Well here we go again.

For a fourth transfer window in a row, Rafa Benitez and fans of Newcastle United seem to be being let down by those who hold the purse strings with an iron grip. How unchangingly predictable. How unimaginatively ordinary. How eye-wateringly, heart-achingly unambitious.

Rafa is currently being given all the evidence he needs that to sign a new contract while Mike Ashley runs the club would be utterly foolhardy.

It’s the broken promises and the misleading words and the fingers crossed behind the back: “I promise you every penny the club generates (from selling cans of sprite)”; “I promise you full control of all transfers (that don’t cost more than a Greggs Steak Bake).”

What’s most upsetting about all of this is the hope.

A world-class manager, a fan-base onboard, a hard-working, dedicated squad, a season of Premier League TV money in the bank, £10million pounds from the sale of Merino, and Jack Colback off the wage bill. It should all have boded so well for some marquee signings to propel us into the new season.

Has it? No. Will it? Painful, wearying experience leads me to fear not. Time is fast running out and – as usual – concrete, decisive action seems paper thin. We’re moving through this transfer window like we move through them all: like a cat with no legs.

The most concerning thing about all of this is that Rafa Benitez has proven himself capable of speaking in the language that Ashley speaks. Money. Pounds and pence. He buys astutely and he adds enormous value to the players in his squad.

By my reckoning, Rafa has signed 25 players in his time in charge of Newcastle United. Only 5 of those might have been said to be unsuccessful signings: Gamez, Ben El-Mhanni, Lazaar, Slimani and Sels. (I realise that some fans would probably include Manquillo and Joselu in that list, but I think the jury is still out on those two; they at least do a solid job for the team).

In other words, 80% of Benitez’ signing are successful. That’s the kind of man I’d be trusting with my money.

But Ashley doesn’t really do astute judgement. After all, the only manager he has every seriously invested in is Steve McClaren. He let him buy Shelvey and Townsend and Wijnaldum and Mbemba and Mitrovic.

No such luck for Benitez.

And it’s madness! Consider the four first XI players that Rafa has kept at the club from that disastrous spell. Lascelles. Dummett. Shelvey. Perez. I’d challenge any fan to argue that Rafa’s leadership hasn’t doubled the value of those four players.

Rafa’s nous in the transfer market and skill on the training pitch have given us a solid mid-table starting XI.

newcastle team

That XI proved towards the end of the season that they could give anybody a game, but where the squad looks too thin is in the second team:

newcastle team

With two glaring gaps and Mbemba and Hayden possibly leaving the club, Rafa will want at least two signings just to ensure that he has 22 players to select from.

In an ideal world, those two signings would be first-team players, an improvement on Perez and Dummett and a way of lifting the quality of the squad further.

I don’t have anything against Dummett and Perez – in fact I admire them both – but just imagine what a genuinely marauding left-back and a world-class, creative number 10 would add to our side.

But I just can’t see that happening. Just as the quality of our starting XI – a team that for long spells last season looked like a relegation candidate – has improved not one iota.

The very, very minimum that we need to do in the remainder of the transfer window is sell Mitrovic and bring in Rondon – a striker whom Rafa seems to feels is a better all-round option than either Gayle or Joselu, and a more trustworthy character than Mitrovic. Who are we to argue with his judgement?

At least then our starting XI will have improved a fraction and Rafa might head into the season with some optimism that they could perform on the pitch against most opposition.

But I’m sure – if that’s all we did – that he would also head into the season steaming inwardly with anger. If the figures being bandied around in the media are to be believed, selling Mitrovic and Merino to purchase Dubravka, Ki and Rondon would give the club’s bank balance a tidy £10million profit over and above the money we’ve made by being in the Premier League for a year.

That’s criminal, even if it is a simplification because it doesn’t factor in signing-on fees, agents fees or loan fees.

Even taking those things into account, Rafa will be wondering why, at the very least, that £10 million wasn’t invested into two more bargain basement options to provide him with the squad depth that he desires.

More importantly, he’ll be wondering what on earth Ashley meant when he promised him “every penny” that the club generates to spend how he chooses, what on earth he has to do to earn his trust, and what on earth he would be thinking were he to sign a new contract.

I’ve signed the #IfRafaGoesWeGo petition – but doing so felt like a fruitless act. I fear that fan-voice and online petitions will make no difference to Ashley and that he is going to let this manager, and this opportunity, slip through our club’s fingers.

Dear God, I hope I’m wrong.

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  • kingfisher

    The only reason Ashley is still here is that he knows he can depend on 50,000 fans turning up at SJP regardless of how he treats this great club.The ONLY way to effect change is to STOP GOING and show him we are not sheep being led to oblivion by the pied piper.

    • Ben Jones

      A Newcastle ‘fan’ ^^^^^

    • Dave Pattinson

      Agree with everything you say mate, but sadly that day will never come. Too many fans happy to contrive an excuse for turning up and not seeing things long-term. Plus ça change…etc….etc….. for ever & ever.

      • kingfisher

        Correct Dave.Whenever I’ve posted comments about stayi g away,I get replies saying that they love ” the match day experience” meeting up with mates, having a few pints etc.Surely they could still enjoy the day, but instead of watching the match, they could just stay outside the ground.
        Just a couple of boycotts at high profile televised matches would have more effect than all the rhetoric and flag waving protests,but sadly,as you rightly say, this will never happen.

        • Geordiegiants

          Exactly, 100% they are more interested in their social life than the greater good of the club, it’s just madness it really is. I think we are all aware that football clubs are ran as business’s, but there is taking a few quid for you’re investment then there is taking thepiss and then there is the fatcunt.

      • ghostrider

        How about too many fans want to go and watch their favourite football team at their football club, unconditionally.

  • Paul Patterson

    Whilst not ideal, I’d take cover on the right wing and cover at both full backs as a success at this stage. That’s where we are at with this transfer policy.
    18 days, we have 18 days. Tick tock, tick tock.

  • Geordiegiants

    We need a striker, playmaker, and two better players than Diame and Ritchie. If he can I’m sure he would stretch to a left back and right back if he can move on Maniquin and mbemba.

  • Pc07

    More articles about transfers or lack of. I keep saying, It’s been 11 years either you get it or you don’t, we don’t need to be told the same thing over and over in these articles. There isn’t a club to support anymore, it’s just a business run for profit by Ashley, supporting Newcastle at this point is akin to supporting a high street store. What can be done? Stop feeding the beast! BOYCOTT! Not when Rafa goes, NOW!

    • Leazes.

      Mark Douglas still doesn’t get it either…. lets face it when the sports editor comes out and makes excuses for Charnley and says ‘we are a good friend to the club’ after 11 years of abject misery its not an indication that they will ever get it.

      Douglas is a Blackburn fan with a gripe about the sale of a certain centre forward.

      • ghostrider

        But it isn’t 11 years of abject misery.
        The 11 years of abject misery is for those that chose to make it so, based on expectations that went as high as a mountain and as low as a skyscraper.

        In the meantime i’ve had some great excitement and some right downers. A mixed bag in reality in that 11 years.
        Weirdly I had the same in the 11 years before that and the 11 years before that and the 11 years before that.

        They can’t all have been under Ashley.

        Winning the championship title, twice was fantastic. As good a feeling as winning anything, apart from the latter bragging rights of the higher pedestal prem titles or champions league final…which very few teams get to win.

        Aye it hasn’t always been a bed of roses but equally nor has it been a bed of thorns…except in the minds of those that choose to hate.

        • SuperDesHamilton

          We won the championship because we were relegated you gimp

          • ghostrider

            So what.
            We were talking about excitement and winning stuff.
            Nobody said it has to be premier league titles or champions league finals, etc.
            A win is a win and not many clubs get to win titles and get the excitement of that successful season as well as the end product of the effort and skill required to see it through.

          • SuperDesHamilton

            If a club is successful as it climbs the leagues it’ll win various lower tier leagues. A club that got relegated & promoted the following season isn’t success it’s a bare minimum requirement of getting said club back on the equal footing of being where they were initially

          • ghostrider

            Nope. It’s called progress and success ot get back.
            The next season is then called bettering the last premier season, meaning avoiding relegation, which again, is progress.
            Finishing below 10th or bettering a points total can be called progress.
            That remains to be seen this season.

    • kingfisher

      Spot on Pc07👍👍👍

  • steve

    I think someone is wearing Rafa tinted glasses. To say that only five transfers have been unsuccessful is ridiculous. Joselu and Manquillo are awful, you can argue that the jury is still out on Atsu and Murphy but they appear to be a waste of money as well. Hanley was awful, Merino faded quickly after early promise and Slimani was a disaster all round. So really we’re looking at a 50% success rate.

    • Paul Patterson

      If you give a chef instructions to make a sunday lunch and only give him £10 to do it, he’s going to cut corners and buy things that aren’t as good as they should be . .

      • Peaky

        Like that….going to borrow and use somewhere else tomorrow…

    • Mxpx

      Hard to say as at Christmas we’d have called diame a complete waste of time I have no expectation of joselu or manquillo turning up like diame did mind I actually don’t think Murphy has been bad in truth and maybe just needs more games to be able to impress atsu looked like a great option at championship level and hasn’t really stepped up the issue I take with rafas transfer business is the complete unwillingness to give players a second chance not advocating for colback as he’d been utterly terrible before he was frozen out but mbemba saivet and mitrovic all suggested they had something to offer to me but again so did mascherano and alonso at Liverpool before they were frozen out

      • steve

        Can’t really argue with anything you’ve said, especially when there isn’t a chance in hell we’ll replace Mitrovic or MBemba with anyone better.