Each summer I look at Newcastle United.

The players that come and go and what we end up with.

To me it is simple, it’s essential you keep all of your best players, then if you can do that, the challenge is to bring in better quality to improve your first team.

Hopefully then keeping those that drop out of the first eleven, so you improve your bench and knock the weaker subs off that, and so on.

Losing any of your best players is usually catastrophic.

It is like starting a match by kicking the ball in your own net from kick-off, plus it instantly sends a big negative message out to any decent players who you might be trying to convince to come in.

Even Newcastle United couldn’t get the Martin Dubravka deal wrong. They had to activate the £4m buying clause by the end of May and there was never really any doubt he would be staying.

As for Kenedy, we ended last season with high hopes that a major move would be made to buy him, the Brazilian having given the team that attacking wildcard they’d lacked.

Those hopes of buying Kenedy basically fell off a cliff and that looked to be that.

Luckily, the player enjoyed it here and we have Rafa Benitez, those two factors enough to get him on loan again. I still think it is rubbish we didn’t even try to buy, especially when you then see Fulham spending £30m on Jean Michael Seri, but at least we have Kenedy for what is going to be a massive challenge this coming season.

Obviously they have only played 12 or 13 games each and we can’t say for sure they will keep it up but fair to say Dubravka was outstanding when he arrived on loan, whilst Kenedy was easily our best attacking player.

I think both of them set a standard as to what we have to aim for in the rest of the first eleven. They aren’t superstars (yet) but what they are, is very good quality Premier League players, based on what we’ve seen so far. Two players that I am more than happy with and can’t see Newcastle able to attract/afford better, certainly at the minute.

I think we then have another four who fall into that category, based on last season.

I believe the Lejeune and Lascelles partnership could be developing into an absolutely cracking one.

Lascelles is commanding and a very good leader, whilst the Frenchman looked more and more assured and is very good on the ball. If they carry on this season as they ended the last, then no way could we bring in better than them.

The other two of my six are another partnership.

Shelvey and Diame have more Premier League experience than any others in that team who played so well from February onwards.

It was a strange one because the opening half of the season saw Jonjo Shelvey struggling for form and Mohamed Diame nowhere really. When the former Senegal international did get the odd game he looked even worse than he had in the Championship.

However, something just clicked. The reality was that these two were players who Rafa Benitez should have been able to rely on as key men on the return to the Premier League.

They had both did the business in the top tier previously and when they eventually clicked, they never looked back.

Always dangerous to assume that anything will carry on from one season to the next but in their case, there really shouldn’t be any doubts.

It was also a massive bonus (for Newcastle) that Southgate ignored Shelvey, whilst Diame retired from international football to concentrate on Newcastle. They should be in great condition for when the Premier League kicks off and ready to get revenge on Spurs for last season, their entire first team have had full on World Cup campaigns, no reason why Shelvey & Diame can’t do the same job as they did against Kante and co. on the final day of last season – when hammering Chelsea 3-0.

As for the rest of Newcastle’s best eleven, as it stands, I don’t think any of them are bad players, but there is a desperate need to still do upgrades on at least two or three of them this summer.

Dummett, Yedlin, Perez, Ritchie and Gayle are all decent but we need better quality in two or three of those positions. The other six (Lascelles, Kenedy etc) set the standard and we need to end this transfer window with at least eight or nine of their quality.

At the same time we need to still keep whoever drops out of the first eleven, as undoubtedly there is a desperate need for a better squad, as well as the team that starts.

This is a crucial time for both the club and Rafa, if he gets the right backing now, he can really take this team places.

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  • JonMag

    Takes some doing to have only 6 premier league quality players out of a squad of 25, one of them is on loan & Diame is iffy to say the least as it has taken him a season & a half to perform, so in conclusion Newcastle have 4 reliable premiership players as permanent members of the squad.

  • Mrkgw

    The situation looks extremely grim to me. Very few positives under this horrendous regime that is bleeding our club dry. ASHLEY OUT!

  • Stephen

    Am I the only person that can see this?
    Three or four injuries and we’ Donald Ducked😡

    • JonMag

      2 would do the trick if it was Shelvey & Lascelles

    • FatParosite

      No I see it. So do many fans who WILL not pay Ashley any more money. Unfortunately some people on here (I’m looking at you Gary Norman) are either wilfully stupid or arrogantly partisan. They don’t see it.

      • TheFatController

        I think it’s just people enjoying being contrary about something they care little about, but know others do care.

        Aka ‘trolling’.

      • Garry Norman

        So, by taking a reasonable stance I’m will fully stupid.
        Oh to live in your world!!

    • Peter C

      You could be so very right.

      Two or Three bad long term injuries, to key players, and we are very much in the sh#te! especially if it should happen early in the season, with the sort of fixtures we have.

      So please take notice Mr Ashley! as relegation would be a very distinct possibility, and your investment, worth considerably less, once again.

      Three relegations in your tenure, would be unthinkable, and it’s highly unlikely, we would come back up at the first time of asking, once again.

  • Tweed Mag

    Good to read an article all about Newcastle, with a positive outlook. The squad obviously needs strengthening and hopefully that will happen.

    • TheFatController

      I’d prefer the obviously and hoprfully to he the other way round in that last sentence though…

  • Garry Norman

    Is it possible just once, to read an article without the comments at the bottom being about the end of the world, famine, plague, asteroids wiping us out, and of course Ashley out?

    • GlasgowMag

      What are the positives at the moment I’m struggling to find any. 11 years of rubbish with an owner who doesn’t care about his customers the club or the area. All he is interested in is his brand and draining as much money out the club as possible. So sorry for not being positive but probably like the rest of the guys on this platform I have been worn down over the years by the constant lies of this hideous regime!! So yes Ashley out and more fans should be taking that stand otherwise our once great club is basically doomed!!!

      • KRS1

        I agree, look at the effect the West Ham fans protests last season have had on their Board. They are backing their manager with cold hard cash. Our Owner may change his behaviour or sell if his brand was being damaged by an empty stadium or more vociferous protests

      • Mrkgw

        Well said.

    • FatParosite

      You are typical of the Ostrich visioned fans who accept anything that Ashley dishes out without question.

      • Garry Norman

        I’ve at no point said I agree with anything Ashley has said or done, im just pointing put that practically every thread ends with the same comments from the same dozen or so people. I’d just like to read something different for a change.

        • Tweed Mag

          Spot on. The doomsters get a bit tedious after a while.

    • TheFatController

      Well, I’ll point out something different then.

      Rafa leaves us in 10 months.

      Ashley in.

  • Paul Patterson

    The reason we did so well in the second half of the season was simply the additions of Kenedy and Dubravka. Dubravka shored up and gave the defence confidence and Kenedy freed up Shelvey, Diame, Perez and Ritchie.
    It’s simple, spend money, add quality, team does well. The only people who can’t/won’t see that is the MD and the owner.

    • KRS1

      The fact that our best player at the back end of the season was Kenedy who was a million miles away from the Chelsea first team tells you how far away we are from having a squad that is strong enough.

    • Dillon Tovak

      I’m sure they can both see it, Fat Mike just doesn’t care and it’s not Penfolds job to make it happen, in fact it’s his job to ensure it doesn’t.

  • Hughie

    Paul Dummett was also a major plus when returning from injury, and is a PL standard left back without doubt, who can also play centre back..

    Otherwise agree with the assessment, and the point made by Benitez is that the club is no better off in terms of playing strength than last season. The penny pinching continues.

  • KRS1

    We will not get away with another season where our top scorer doesn’t get into double figures. A decent striker is a must.

  • FatParosite

    This article is almost infantile in it’s nativity. Statements like “but there is a desperate need to still do upgrades on at least two or three of them this summer.” are proof of that this is a guileless piece. This squad is pitifully short in numbers & only pure luck prevented injuries enough to scrape 10th. That 10th place was anything but emphatic. Anyone who believes Diame will just pick up where he left off did not see him during the whole of the 2016 season. These Mag articles are beginning to sound like the Bishop powered Comical “hooray for everything” articles.

    • funlovingexpress

      “This squad is pitifully short in numbers & only pure luck prevented injuries enough to scrape 10th.”

      Squad was actually too big. Even RAFA said so. You could argue about the quality but not the numbers.

      Even now its too big for the size Rafa wants. Yes that is changing once the likes of Colback is gone but also need to get rid of at least 2 keepers as well as a fair few of the squad players

      • mentalman

        We were short in numbers on players rafa wanted to use

      • TheFatController

        I think you could argue about the quality yes.

      • FatParosite

        Great news then….

  • Rich Lawson

    The”good news” is we’ve got half a team ? Ffs that’s gloomy, even for this site ?

    • GlasgowMag


    • Superdooperhooper

      Hooray we’ve got six decent players ! Only twenty behind man city then. Time to crack open the champagne

    • Garry Norman

      Was it possibly sarcasm?

      • Superdooperhooper

        I dunno what to think anymore. This site is nuttier than a ton of squirrel [email protected]

  • Desree

    Great. There are championship clubswho have more premier league players than NUFC. Let’s all be positive as the plane crashes into the mountain again. Palace, NUFC and Cardiff for the drop. I can’t see our players up for the fight when Rafawill be going.

    • Superdooperhooper

      With that start and these players I can’t see anything other than a struggle to stay up

  • I’ve got the Ki

    Perez and Dummett also for me. Weirdly Perez seems better in prem than championship. I get the point, though. We desperately need more quality.

    Not our MO anymore, regrettably. We’ll sell a couple and replace with slightly worse players before the end of the window. That’s what we’ve been doing for a few years now…

  • Leicester Mag

    What though when most other teams have 7 or 8 or in some cases more than 11. If the premier league was an arms race Ashley would have us throwing stones at tanks

    • FatParosite

      Many idiots on here would take your metaphor at face value and argue that the Palestinians & Iraqis have had a lot of luck with stone throwing through insurgency. They would do this without any self awareness.

  • funlovingexpress

    We have the best defence I can remember at the toon and our midfield is exciting, the hard work of Ritchie and crossing ability on one wing and the trickery of kennedy on the other as wel;l as as a central midfield partnership of Shelvey and Diame who can unlock the tightest of defences.

    Its upfront where we lack the bite. If we had a beardsley and cole we would be top four with ease.

    Everyone seems to think Townsend would give us an attacking threat. Yes he did well when he played for us as fresh as a daisy when the teams we were playing were getting ready for their holidays and had already played two thirds of a season.

    Palace fans would tell you that under the course of a full season, Townsend offers very little going forward but is hard working, tracks back and helps defend. Basically a matt Ritchie, but not as good because he cant cross a ball.

    Zaha is the exciting winger at palace, NOT Townsend.

    Strange how no one seems to notice that on here

    • FatParosite

      People have ignored Zaha for the simple reason Ashley would never agree to buying him so most people on here are avoiding pathetic debilitating hope.

  • robbersdog

    Aren’t we supposed to have at least 11 Premier League quality players? The top six or seven teams have 22 of them, so 6 is nothing to write home about.

    • funlovingexpress

      We have, but its the level of their quality which this article is discussing.

      Some of our players have vast premiership experience so are of premiership quality but ironically most are our poorer players.

      The good thing though is that our top players have now mostly had a season learning the ropes at thios level and will benefit greatly as well as further progress because of this.

      We are stronger now than we were at this stage last season. Yes we do need players but we even though last season we proved to be a top 10 team, we are even stronger now.

    • Superdooperhooper

      I’m old enough to remember when we had 11 good players and players like Scott sellars on the bench . He would walk into our first team now

  • mentalman

    I would argue there is more than 6 in the team

    Diame if he can keep up his form at the end of last season

    • TheFatController

      Is that an email from mike Ashley to Rafa? Just missing the word ‘derogatory’?

      • mentalman

        Who out of that list isn’t of a standard to play in the premier league

        • TheFatController

          Every club has 11 players that can play in the PL, all those players were at the club last season and needed a manager of Rafa’s class to get them winning games.

          It’s a bottom third PL side. Every PL team had a good run, don’t judge our 5 game run as ‘reality’ – That’s like saying West Brom were awesome really because Moore won 4 or 5 games for them, and won at Old trafford.

          • mentalman

            You haven’t answered my question

            Rafa can only keep the team in the premier league if the players are up to it so they are of a prem level. He couldn’t do it with championship players.

          • TheFatController

            Ok, this site is full of people who make arguments that would be mocked in a courtroom – just got to say that I’m afraid.

            You said there were 11 PL players. I said ‘is that an email from Ashley?’ and referenced his ‘I never thought the squad was championship’ PR stunt to tell the world he was clever and gave Rafa enough players to stay up

            You then ask me who is not PL
            Standard, like I had said some of them weren’t. I never said that anywhere. So in court you’d immediately lose credibility by your suggesting I said something that it is on record I didn’t say. Cue courtroom laughter.

            They are ok. But they had little or no suspensions or injuries. The squad is the same as last season, three weak clubs are gone, two clubs spending bigger than us are now in. So we’re now worse off. And we weren’t that far ahead anyway. No court would laugh at that logic …

          • Garry Norman

            Jesus Christ! He only started out by complimenting some of our players!

          • TheFatController

            Get you, the big boy. He’s an apologist dreaming of how we might be ok this season. Ashley is laughing at him, I don’t find it funny.

            i’m watching Mbappe and Pogba do the business and have fans like you of a once top 20 world club financially acting thankful we actually have 11 players that are good enough for the PL.

            And you think I’m being harsh on the mentaility that ‘hey, we can compliment 11 of our players as PL standard’? You’re easily pleased, which is why Ashley still runs the club the way he does .. it’s pathetic.

          • Garry Norman

            Or is it pathetic seeking the negativity in every possible way regarding every comment?
            I’ve never said our squad is good enough.
            I’ve never said Ashley is a good owner.
            I’ve never said our transfer dealings are deserving of a top club.
            I just see a person so desperate to criticise everything Ashley that your judgement is clouded.
            What was actually wrong with the initial comment of a list of players that he thought were good?
            It doesn’t make him, or me Ashley lovers to compliment players of our own team does it? Or is that where Newcastle fans are heading now? Criticise everything because ultimately everything is down to Ashley. Therefore do we criticise Rafa, because, after all he was Ashleys choice and must therefore also be shut?

  • Peter C

    Can’t disagree with anything that’s been written. The 64,000 dollar question is, will the manager get the backing.

    However going on past history, it doesn’t look that likely, does it.