An interesting article in The Times on Friday morning.
With it being written by George Caulkin, who covers Newcastle United for the national newspaper, it gives the piece extra credence. George is usually pretty much on the ball and not one for idle speculation.
Caulkin talks at length about Rafa’s frustrations this summer, particularly in the transfer market.
Having joined an all but already relegated Newcastle United only two months after leaving Real Madrid, he says the latest Mike Ashley nonsense ‘is not what was envisaged by Benitez’, particularly after the job the manager has done so far with minimal backing from the owner.
George Caulkin says that Rafa’s love and respect for the fans is genuine, not simply ‘belly-tickling’, I think most Newcastle supporters with a few years on the clock know the difference between the genuine ones and the chancers.
The likes of Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson stand out like beacons, with also the likes of Chris Hughton somebody who Newcastle supporters have total respect for.
There are one or two others who could be included in that respected grouping, whereas there are far too many obvious candidates you could list when it comes to chancers we have endured.
Like most Newcastle fans, the man from The Times understands why Rafa Benitez has no intention of staying unless there is significant changes in how the club is ran.
As for the nitty gritty of this current transfer window, Rafa Benitez has already made clear that he can’t bring in any more players unless he sells others and raises cash to buy replacements.
George Caulkin says that with Mitrovic soon to go, that will then allow the manager to at least bring in target Salomon Rondon. Indeed, despite the overall desperate negative picture he put forward this week, the Newcastle manager did say that he still was confident he would get a striker in – though he understandably didn’t put a name to who he expected that to be.
With only 20 days until transfer deadline day though, his report details that including the likely capture of Rondon, the United boss still desperately wants six more new players.
George says that it is unlikely he will get either the quantity or quality he wanted, with Rafa likely to still get some more new signings, but having to go down his list of options and unrealistic as things stand, that it will be anything like the full half dozen.
The picture George Caulkin has put forward is a realistic one, in terms of the kind of recruitment Rafa Benitez wants and indeed needs. The end of last season saw Newcastle with just about the ability to put together a full eleven players that were (to varying degrees) up to the job but beyond that there was next to nothing on the bench.
With Dubravka and Kenedy part of that team last May and with Ki Sung-yueng having replaced Mikel Merino in the squad, the bottom line is at best we have stood still and needing at least six more signings is realistically needed.
George Caulkin from The Times:
‘Benítez is not simply belly-tickling supporters. He loves his relationship with them, the honest spirit of the team he has built, the club’s stature and their city’s rhythms.
‘At the same time, trust has been chipped away and if Ashley will not listen to him, does not offer clarity, will not invest and will not sell up (the owner’s £400 million asking price is prohibitive), then why would he stay?’
On the transfer market:
‘With Aleksandar Mitrovic close to completing a £20 million move to Fulham, there is money to sign Salomón Rondón, of West Bromwich Albion, but Newcastle need more.
‘Benítez wants another five players — unlikely — but even though there will be additions, they will not be from the top of his list.
“If you don’t act quickly then you lose the opportunity and the next player is more difficult and the next maybe doesn’t have the same quality,” he said.
‘This is not what was envisaged by Benítez, the Champions League winner, the serial trophy-hoarder, the details man who came to Newcastle because he saw potential and the chance to mould a club…’