Some fans actually started to believe that things had got so bad and obvious, surely nobody now could have a go at Rafa Benitez, as he desperately attempts to stop this football club totally imploding at the hands of Mike Ashley.
However, it was only a matter of time before certain journalists crawled back out from under their stones and tried to argue black is white and have a go at the Newcastle manager, and by association, the fans.
Sure enough, Thursday has seen the first ridiculous attack on the United boss.
I’m guessing we will never know if this is solely the journalist’s own embarrassing work, or whether it is Ashley’s PR minion, Keith Bishop, who has put him up to it.
The bottom line is that the article is based on a premise that either the journalist knows is not true, or else he has doesn’t know and has been reckless enough to write it without bothering to check anything as insignificant as the actual facts.
The journalist in question is Andy Dunn at The Mirror.
His column (extracts below) sets out to ridicule Rafa Benitez for complaining that Mike Ashley isn’t properly supporting him in the transfer market, Dunn writing: ‘Rafa’s unhappy/on the brink/at end of tether/demanding action/at loggerheads with owner or anyone else in power…Yippee! That’s the sound of football kicking off again. The Benitez strop is becoming a traditional curtain-raiser to rival the Community Shield.’
Since he took over, when it comes to transfers in and out Rafa has shown a £40m profit in summer 2016, wasn’t allowed to buy anybody in January 2017, had a net spend of around £15m in summer 2017, then once again not allowed to buy anybody in January 2018.
This has been followed by Mike Ashley refusing to give him any transfer funds apart from SOME Of the sale prices of players he sells, at this point with only a week until deadline day Rafa is currently over £25m up on transfers in and out.
At the same time: Huddersfield, Brighton, Fulham, Wolves and Cardiff have all got net spends of tens of millions of pounds.
Andy Dunn declares ‘The repetitive strain of Rafa’s unsubtle railing against the lack of investment is becoming a little tiresome.’
What is the Newcastle manager supposed to do?
In the last three transfer windows he kept his thoughts to himself until a certain point and then simply told the truth, that Mike Ashley had made him promises on transfers that hadn’t been kept.
This time he has gone public a little earlier but only because the transfer window deadline is also over three weeks earlier than it was before.
It isn’t just Newcastle fans now, pretty much anybody with a brain, whether it is supporters of other clubs or those in the media, are accepting that Mike Ashley is, for whatever reason, undermining Rafa Benitez and enjoying it, just as the owner does with the Newcastle fans.
To back up why Rafa Benitez should shut up, Andy Dunn’s spark of genius is pointing out what Newcastle’s players are (supposedly) paid. The Mirror man stating ‘In terms of wages paid, even the Newcastle faithful would be hard-pressed to suggest Mike Ashley is not competitive.’
This is laughable, Rafa Benitez even said himself after last summer’s window, that he couldn’t even compete on transfer fees or wages with Huddersfield or Brighton when it came to new signings.
Andy Dunn reckons Newcastle’s players in the Championship season were paid on average £54,000 a week.
As a basis for this, he points to the 2016/17 NUFC accounts that were released in May this year, covering the year in the Championship.
Dunn declaring: ‘Newcastle United were getting promoted from the Championship but their £112million salary bill was one topped by only seven Premier League clubs. Since then, it is hardly likely to have dropped significantly.’
This is where he really falls down a hole, as I said above, he has either come up with this nonsense himself, or Keith Bishop has been feeding him his lines. Either way it is total rubbish. A bit like where when the accounts were released, Newcastle United tried to claim there had been a loss of over £90m in the Championship season, when the reality was that this was almost entirely down to accountancy practises and the reality was that in terms of money in and out, the club was only £25m worse off – Ashley putting in £15m after he got NUFC relegated once again and the cash position at the bank going down another £10m.
If Andy Dunn had bothered to check, he would have seen that the following was also admitted by the club in the small print when the accounts were released…
The Mag – 18 May 2018:
Newcastle United official statement:
‘….the headline figure of £112.2m includes promotion bonuses and onerous contract provisions totalling just over £30m.’
So rather than the £112.2m wages supposedly paid to Newcastle players in the Championship season, we are already down to £80m. That then £80m wage bill is reduced further (in relation to players actually in Rafa’s Championship squad) by the fact that unwanted players Rafa inherited, such as Krul, de Jong, Saivet, Vuckic, Riviere and Thauvin all went out on loan with Newcastle paying out millions to help cover wages, further reducing what was actually paid to that 2016/17 set of players.
Andy Dunn wants to believe that Newcastle’s wage bill is likely to be at least eighth highest in the Premier League now (based on his false reasoning about the 2016/17 wage bill and average pay.
It is laughable to suggest that Newcastle might have a bigger wage bill than the likes of the top six and others such as Everton, West Ham and Leicester, who think nothing of paying £20m or more for players (and their relevant wages).
That average of £54,000 per week that Andy Dunn talks of, I would be amazed if more than a handful of current Newcastle players will be on that much now. It is crazy to think that when most of Newcastle’s players have cost around £5m or less, that they will be on massive wages.
I think an apology to Rafa Benitez for the unjustified attack is due, as well as an apology to everybody who read it – having been subjected to such ill-informed lazy journalism that has been used as the basis to attack a well-respected manager and acts as an apologist for Mike Ashley.
Andy Dunn from The Mirror:
‘Rafa’s unhappy/on the brink/at end of tether/demanding action/at loggerheads with owner or anyone else in power…
Yippee! That’s the sound of football kicking off again.
The Benitez strop is becoming a traditional curtain-raiser to rival the Community Shield.
This year’s vintage came after he fielded a decent-looking team against Braga in a friendly, only to see them cuffed four-nothing.’
‘This from a squad that is already among the best-paid in the Premier League.
The last complete set of accounts for football clubs was for the 2016-17 season, when Newcastle United were getting promoted from the Championship but their £112million salary bill was one topped by only seven Premier League clubs.
Since then, it is hardly likely to have dropped significantly.’
‘The average player wage at St James’ Park during that Championship-winning season was £54,000 a week. In terms of wages paid, even the Newcastle faithful would be hard-pressed to suggest Mike Ashley is not competitive.’
‘Yet to the outside world, and even to the many of us who consider him a world-class coach, the repetitive strain of Rafa’s unsubtle railing against the lack of investment is becoming a little tiresome.
“You see the teams that have been promoted, the money they are spending. Put it all together and you understand why the fans need to be concerned,” he (Rafa) went on.
Maybe Benitez wants Newcastle fans to be concerned. Because they don’t need to be concerned.’