Fans of Newcastle United are obviously not too bright.

Their worries about this Premier League season and especially the ramifications of actually making a profit in the summer transfer window, are dismissed by pundits and neutrals alike with one sweeping statement.

Newcastle supporters told ‘You finished 10th last season, what have you got to worry about?’

If only life was so simple!

Mike Ashley and his people (see below) have constantly referred to last season’s tenth place finish as some kind of protective shield for this season, the reasoning supposedly being that if you finish 10th one season then you don’t need to worry about relegation the next.

In normal circumstances that should hold some truth, in that if you finish in comfortable mid-table and then invest in your squad, you should be improving and looking to move on.

Last season Everton and Leicester finished in the two places just ahead of Newcastle, each of those clubs spent around £81m on new signings this summer (on top of significant investment in recent seasons), Newcastle spent £23m and made a net profit of over £20m.

Those two clubs already had decent squads with some real quality players, their biggest problem being that they were underperforming. In contrast, any sensible person knew that Newcastle massively overachieved last season when it came to their place in the table. Rafa Benitez pulling out all the stops thanks to his experience and expertise.

As has been noted on The Mag previously before, on the final day of the season Newcastle could have finished as low as 15th if results had gone a different way, whilst NUFC’s 44 points was the lowest ever to get a top half finish in Premier League history.

If you need any further illustration when it comes to being complacent after relative success the season before, Newcastle followed their fifth place finish in 2011/12 by only reaching safety the next season when winning their final away game of the season (2-1 at QPR).

The reality of course is that once you get beyond the top six, everything is there to be fought for. That is why the likes of Everton and Leicester know they have to keep on trying to strengthen their squads.

When it comes to 10th this season you could name at least a dozen clubs who could potentially end the season in that position, most/all of them also relegation candidates to varying degrees.

Interesting to look at the Premier League final tables from 2015/16 and 2016/17, just look who ended up 10th on those occasions:

2015/16 final Premier League Table:

newcastle united

2016/17 final Premier League Table:

newcastle united

In 2016/17, the season after Chelsea finished 10th, they won the Premier League.

In 2017/18, the season after West Brom finished 10th, they were relegated in 20th spot.

13 May 2018 – Official Mike Ashley statement released after Newcastle beat Chelsea on final day of the season:

‘Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has thanked Rafa Benítez, the players and the club’s supporters following the club’s tenth-place finish in the Premier League.

“Rafa, as always, has my full support, and contrary to some media reports that portray me as a pantomime villain, I will continue to ensure that every penny generated by the club is available to him.”

3 August 2018 – Richard Keys:

“Shut up Rafa – or walk – which is your right. The club will survive you.

“Mike Ashley isn’t going to change for you. He was right last season – you had more than enough.”

10 August 2018 – Joint official statement released on eve of new season by Mike Ashley/Keith Bishop, getting it signed off by Rafa Benitez, Lee Charnley and Jamaal Lascelles:

‘The view we all share is that we have a better squad now than the one that finished tenth last season and all involved have worked tirelessly to make this happen.

Given our finishing position last season, we already had a team of players who were more than capable of performing well in the Premier League.’

11 August 2018 – Andy Gray (along with Richard Keys) attacking Rafa Benitez and praising Mike Ashley:

“So Mike Ashley can sit there and say ‘Listen, we finished tenth last year, I’ve allowed you sign seven new players, that you want, because you’ve signed them’.

“So I have given you a better squad than you had last year.”

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  • Kenny

    we need quality, not a bunch of shirts fillers to make up the numbers

    • JohnCornwell’sHair

      Ashley has an aversion to anything of quality, that is self evident.

      • S.G.M.

        Rafa has no quality then?

        • Kenny

          what is the use of a top manager if you deny him the players.

        • JohnCornwell’sHair

          Lots of quality in Rafa, Ashley’s aversion confirmed by his lack of any relationship with him.

  • SuperDesHamilton

    10th papered over the cracks massively. Normal chairman would think about pushing on and trying to consolidate, not Fatty. Sell, sell, sell & replace with guff

    • East Durham Mag

      A very very accurate assessment.

      • SuperDesHamilton

        But to the media when it’s us they don’t see it 🙈

        • East Durham Mag

          Yes what ungrateful deluded fools we are.

  • Paul Patterson

    There are two things evident here- Rafa Benitez is Ashley’s trump card, he’s banking on him making the difference to make up for a lack of quality spending in the transfer market and two he’s looking at the tenth place finish and thinking that it shouldn’t take much to keep somewhere near that this season.
    The positives? We have Dubravka and Kenedy from the start of the season and should give us a six month boost that we didn’t have last season.
    The problems? The 10th place was a little false. A couple of results/injuries and that could easily have been 15th or worse. This season we’re already having them injuries. What hasn’t been factored into the owners thinking is that other teams have spent big REALLY big in relation to us (Fulham and Wolves) two promoted teams that have in theory stolen a march on us.
    It’s all a gamble on the part of the owner. He’s done it before and it backfired a few times and massively- twice.
    It will only be through Rafa if it doesn’t happen a third.

    • JohnCornwell’sHair

      Ashley’s aim has only ever been 17th place.

    • S.G.M.

      Look at it another way “A couple of results/injuries and that could easily have been” 9th or better (1st game of the season for one)
      Teams spending “REALLY big” dose not guarantee success.
      One other point Rafa is not “Ashleys trump card” I don’t think he wants him, otherwise he would have backed him both in the transfer market and his contract

      • TheFatController

        Teams spending really big usually does guarantee success though. I think that is borne out not by me saying it, or you saying it doesn’t, but by the fact of the top of each league across Europe.

        That the biggest spenders dominate is undeniable.

        What does low spending guarantee, by way of comparison?

    • mentalman

      There were a few teams last season who would have been expected to finish mid table but had a bad season, i can’t see it happening again this time round

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    As I say with a bit of luck would have been on four points now and Rafa has not even played his signings yet. I often wonder what the likes of Dean and Jonathan and all the others on here get out of continually slagging off the club. I think it’s quite sad in a way. Must never be any moments of enjoyment in their lives. In a way it must be very depressing to be like that.

    • Kenny

      As I say, with a bit of luck we wouldn’t have a Fat Rat as owner. 🤡

    • Big Hairy Man

      With a bit of luck? We deserved nothing against an appalling Cardiff side. Our lack of quality in most areas was plain for all to see. We were lucky to still have 10 men on the pitch. As for “slagging off the club” I think you’ll find they’re slagging off your master, the dark lord himself… Ashley. Is it too much to ask that he invests a tiny bit or the £120m+ TV money where it’s supposed to be invested, ie. football.

      • Monkseaton Magpies

        So Cardiff had no shots on target we had six had two great chances and missed a penalty. That confirms it you def Sunderland or Man Utd like Jezza another one in the camp very sad.

        • Kenny

          👀 a 🤡

        • Big Hairy Man

          So everyone who dislikes the fat one is a Mackem or a Manc? We must get 50,000+ Mackems and Mancs every home game.

          • Monkseaton Magpies

            Not the fifty thousand they love the club just the fifty manic depressives on here.

          • Big Hairy Man

            They love the club but despise the owner.

        • cmrowley

          If your using stats to claim we should have beaten Cardiff You should use them to confirm we deserved to be beaten by spurs…
          It’s facts and figures OR feelings, can’t mix them when it suits.

      • Jate Legend

        We did deserve something. Was at the match our defence was never troubled we had a few openings and dead ball situations toward the end where we could have won it.

    • Will In Despair!

      Mmm… It’s not often the club itself is slagged off and/or negative comments aimed at it – it’s the 0dious goit that’s in charge of the downfall!
      What makes you think these new players are Rafa’s signings?

      Lucky, lol, again, another immature and foolish thing to state!

    • TheFatController

      No, I hear they really enjoy our early cup exits.

      What have you enjoyed about the Cups in recent years.

      Murdering Luton for ten first half minutes ?

  • panther

    Well there was me worrying that weakening the squad for profit and being extremely lucky with injuries wasn’t the way to go, how could the other 19 clubs in the league be so stupid?

  • Leazes.

    Being lucky with injuries and suspensions last season was such a large part of staying up….forget the final position…… we could easily have been relegated.

    It isn’t a strategy for survival… and now that there’s nothing left to asset strip except the team, and he’s even started on that!

    …We now play with 20% of our outfield who belong to other clubs.

    Dennis Wise teased when he said that Ashley wouldn’t sell to an asset stripper with good reason…. Nowt left to strip!

    • Denzel

      next year he will sell Lascelles and Shelvey, then there will be nothing left.

  • Christopher Smeaton

    Can I ask the regular posters on here? Do you have issues on your phones when trying to load articles with really dodgy adverts popping up? Only seems to happen on this site. I’m going to have to get my too news from the Chron at this rate!

    • Kenny

      download Adblock

      • Christopher Smeaton

        As simple as that! I’m a bit of a Luddite so thanks for that!

  • Spoon_Army

    It’s a game of fine lines between winning and losing. Luck will be key!

  • DeadToiler

    A very good article. I think our squad is marginally better than last year. I think we could finisher higher than last season but it would mean riding our luck again.

    • mentalman

      First team may be marginally better but the squad as a whole is not

  • Jate Legend

    Stopped reading after “fans of Newcastle aren’t that bright…” be somewhere else.

    • TheFatController

      There’s an irony that the irony of that line in the article is lost on you

      • HarryHype59

        I think the writer is satirising the views of the southern media “talking heads”.

      • Jate Legend

        Haha fair point I had had a few when I wrote that

  • HarryHype59

    As WBA found out, the margin of safety between a team finishing 10th in this league and one getting relegated isn’t that wide. Other teams around us have improved their squads where as Ashley has streamlined ours even more. The lack of cover at fullback is one example of this.