideal new signing is probably a similar player to Ciaran Clark, in terms of being versatile and being able to play in the middle of the defence and at full-back. Interesting that Rafa does indicate that it isn’t necessarily just a back up that he wants, but potentially somebody who could come in and be in the first eleven.

The big emphasis though for Rafa Benitez, as it is for the fans, is players at the other end of the pitch.

Kenedy is a massive signing but that doesn’t take away from the fact that two new strikers, or a forward and a number 10, are essential.

When your top scorer ends the season on eight goals you know there are major problems.

As for a third new offensive player, there does indeed appear to be substance in Rafa wanting to bring in Andros Townsend. The Palace winger and Matt Ritchie are very different but certainly in terms of goal threat at Premier League level, you would have to say Townsend will give you more.

The big question of course is just how much, or how little, support Rafa Benitez has got from Mike Ashley.

Ashley is currently in profit on summer transfers and Mitrovic and Mbemba are set to bring in £25m+, as well as other players leaving, including potentially Ritchie for around the £15m mark.

That would put Rafa Benitez in credit to the tune of around £45m and so surely the manager has to be back with those three first team offensive signings and another defensive option, as a bare minimum.

Benitez has already pointed out that every club is spending money this summer and so if Newcastle don’t significantly strengthen their squad, they will be as they were at the end of last season, which essentially means going backwards if everybody else around Newcastle improves.

For supporters and manager it is very much black and white in terms of what needs to be done but will Mike Ashley see it that way?

Rafa Benitez:

“We have to improve the team and that means improve the squad.

“At the moment we have the same players (as at the end of last season), more or less, that we had before.

“We are in that starting position again (at the moment).

“There are (other) positions that we have to improve, not just a striker.

“Two or three more offensive players, also need a back up in defence, or to improve the defence a little bit.”

  • ghostrider

    26 days left after a world cup. No panic yet.

    If he doesn’t extend his contract and Ashley isn’t sure on staying on at the club, then I can’t see too many players being bought…but I can see like for like in and out deals that basically pay for themselves.

    It’s pointless doing any other until people start making their intentions clear about the longer term ideal for the club.

    Until someone does, we tick along.
    Not ideal is it?

    • JonMag

      F##king idiot

    • Ram Kishore

      If Mitro and mbemba sale gets confirmed.. i think we will be having enough money to buy 3 players worth a total transfer fee of £40 million and possibly additional player with further outgoings like Colback, Lazaar, Sels

    • TheFatController

      Ashley is staying on. He’s been selling for years, people who want to sell, sell. People who don’t say that they can’t find a buyer.

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    We need a full back, attacking midfield player and a striker but it would have helped a lot if Rafa had signed a new contract that is for sure.

    • Ram Kishore

      Maybe if three signings of Rafa’s priority comes before the end of the window .. he may sign a contract..

      Trust works both ways too Monk..
      Both Rafa and our ownership/admin has to take the blame

    • JonMag

      it would help even more if the Fat Scumbag gave the manager a budget
      you simpleton

    • Wor Lass

      Rafa`s got a contract – he just needs that honouring and there shouldn`t be a problem.

      • JonMag

        there`s always a problem

    • Desree

      Mike Ashley’s Gestapo trying to convince us that this is how you run a football club.

    • Billmag

      Do you honestly think Rafa doesn’t know that your hero has a history of broken promises, c’mon nobody can blame Rafa for not signing an extension to his contact unless he is shown ambition, Ashley has shown little interest in the club he owns other than to block any progression and keep it as an advertisement for his SD rubbish.

    • I’ve got the Ki

      Signing a new contract would not have released any more funding for Rafa. That’s a ruse also.

      Might be a couple more cheap / loan players but I can’t see much more than that. Unless we have some really big outgoings of course, then we’ll reinvest some of that money in slightly worse players.

      • TheFatController

        Yeah, Rafa didn’t ask for future money before signing a new contract, he asked to see trust by spending whilst he’s on his current contract.

        He knows how Ashley works. Make fools of people on the way to getting what you want.

    • TheFatController

      Why would he? He leaves in 10 months…maybe to a properly run club?

      • Kneebotherm8

        Any club will be run more properly than this club…

    • SuperDesHamilton

      Would you sign to work for a boss that had been called dishonest in the House of Commons

    • SuperDesHamilton

      You tongue punch Ashley’s fart box so you’d love that

  • Wezza

    I doubt very much that we will be buying anyone. Kenedy was the token signing to ‘keep us happy’.
    The clubs message was that we were broke with the conveniently late accounts, conveniently again released on transfer window opening day. The club sure do like coincidences!
    The TV money is gone, the excuse that the championship season cost us 112M in wages – which is false. The excuse put in so Ashley could get his hands on the TV money. He said so himself he doesn’t care anymore. He is in full on spite mode now.
    Our only hope is he sells up which doesn’t look on the cards provided he is raking it in.

    • Kneebotherm8

      He’s here for the next decade at least…….this club fits in very well with his money making business conglomerate..

  • Lostprofit DBC

    Rafa sees it as the fans do and he is spot on. I only hope that the imminent deals, that supposed to be in the pipeline come off. Otherwise the hard start, plus Rafa’s discontent, could be our downfall. At this point though, I am confident, keep the faith!

  • jack

    Rafa your flogging a dead horse mate , there is no money to sign players

  • Nut

    Well we managed to hold onto Mitrovic and he is like a new signing even though Rafa doesn’t really wish to play him 😂

    I really wish we could get these players moved on so we can start to see some action but I fear it won’t happen until late in the window leaving little time to bring in replacements.

    • Mike Adam

      Kennedy and maybe Townsend on the wings, Shelvey controlling things in the middle, sign a quality #10 then maybe Mitro in the box as our target man looks pretty darn good. According to the experts on here we aren’t going to sign anyone anyway, just a thought to go along with your “Mitro as a new signing” comment. I for one am trying to stay positive.

      • Angelswithdirtyfaces

        That would be fine if Mitro fitted Rafa’s approach to the game. He just doesn’t and there is no way Rafa will adapt the team to suit Mitro – even if he was a £100m forward

  • Paul Patterson

    ‘Ashley is currently in profit on summer transfers’
    Did we expect anything less?

  • Rich Lawson

    Think your a bit optimistic about Mitro’ and Mbemba bringing in £25mil,Fulham are paying good money for players already but Mitro’ doesn’t seem to be a priority signing.They are either scared off by the price quoted or playing it out to the end of the window for a cut price deal ?

    • Kazie

      £18 million minimum for Mitro and around £7 million for Mbemba but we’ll need a back up defender before we sell him.. Preferably a left back.

  • Ba ba.

    Nothing will change and rafa will leave at the end of the season unless fatfac sells up or dies.. . Its as simple as that.

  • Foggy

    Anybody got a realistic suggestion for a striker that they would be happy with? I’ve seen the names bandied around but I’ve yet to hear of one that gets me excited. Admittedly, I don’t know much about the non premier league players that’s if I even recognize the name.

    • Kazie

      We should go for Moussa Dembélé from Celtic or Tammy Abraham…

      • Angelswithdirtyfaces

        I seem to remember us being associated with Virgil a few years back when he was a good deal going begging. We missed out there due to Fatty’s stupidity. Celtic try to keep a team competitive at European level, so Moussa is well above Scottish Prem level. No way will Fatty sanction a £12-13m signing as Spuds are rumoured to want him at that valuation. He might try a cheeky £7m though

  • Kazie

    We need a back up left back, an attacking mid like Ruben loftus cheek and a striker that will score 10-15 goals… Someone like Moussa Dembélé or go in for Tammy Abraham.

  • Kazie

    Newcastle has so much potential to get a top 8 finish and challenge for a cup.. All we need is a proven striker a playmaker and another full back and then we can have a decent season.

  • Angelswithdirtyfaces

    I doubt whether Rafa ever used the phrase “I am desperate” in any way regarding negotiations with Fatty. He is certainly P’d off at the lack of ambition to even stay in the Prem, but even a relegation campaign in 2019 isn’t going to get Fatty to change his MO

  • Desree

    I have read some people arguing that signings are happening and that Charnley moves stealthily. Did Lejeunes transfer drag out 5 or 6 weeks?