Not time to panic; yet.

The start Newcastle United have been dealt is without doubt very difficult and if results were to go as expected, we would likely be playing catch up before we would have any ‘winnable’ games, thus cranking up the pressure to translate such games into points.

In my mind however, we must put our best foot forward and pick teams with the best chance of winning games, although I could accept containment missions at the like of the Etihad.

We are hindered heavily by lack of squad depth, which means that underperforming players are likely to be picked week on week.

The cases in point here are Perez and Joselu.

The former did have a good finish to last season but his contribution throughout his stay at the club could be described as hot and cold, and although the latter has scored our only goal this season and played a great ball to Kenedy who then fluffed his lines against Spurs, he is generally totally ineffectual.

The summer signings have been characteristically underwhelming, and yes we are only two games in, but they must be thrown in and tested from the start. It would be different if we had proven striking stars starting, but we don’t, and far from it.

Perez seems to be a favourite of Benitez and is without doubt a talented and smart player, even if he is very inconsistent as I have alluded to. I think though he would be more effective later in games when play breaks up a bit and defenders are a bit worn down.

When talking of wearing defenders down, Salomon Rondon is exactly the sort of player who does just that. He has good pace and strength and offers a threat running in behind as well as being able to hold the ball up and act as a target to run off. Even if he isn’t a 20 goal a year man, he is far superior to Joselu. Joselu might fit the target man bill but he is just unbelievably slow in everything he does and any decent defender should be able to handle him with relative ease. Let’s be honest, we all smelt a rat when Stoke agreed to sell him for a paltry fee to a club at the same sort of League position level as them, and we haven’t been proved wrong.

I wrote an article about a year ago, the subject of which was Mitrovic, and for all his faults – his ability to actually be a handful at times. The response was mixed from those who commented, which given the divisive of Mitro wasn’t surprising. Either Rafa doesn’t read The Mag, or he doesn’t think my opinion is worth listening to, as Mitro was completely frozen out and we persisted with Joselu in this role, or the lightweight Dwight Gayle.

We also finished 10th so perhaps I was talking pure nonsense. My point though, was that any sort of competent burly striker could make up for our obvious lack of quality, and while Mitro didn’t get his chance, Rondon can provide that, with more pace and more Premiership experience.

Contradiction here but I actually think it’s Joselu’s prolific uselessness that has Rafa keep him in the side. If we are trying to stay in the game for an hour, and perhaps sneak wins through counter attacks particularly later in games, then is he reasoning that Joselu for 60 containment minutes and Rondon for 30 in which you try to win a game or chase a game is a better option?

I’d just like to see us take the game to some teams, maybe in these ‘winnable’ games.  Actually go for it and try to blow a team off the park – it’s not completely impossible. As long as Lascelles is fit I do have some faith in our defence and their systems even if we aren’t laden with stars, and given we spend a lot of time without the ball in most games, I’d back us to see at least some games out defending a lead.

In my mind we absolutely have to pick Rondon as first choice and why not Muto off him. If Muto doesn’t work he doesn’t work, he could be rotated a bit with Perez even, but it’s going to be tough for any Premiership new boy to establish himself if he is only ever given a bit part role.

If we can get a couple of strikers working well together and the same post January box to box (with some goals added) Mo Diame appears, then without a bad injury list we can be an attacking threat to teams and have a decent season.

After a performance like Cardiff there really should be some changes, on top of the enforced Kenedy one, and whatever might happen with Manquillo/Yedlin’s injuries, but I won’t be surprised to see the same names again.

Naturally, without a big change in transfer policy we won’t become anything more than a 10th– 15th team but that’s better than an 18th-20th one.  I’d just love to see these signings get a chance to show that  they can contribute from the start and if they can, maybe we can foster some competition for places that has been lacking for such a long time and see some improvement in individual performances of longer serving playing staff off the back of that.

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  • panther

    At least he’s not actually picking the ball up, only positive I can think of

    • Sickandtired

      He’d probably drop it.

    • Ron

      You didn’t see the photo at the top, taken at the training ground.

  • Paul Patterson

    Rondon needs minutes to get him up to speed and he would have had more if it weren’t for the red card last week.
    I’m sure the plan was to bring Rondon on after an hour or so and then go on and beat Cardiff, but the sending off scuppered that.
    Until then, we will have to put up with Joselu, who (along with Perez) have already scored for us this season.

    • Wor Lass

      Perez hasn`t scored for us this season, Paul.

      • Ram Kishore

        He was only pointing to Joselu. Perez was mentioned in to remind us that no matter what happens Perez will start and he didn’t say perez scored

        • Wor Lass

          I`ll be a bit of a pedant, Ram. He did actually say he scored but it wasn`t what he meant – not that it matters, anyway, in the great scheme of things! I do agree that Rafa always wants to start Perez and we got to see why in the back end of last season. He needs to up his game a bit, though, as Muto looks a decent player.

      • Paul Patterson

        Yeah, I didn’t make that very clear.

  • Peaky

    Karma I think it’s referred to…..where are Stoke City now ???

  • ScreamStevie

    “Either Rafa doesn’t read The Mag, or he doesn’t think my opinion is worth listening to”


  • Damon Horner

    Two games in, Rondon had very few pre-season minutes while Joselu had a lot and is already established within the squad. I agree with Paul below, Rondon will make appearances from the bench until the sharpness is there and he will then likely start games.

    • Down Under Mag

      Exactly, it’s about fitness. Had Hayden not had a brain fart and got sent off then I suspect Rondon would have come on. I also back Rafa on leaving Joselu in the side since he scored one and set up a great chance against Spurs and to drop him for the next game would have sent a very bad message to the fringe players.

  • NUFCDan

    Mitrovic played 65 time for Newcastle, I don’t get it when people say he was ‘barely given a chance.’ .

    • Ram Kishore

      I think he was ‘barely given a chance’ under Rafa.. he never played many games under Rafa..

      • Down Under Mag

        Probably because he wasn’t suited to the way Rafa wanted us to play. That is a legitimate reason for him to not get a game…the manager needs to have that call. It may seem like negative football to some but if we had gone out to play flair football last season we would have gone down with a record low points total and probably still not scored many goals.

  • SuperDesHamilton

    He’s in the team because it’s all we have & could attract with this regime in place

  • Philippines

    Same old stuff…. another writer that knows better than the manager. I only read the first couple of paragraphs. How do folks like this find so much write about very little?

  • BanJones

    The thing is Andrew, Rafa watches them in training all week, has all the medical reports and is a seasoned winning professional football manager with a plan for each game and for managing the squad over the season. I’ll go with his judgement if that’s OK?

  • Kneebotherm8

    There will be no change in transfer policy,Andrew,because Ashley is more than happy with any 10th to 15th placing in the premier league… more and no less……well 16th or 17th would be more than acceptable too.

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    Perez got us thirteen points single handed which kept us up. Would stick to fishing as you know nothing about football. Putting the milk bottles out would be a good job for you.

    • Gareth Jones

      Single handed????

  • Kenny

    The Hoss is a good guy but not up to the job in the premiership.

  • DeadToiler

    Cruel and spiteful comments. Perez has been one of our better players. He came closest to scoring against with shots on target against Cardiff. Joseph does his best, took his goal well against Spurs and set up Kenedy tremendously. If you can’t get behind the players go and support a better club like Barcelona. You’d probably still find something to moan about.

    • theoriginalbomberman

      Perez has about 40-50 seconds of brilliance in a 90 minute match the rest of the time he’s anonymous.
      He’s a talented player but I don’t think he suits the Premier league at all he’s very lightweight, he wants more time on the ball than he has and ends up giving it away 4 times out of 5. If wants to play at his potential He’ll be better off moving to La Liga or Ligue 1.

      Joselu does get far more hate than he deserves considering he was a 5 million bargain signing we’re literally getting what we paid for with him. I don’t think Perez being so lightweight helps much either. He would be more effective partnering up with Muto.

      • SuperDesHamilton

        He’d get kicked all over in Ligue 1

  • Down Under Mag

    We paid a world record fee for Shearer way back when and a club record fee for Owen some 13 years ago. The fee we paid for Joselu would probably be the equivalent of getting a 300k player back in those days. Joselu is a very hard worker who has some limitations that come with a player only valued at 5m in todays market and that is not his fault and I think the amount of grief this guy gets from some sections of fans is bang out of order. We signed a bargain player who grafts his knobblers off every game but somehow the fans give him stick because he hasn’t turned out to be the next Ronaldo.

    As for Perez, I for one think he is a good player for us but hasn’t really pushed on as much as I thought he would. However, he has been an important player for us in the absence of better signings and again, not sure why he is in for such stick. I think certain members of the fan base need to come back to reality and stop blaming the players because the club refused to sanction the purchase of better. We’ve had plenty of bad players who never tried for the club who cost a fortune for what they turned out to be…at least all our players put on that shirt and give their all and I think it’s about time they get support despite their shortcomings rather than getting stick because of the owners own shortcomings!

  • SuperDesHamilton

    Too long we’ve celebrated ‘hard workers’ players who will run for 90 minutes but have zero talent like Joselu. Unfortunately with this regime it’s all we’ll be likely to get when where spending nothing

    • MadMag83

      I seem to remember the frustration amongst fans during the Pardew era, calling the likes of Sissoko a mercenary, and asking for players who not necessarily win but try.

      We now have a team who try and fans are slaughtering them on here. You couldn’t make it up!

      • SuperDesHamilton

        Sissoko wasn’t talented or hard working he was rubbish full stop with a spine made of custard. Ben-Arfa gets slated despite being the only player who could make things happen on the pitch. People wanting him to defend and track back were utterly mental

        • MadMag83

          Sissoko does have the talent, as he showed on the odd occasions against the likes of Chelsea, Spurs, Liverpool etc. Just didn’t try the rest of the time.

          Ben Arfa was a strange one, very good footballer on his day but inconsistent. I don’t think fans minded him not helping out defensively when he was on form, but when he was on a bad day then he needed to make more of an effort to get involved.

          • SuperDesHamilton

            I can barely remember a time sissoko played well maybe his second match against Chelsea. How we got 30 mil for him I’ll never ever know

          • MadMag83

            It was a combination of media hype, self promotion, a few stand out games against the big boys, and a half decent Euro’s.

          • SuperDesHamilton

            He paid his own contract up to join us & that was still too much money

  • MadMag83

    We’ve played two games. Rafa may well mix things up over the next few games. And as for Joselu, I very much doubt Rafa is playing because he’s “useless”, some times managers stick with a striker to try and get them confidence, or because they play the way the manager wants to play.

    I have no doubt we will see more of Rondon and Muto over the course of the next couple of weeks.