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The time of pre-season when you realise the game is up for Newcastle United

3 years ago

Newcastle United are 10 days away from a new Premier League season kicking off.

Forty three and a half hours before we play Tottenham, the summer transfer window closes.

By that point Newcastle fans will have a better idea of what they can expect in the nine months that will follow.

As it stands now after 11 weeks of this transfer window, difficult to make a case for things being on the up.

When it comes to Rafa Benitez working with new faces in pre-season, he has been limited so far to 24 minutes with Fabian Schar and 45 minutes for Ki Sung-yueng.

Not what he was hoping for, clearly.

With Braga tonight and then Augsburg three days later, there appears to be zero chance of any other new faces being involved in these remaining pre-season friendlies, even if Muto gets his work permit through today and/or any other signings are made in the very near future.

The World Cup helped us to get through the summer, the fact it turned out to be an excellent tournament was a massive bonus.

Four and a half weeks of not having to focus only on (the lack of) Newcastle signings.

However, France beat Croatia, the Newcastle United squad regrouped, and we had to face reality once again.

This is when your spirits really slide.

Last summer Newcastle United tried to tread water, at best, a window of budget signings and the season ended with only one of those, Florian Lejeune, in the team.

This summer a massive amount of work needed to be done in the transfer market and instead we have had Mike Ashley refusing to allow Rafa Benitez any transfer budget, having to sell players before he can buy.

With so few new faces, as the season approaches the void has to be filled that would normally be occupied by new signings talking about what they will bring to the team, the media competing to talk to them and how they will improve things for the new season.

This is the period of time when you really realise that the game is up at Newcastle United.

Instead of new signings, that void has been filled by interviews with players who weren’t good enough last season and young  players who Rafa Benitez has been forced to involve because of the lack of new signings.

No disrespect but I have no interest whatsoever in hearing Joselu, Atsu, Manquillo, Murphy, and others, telling us how this time it will be so much better, and how well pre-season has been going.

As for young players, yes we all want to see young talent come through into the first team, but only when it is as a positive, when they are really pushing and capable of doing it.

Sean Longstaff was set to go and play for Portsmouth in League One on loan but Rafa Benitez has been forced to postpone that, maybe indefinitely, because of lack of support in this transfer window. Only Matt Ritchie has had more minutes on the pitch than the 20 year old in these first three pre-season friendlies, the manager needing to give him some concentrated experience with the first team just in case he has to involve him this coming season.

When both the club and local media are pushing forward younger players such as Longstaff, Callum Roberts and Josef Yarney, as potential players this season for the first team squad, it just feels like desperation.

With Rafa having so little cash to spread around despite currently being £35m up on transfer deals so far (£25.5m once Muto’s work permit comes through), I then see a big interview this week with Jamie Sterry, the club putting him up to speak to the media.

At the end of last season the right-back was one of those listed by local media as a player that was amongst those Rafa definitely wanted to move out this summer. Sterry turns 23 in November and has so far had 16 minutes of league football in his career at Newcastle and last year was on loan at League Two Crewe.

I hope all young players can have great careers but I’m sorry, if Rafa is forced to include these players because he isn’t allowed to sign those he desperately needs, it is a recipe for disaster.

It doesn’t do younger players any good either, they would be better off out on loan getting regular games, or if indeed their future lies at a lower level, get them moved on and allow them to play for whoever.


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