Going in to an offseason with momentum generated on the back of an excellent season, can bring its own set of pitfalls. Such a case study can be exclusively filed and boxed in the name of Newcastle United under the ownership of Mike Ashley.

One would have thought that last summer was a one-off where Rafa was forced to shop for 5-7 million pound players, which in this day and age at best can get you championship grade players or damaged goods.

Gone are the days where you could discover and acquire gems like Cabaye, Cisse, Tiote for single digits(millions). Selling clubs/Agents nowadays are quick to use the media to launch its own PR machine to create a bidding war or just alert teams to its players, whom they didn’t scout in the first place.

Therefore, recent times have seen Newcastle United’s good scouting efforts go to waste while losing out to clubs such as Spurs and Everton who stepped in with competitive offers. Getting a targeted player like Lejeune, despite the long protracted discussions, was an exception, as the player had his mind set on playing for Rafa and Newcastle as no other team was prepared to take the gamble on him at the time.

If this summer is any indication, Ashley has pretty much enforced the same operating parameters where Rafa has been given just about the same budget. It appears the club will use funds to write off the bad contracts it has budgeted for in the last set of accounts. One can only hope that Rafa is not compelled again into taking on the so-called damaged goods such as Joselu or Manquillo in the hope that he can revive them into useful assets. ‘dI rather he just left that money in the bank or use most of it on a real good talent, even if that means using his 40 million budget on just two players if he has to, Kenedy being one such example. To make the most of that restricted budget, free agents and/or loans are crucial given the circumstances.

The Merino saga bought in an undesired outcome. I would rather be thankful that he came in and did a job during in the initial stages of the season playing an important part in victories over Palace, Stoke, Swansea and West Ham. If there is a tinge of disappointment it is that the club wasn’t street smart while setting up his contract, having agreed to a low release clause, the club should have protected itself by countering what were to happen if the player were to be an instant success and another club picked him off. The Club will need to look at this in the future. Charnley had in fact gone on record stating that the club would never ever put itself in a position like they did with Townsend but Rafa on this occasion was forced to accept that in Merino’s case, as he was desperate to sign decent talent on the budget he was afforded. No guesses on whose doorstep the blame gets placed on.

While set to lose Merino, the club somehow put a decent positive spin on it by moving in quickly to sign Ki Sung-Yueng. The reaction to it has been somewhat understandably mixed but I like the signing. He’s got tons of experience in the PL, was an integral part of a good Swansea team that played the game in the right way and  it’s a free transfer so taking away his signing bonus / agent’s fees; a substantial amount of the Merino money still stays in the bank. Rafa’s budget after signing both Dubravka and Ki allows him to make a play for two seriously good talents. He could still play smart in taking a chance at a former French Prodigy Clement Grenier who at 3 mill euro tag comes as a low risk high reward option and would slot in perfectly as a #10. Grenier has a fantastic delivery, can thread through a defence with a pass and a nose for goal. I can easily see him playing that false #10 role, where Pardew used Cabaye in 2013-14.

The Stefano Sturaro link is a bit of an odd one but has to be given attention as it seems to have a lot of credence to it. One would ask why bring on a defensive (left sided) midfielder when we already have Diame who slotted in and adjusted to that role seamlessly. But trying to see it from Rafa’s perspective, I can understand why. Sturaro would bring in a Champions mentality being part of the winning culture at Juventus. He is a physical, fast and tenacious player that as a Coach you would use on the opposition’s star player in order to suffocate the life out of him. Stefano would amp up the competitiveness in the team and spice up training sessions. He is a mix of a Tiote on the tackle and Sissoko on the lung bursting attacking runs. Worth keeping an eye on this one as it develops.

If Stefano gets taken at 15 mill then I would hope that Rafa throw the balance of his budget at Kenedy. For what he achieved during loan with us, I would still consider it as a scratch of what his actual potential is. It was obvious what he brings to the team when he is put in the right positions. The goals /assists against Southampton and Leicester came from central positions. Maybe Rafa won’t consider him for #10 role just yet but ultimately that would and should be his position as someone who can play in a free role behind the main striker who can run at defences and create chaos. Reports suggest that Chelsea are asking for 25 mill, it’s time for Charnley to study up how contracts proposals are done.

As much as I have got some love for Mitro, I have to admit his conversion, tactical and work rate doesn’t fit into the Rafa playbook, not to mention the disciplinary record. Another factor to weigh in, whether he sees it any different when he wants the team managing or closing the game better in the closing stages. As in Mitro is a player that thrives a lot off good crosses. He doesn’t make those off ball runs or drop off wide in the box to link up with the wingers. As often you see nowadays, in the last ten minutes or so teams trying to protect a lead more often refrain from crossing the ball and prefer to keep possession which in turn requires more leg work from its forward(s). Having said that, I would like Rafa to give Mitro a final chance if he cannot be sold for an amount to fund the purchase of a good forward.

And for the ending, some thoughts on the owner Mike Ashley.

Over the last 10 years, I have tried to give you the benefit of the doubt, whether it’s a byproduct of bad timing or trusting the wrong people. I even convinced myself that as an entrepreneur I could see it from your perspective as to why you wanted the club to be self-sustainable and be run as a responsible business that didn’t spend beyond its means. As for trusting the wrong people, that’s on you.

There is no justifying trusting a steward who worked at Chelsea over a club legend as Kevin Keegan. As for not backing a World Class Manager like Rafa by giving him the extra money to spend?

Here’s a small example from my own experience as an entrepreneur….ten years ago after working for a while, I decided to open a business around something I loved – that’s food and drink. I was passionate about it but reality is I knew nothing about the restaurant business, therefore I made mistakes and to cover for them I rightly so had to put in my own money to keep it running until I got tired and fed up saying that’s it, let it run the way it is. Until a talented chef looking for a new challenge stumbled into my lap. He told me to close the restaurant down, change the concept and launch a new menu using a unique attraction at the time called Steak cooked on a Volcanic Stone. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, I had maxed on out my investments and bank funding but I believed in my Chef and his plan. I took the risk with a mortgage on my house knowing it would sink me deeper if it didn’t work out and placed an order for the stones. The place opened up and the stones turned out to be a money spinner. We ultimately got well known as a steakhouse and after some years I opened a second restaurant. I could have just let the business run the way it was and the talented chef would have left, saying there was nothing worth for him striving to achieve.

When you could have spent 15 million on Lacazette you spent 5m on Riviere and when the time came to be ambitious, you trusted McClaren with the job. And now you have thrown the burden to bear on Rafa whom you feel will stay on due to the love and adoration of the Newcastle Utd Fan base.

The lack of investment in the Academy and staff, whether commercial or administrative, just goes to show why you bought the club in the first place. Have a bit of fun in the stands while you were at it, run the club on the cheap and sell it for a profit like you have always done. But be Careful Ashley, you don’t want to imagine what will hit you when Rafa walks away, this will be the end of your reign and unfortunately of the very existence of the club, if you so choose to take your next and most dangerous gamble yet.

You can follow the author on Twitter @BobbyGoa

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  • Garry Norman

    Stopped reading when you said gone are the days of signing good players for single digits……Dubravka?

    • bobby martins

      The reference is to those days when you could go to France and get a player like Cabaye for 5mill without other clubs getting a sniff and how they have wisen up. Dubravka is fantastic signing and exception but then there lies the issue where Ashley expects Rafa to keep pulling rabbits out of his backside

      • Leazes.

        A necessary signing as we didn’t have a premiership level keeper at the time Elliott fills everyone with dread and the others are reflected in their market values for a reason.but Dubravka well…..he’s still just an average keeper

      • Nart

        What about Merino and Lejeune, guess they are also exceptions?!

        • bobby martins

          Ofcourse already mentioned Lejune as an exception if you read that line. While Merino even though for a small fee came with a rider of a low release clause. And don’t tell me without the benefit of hindsight you would have been asking me the question at the time if these two were Joselu and manquilo, who were also bought in the same window. The issue is Ashley is making Rafa shop for bargains and for players who aren’t his first choices.

          • Nart

            You had just stated that Dubravka was an exception, so I wanted to point out 2 more “exceptions”…

            You’re right that Rafa is unfortunately having to go for players who aren’t his first choices (Slimani, Joselu) but I think it would be incorrect to say that Lejeune and Merino weren’t first choices.

    • TheFatController

      Let’s not put too much pressure on Dubravka. I can’t think of a keeper that hasn’t had a god four month spell – only to then dip, come back etc – look at joe Hart, once Man City and England number one apparently for years to come…the he got dandruff or whatever.

      Dubravka seems a sensible guy, but he’ll know better than anyone how quick good form can turn for keepers.

  • porciestreet

    Ashley is a complete 4r5eh01e.
    Nuff said.

  • Wezza

    Enjoyed that article. You had faith in your chef whereas Ashley has no faith in Rafa especially if this contract saga continues.
    Run it on a shoestring, spend little, bargain bin dip, sell, asset strip, stay in premier league, pocket TV money. Repeat. If relegation happens throw in some of own money.
    It will never change.

  • TheFatController

    Ashley bought the club to promote his SD brand and inflate his ego.

    Sadly for us, we are only no good to both when in the championship. Look at the last PR statements from the club – how Ashley took a gamble to get us back to the PL.

    You don’t say Mike? Get your company and ego back in the limelight pronto.

    The only time he’ll sell us sadly is when we don’t do anything for his SD brand and ego. Without us he’s just another farty bad business practice businessman. He’d go back to being a relative nobody.

    I have no doubt that without Rafa we’d drop like a stone and not come back. Not because we wouldn’t still get a ‘merrygoround’ manager and some free transfer and ‘stepping stone’ players, but just because the farce would be exposed, there’d be no more smoke and mirrors and we’d all know it – players, fans, opponents. We’d be easy pickings for properly motivated clubs.

    • Wezza

      I agree about dropping like a stone.
      I was thinking yesterday how lucky we are to have Rafa but someday he will be gone and when that happens we will be just like under Pardew or McClaren.

      • Big Hairy Man

        Tony Pulis’s black & white army.

        • TheFatController

          Don’t! Ashley will think he can sell ‘the Tony Pulis cap’ in his grubby sheds on the high street

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    A good Swansea team, They were relegated, hardly a ringing endorsement, is it

    • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

      The hen Swansea had a better side, he was an important part.

      • MichaelMaximusMoose

        Bollix, he played 55 games out of Swansea`s last 114
        excluding the cup games. in other words he wasn`t a starter in a relegation team
        And up yours Blobby

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    Fulham are after Alassane Plea a striker quoted at £25m, wonder where that leaves Mitro.

    • Martin Rooney

      It’s designed to stir Newcastle into selling, that is, get it done or we’ll go elsewhere.

  • Ba ba.

    Nothing will change until he’s gone.

  • SuperDesHamilton

    That picture on this article must be the most vile thing I’ve seen

    • Superdooperhooper

      Can’t they take it down and replace it with something nicer? Like a picture of that fatberg from the sewer or something?

      • SuperDesHamilton

        Two girls one cup wild be an improvement

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    I do not know how much Murphy, Lejeune, Murphy and Merino cost but it was in the region of £30m so hardly six or seven million pounds signings. Before that Mike Ashley gave McClaren over £70m to buy players such as Townsend, Shelvey, Wynaldum, Mitrovic, Thauvin and Mbemba. This is hardly scraping round for basement signings. What Ashley’s model is to spend every penny the club generates while covering the debts with his interest free loan. At West Ham for instance the directors charge 6% which means a lot of money goes out the club.
    Yes he gets free advertising but he has saved the club approximately £80m in interest payments. As for Merino he wants to leave as not only does he not play sometimes he does not make the bench. Quality signings will arrive mark my words.

    • bobby martins

      Thanks for the reply MM, you have made some interesting points referring to West Ham Director payments and the value of free interest payments even though he was forced to make some of that due to his own bad decisions. The reference to 6-7 mill signings were made in lieu of the Cabaye/Debuchy/Anita types that’s its difficult to make them anymore. Barring Murphy which is incentive loaded to 12, others were below 10 mill. And when he did invest he trusted guys like mclaren but Rafa has literally to beg for it. But I will share your optimism that quality signings will come this season, things have to change.

      • Wezza

        Well what is for sure that the ‘every penny’ lie is exactly that. A lie.
        A few have predicted exactly what is happening right now. We won’t be breaking the transfer record. Things won’t ever change under Mike Ashley.

      • FatParosite

        Mr Martin’s don’t be fooled by Monkwearmouth Bagpipes he is a self serving troll. He has no optimism, he has merely come on to laugh at those of us who do not have any belief that Ashley will do anything but keep NUFC under his heel.

        • bobby martins

          Cheers mate, I had a nice laugh at someone gone on a rampage for no particular reason

          • Monkseaton Magpies

            Fat Parosite along with his cronies Leazes and Jezza hate Newcastle United and anyone who supports them full stop. This site is full of moaners and even when some good happens they still moan and find it negative very sad people.

          • TheFatController

            So let me get this right? The suffragettes, Mandela, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, CND, Tibetan freedom campaigners are all just ‘moaners’ because they, unlike you, don’t put a positive spin on power abuses ?

            You’re codependent. Yet proud. You’re the weakest personality of all the commenters on here. A sap.

    • MichaelMaximusMoose

      The WD 40 didn`t work then as your heads still up your a$$
      Try Dulax it may help you schitt it out

    • TheFatController

      Whereas I joke Leazes is a fictional character above, I am convinced you are actually a piece of fiction. Unreal, that’s for sure ..

      • Monkseaton Magpies

        One of your kinder comments but very real I am. Ask the club.

        • SuperDesHamilton

          Ask the club 😂😂😂😂

          Monkseaton is Newcastle’s very own barra bravo

          • Tino11

            He’s one of the “top 15 supporters” don’t you know! 😄

          • SuperDesHamilton

            Haha he’s in his own little world

          • TheFatController

            He thinks we’re being unkind with our comments….no, seriously.

          • SuperDesHamilton

            He done Jerusalem away with Jesus back in BC

          • Monkseaton Magpies

            Correct the league table proves it.

        • TheFatController

          If you want kind comments don’t write complete tosh.

          Surely you have worked that ‘cause and effect’ out?

  • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

    Got to agree on Clement Grenier, he’s a guy we’ve gone close with before and very capable. I think we’re looking at someone else but I’d prefer Grenier.

    • MichaelMaximusMoose

      Jesus wept Blobby we`re in for Bas Dost
      pull yourself together

    • robbersdog

      Grenier’s a busted flush; he’d most likely be a disaster at our place.

      • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

        Too many injuries?

  • Dillon Tovak

    😂 nice fiction you’ve created about the “talented chef”, fatty should trust in Rafa though you’re right.

    • Leazes.

      He’s real… American owner of Martin’s multicuisine restaurant in Goa India….. Now we know where Mark Jenson has been for his hols….. looks nice!

      • TheFatController

        Private Investigator Mickey Leazes pulled the brim of his hat down low and pulled the collar of his mac up, put out his cigarette, and started his enquiries…

        • Leazes.

          He gives a link, hardly investigative……except I cant link his name to the restaurant he says he owns…. only other people called Martin…. that’s odd…. possibly relations?

          • Dillon Tovak

            It sounded like a convenient parallel.
            My cynicism took hold 😂

          • Leazes.

            Well done… whoever is writing these things has gone a step further in creating a fake persona.

          • Dillon Tovak

            Maybe it’s just my phone but the website for the restaurant is a bit weird.

          • Leazes.

            That restaurant is real… theres photos of it all over, its mentioned on tripadvisor, lonelyplanet etc….. its just got nowt to do with the guy with the twitter account who wrote this article, there’s pictures of the owner and a bio….. its a bloke called Nicky Martin who set it up from scratch.

          • bobby martins

            Let me settle this lads.The bloke called Nicky Martins is my dad

          • Tony English

            Leazes reminds me of my mates mam. She sits in front of the TV and everyone who comes on she comments… ..nose job…..wig….he dyes his hair….liposuction… teeth…. bo ob job…. she’s had work done

            Honestly man, he thinks this board is like the X-Files nobody is who they seem…. why would we bother?

          • bobby martins

            Cheers Tony. I don’t get the negativity. At the end we all support the same club. Whoever contributes take a lot of time out of love and passion for the club.

          • Tony English

            Negativity I understand, folk are always going to have their pet hates. Arguments are never far away even if we’re doing well, it’s a game of opinions.

            However I don’t understand this obsession that folk are pretending to be other people, and making stuff up.

            Maybe it’s because in real life ‘Leazes’ is actually my mates mam, Sandra from Cramlington.

          • Leazes.

            Well done…. he’s Indian…. your picture is an African American…. bullsh it

          • bobby martins

            😂😂😂

          • Tony English

            Chill out Sandra. Keep your teeth in.

            Explain to me why someone would think “I know, I’m going to research a restaurant in Goa to work up a parable about a chef and finances. I’m going to adopt a fake persona as a once struggling restauranteur made good in order to show my knowledge of football finances.”

            Is that likely?

            No.

            The men in white coats. They’re coming to get you Sandra.

  • panther

    sissoko?

  • mactoon

    Now you’ve done it. I can see Ashley reading this then closing down the football team and ordering some volcanic stones!

    • bobby martins

      Haha!! Brilliant

  • Simon

    Yes Bobby!!!!
    Loved this article, bit of fact, bit of fiction, lots of passion.
    God help us.