Under the ownership of Mike Ashley, Newcastle fans have found that there is little point in looking too far ahead.
The NUFC owner’s only strategy has been to try and get through the next season and survive in the Premier League on the lowest possible spend.
Willing accomplices such as Derek Llambias would claim the existence of five year plans, when the evidence clearly told you otherwise.
The only possible loose ‘long-term plan’ you could maybe put forward, was with the now seemingly abandoned policy of buying young players from weak overseas leagues, in the hope they might be sold for a lot of money in the future.
In his 11 years and counting in control at NUFC, Mike Ashley has allowed almost zero investment in the infrastructure of Newcastle United: the training ground, Academy set-up and St James Park itself.
Newcastle supporters are rightly worried about the here and now, Mike Ashley refusing to support Rafa Benitez in any meaningful way this summer, Newcastle making the biggest profit of all 20 PL clubs in the summer window. Watford the only other to make a profit and that was due to Richarlison leaving for £40m+.
However, looking at the situation in a year’s time, Ashley is storing up an absolute nightmare, in my opinion.
Assuming nothing positive happens in the meantime, there looks to be little doubt that Rafa Benitez won’t be staying for the 2019/20 season, even if he keeps Newcastle in the Premier League.
I think if that is the case, then Jamaal Lascelles will surely follow. He will have done his bit and no Newcastle supporter could then blame him for now looking after himself and leaving the Mike Ashley circus.
Mohamed Diame is out of contract next summer and will be 32 by then, so that is surely one current key first team player we can count out.
In addition, Rondon and Kenedy have no buying clauses and will return to their respective clubs.
By the end of September 2019 this would be the age profile of our squad:
30 Ciaran Clark, Ki Sung-yueng, Matt Ritchie, Martin Dubravka, Federico Fernandez
28 Paul Dummett, Karl Darlow, Florian Lejeune, Dwight Gayle
27 Fabian Schar, Jonjo Shelvey, Yoshinori Muto, Christian Atsu
26 Ayoze Perez, DeAndre Yedlin
25 Javier Manquillo
24 Isaac Hayden, Jacob Murphy
Suddenly we will have gone from people talking last season about Newcastle having a young improving side last season, to one that is ageing and almost certainly struggling.
If Newcastle stay up this season and are left with the above as the basis of our squad, with a new Pardew/McClaren type puppet brought in to replace a departed Rafa, then that has disaster written all over it.
If Rafa Benitez fails to overcome the massive obstacles put in his way by Ashley this time, then if Newcastle end up in the Championship, disaster might not come close to describing what could happen.
Very likely at least a few of the remaining better players would leave as well, Mike Ashley happy to bank more cash and get higher earners off the wage bill.
History has shown that the last thing you want if dropping down to the Championship is an ageing team/squad, stripped of the small group of better quality players. Just look at the Mackems last season.
If there is one small positive when looking at this, I just wonder if Mike Ashley is happy for this situation to unfold. The owner hoping Rafa does just enough to keep Newcastle United in the Premier League despite minus backing in the transfer market, then the owner selling up, knowing he has left a right mess behind him for unsuspecting new owners, with Benitez and Lascelles already having walked away?
This just makes it even more imperative for me that everything is done to convince Mike Ashley that he should genuinely put the club up for sale as soon as possible, sell it and let new owners and Rafa Benitez try to start and repair the damage in the January window, as well as of course investing in that crumbling infrastructure of training ground, academy and St James Park (none of those three areas included in Financial Fair Play rules on spending).