There has been much discussion of ‘That’ official Newcastle United statement that was released on the eve of the season.
A joint statement (read it below) that went out in the names of Lee Charnley, Jamaal Lascelles and Rafa Benitez.
Fair to say that it left Newcastle fans with mixed emotions: anger, frustration and confusion, amongst others.
Without the names of Jamaal Lascelles and Rafa Benitez (in particular) on it, the statement would have simply been met by plenty of anger and frustration.
The fact that the manager and captain had put their names to it, added the confusion.
One of only two clubs (along with Watford) to have made a profit in the summer transfer window, to put out an official club statement congratulating yourself on the transfer business is embarrassing from the hierarchy. Spending money doesn’t always bring success, but when the club’s owner promises the manager ‘every penny’ and then there is not a penny spent beyond some of the cash from player sales, it just looks pathetic.
Whatever this joint statement says, we didn’t need telling how Rafa Benitez felt about what had happened this summer, in relation to Mike Ashley and funds for transfers. Since first going public with it in early July, Rafa has consistently told us that he was angry and frustrated with the lack of backing in the transfer market.
With the likes of Fulham, Huddersfield, Brighton, Wolves, West Ham, Southampton, Burnley, Bournemouth and Cardiff all having net spends £50m or more higher than Newcastle United, how could Rafa Benitez not be upset?
He wasn’t shopping where he wanted to, he was shopping where his meagre ‘budget’ allowed.
As to the statement on Friday, I must admit that when I first read it…as you can see below, looking past much of the nonsense included in it by Keith Bishop, I thought that there were just possibly some grains of hope, maybe. That the manager and captain had been given some assurances about the future (a club sale, an explanation of a positive credible long-term plan that explains this shocking lack of transfer funds this summer, or whatever), though having heard what Rafa Benitez has had to say now (see below), I don’t see that as being the case at all sadly.
It was clear from Mike Ashley’s perspective why he wanted this letter going out, to try and dilute fan protests as well as giving him and is PR people ammunition in the days, weeks and months ahead. As in, well the manager and captain agreed that…
As to why Rafa and Lascelles agreed to it?
We don’t know the process that brought this statement about but no doubt it was initiated by Ashley’s people. Did Rafa or his captain insist on anything being changed, or were they left with only the option of agreeing to a first draft, or nothing at all going out?
I think with what Rafa says below, it is obvious that he simply saw the joint statement as a positive thing in terms of doing no harm in trying to help create a more positive atmosphere for his squad.
We have seen it in each of these last four transfer windows now, Rafa Benitez makes clear throughout the transfer window that he is not getting proper backing from Mike Ashley, expresses his anger and frustration. However, once transfer deadline passes, he rolls his sleeves up and says they simply have to get on with the job and do the best with what is available.
A lot of people have rightly questioned the part of the statement that says ‘without doubt’ the Newcastle squad is now stronger after the summer window. To go out of your way to include those words is undoubtedly trying a bit too hard, the NUFC owner attempting to claim he is improving the club by backing the manager, supposedly.
In actual fact, the squad is probably stronger than last season, certainly compared to this time last year, but, and it is a big BUT, the truth is that nearly every one of the clubs Newcastle will be competing with, have improved their teams/squads far more than Rafa has been allowed to at St James Park.
Rafa Benitez often uses these kind of words: ‘Newcastle fans are clever, they know what is going on‘, and I think we are all surely ‘clever’ enough to see through what Mike Ashley is attempting to do with this joints statement.
Thousands of Newcastle fans still turned up to protest on Northumberland Street in Newcastle, outside Sports Direct on Saturday.
We all know that Rafa has not agreed to a contract extension, which is surely the only real show in town if the manager has any intention of showing anything has changed with Mike Ashley.
The manager is never going to slag off his players, he will only talk positives about the seven new signings and the others he will be relying on this season.
He has done his very best this summer to make absolutely clear that the club is failing and has no chance of improving until Mike Ashley changes or goes. Rafa shouting from the rooftops that the training facilities and Academy are desperately in need of major investment, as well as proper transfer funding, if Newcastle United are to have any chance at all of competing.
He has done his best and the pleas have fallen on deaf ears, so now Rafa just wants to do the very best and professional job he can do in the final year of his NUFC contract
Rafa Benitez asked why he agreed to his name being attached to Friday’s statement:
“I was trying to be positive to make sure that everybody sticks together.
“If you read what we said, it is not something (that is a lot) different to what I was saying (at Friday’s pre-match press conference).
“We have finished the transfer window, we have to concentrate on doing the right things for the club and the team.”
(Asked whether he agrees with the part of the statement that says ‘without doubt’ Newcastle United is stronger after this transfer window?)
“I want to say that the players we have brought in are good players.
“That is my thought.
“I want to support my players and give them the confidence and the belief that they can do it.”
The Mag – Friday 10 August 2018:
Friday afternoon has seen a surprise statement released by Newcastle United, a joint message signed off by Lee Charnley, Rafa Benitez and Jamaal Lascelles.
After the end of the transfer window, the statement’s message is maybe best summed up by this line: ‘Now, it’s about all of us pulling in the same direction, for the good of the club.’
Make of it what you will but just maybe this is a sign of something more positive to come in the future.
Unlike the embarrassing emails that were sent out in the names of Steve McClaren and Fabricio Coloccini, I just can’t see Rafa Benitez and Jamaal Lascelles allowing anything to go out that they weren’t perfectly happy with.
Newcastle United official announcement:
As the transfer window closes and attentions turn to the start of the season, we wanted to make this joint statement, on behalf of everyone at the club.
Doing good business in a transfer window is about ending the window clearly stronger than when you started and we believe we have done this. 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.
Collectively, we must extend praise to Steve Nickson and his recruitment team. Their operations are year-round, but they have worked day and night in recent months to support efforts to enhance the squad.
We are all excited about the seven players who have joined us this summer. Their combined experience in the Premier League and at an international level – with three of them appearing at this summer’s World Cup for their respective countries – cannot fail to strengthen us.
Martin Dúbravka and Kenedy have already proven themselves to be fantastic players here and we are confident that Ki Sung-yueng, Fabian Schär, Yoshinori Mutō, Salomón Rondón and Federico Fernandez will be excellent additions to the dressing room.
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. They have shown heart, guts and determination and the inference that they are ‘Championship’ players and not good enough is unfair and untrue. The players all believe in themselves and in the quality of the squad, and we all believe in the players.
Now, it’s about all of us pulling in the same direction, for the good of the club. This came through strongly in a recent positive call between our owner and senior members of the squad, who agreed that better dialogue going forward will benefit all parties and is in the best interests of the club.
With the transfer window now closed, the focus should be on unity and getting behind the efforts on the pitch.
We know our supporters are incredibly passionate and we know that passion will be channelled into supporting the players we have in black and white on Saturday, and every matchday thereafter home or away.
Lee Charnley, Managing Director
Rafa Benítez, Manager
Jamaal Lascelles, Captain