Rafa Benitez has cut a frustrated figure so far this season.
The manager making clear that the disastrous transfer policy since promotion has left his team/squad desperately short of quality.
Whilst Bournemouth, Fulham and others were shopping for £20m+ players this summer, the Newcastle boss was forced to rely on loans, free transfers and bargain buys.
I don’t know of any other club where before every single transfer window we hear of top level vital meetings/summits to decide what the plan/state of play is, and how this will impact on what happens in each of those windows, only for each window to pass by with no visible plan having been in place. Apart from of course Mike Ashley insisting on as little money as possible is spent, these past four windows of the five Rafa has experienced under the NUFC owner, following a very similar path.
Thursday morning sees claims of the latest ‘summit’, with the Chronicle reporting that Rafa Benitez is set to ‘chair a meeting’ to find out supposedly what is happening/going to happen in the summer transfer window, as well as the younger age groups – Mike Ashley having refused so far to bend at all with regards to a properly funded first team squad, Academy, or the long promised training complex that would be fit for purpose.
I’m not doubting the reporting of this meeting happening but the actual report hardly offers any hope, despite claiming Newcastle fans will be hoping the outcome could be Rafa Benitez signing a contract extension.
The Chronicle says ‘it remains to be seen whether Mike Ashley’ will be at the meeting, well I think we all know the answer to that one.
Talk of Lee Charnley being able to push anything along is also surely a joke, with the widespread acceptance now that it is the likes of Justin Barnes and Keith Bishop who pull the strings on Ashley’s behalf, despite the NUFC owner refusing to make their roles transparent at the club.
The newspaper says Rafa already knows he will yet again have a ‘limited budget’ in January, which then surely clears away any remotest of chances of anything changing for the better, in terms of squad strength and the chances of the manager staying on.
These meetings are pretty irrelevant in the great scheme of things, unless Mike Ashley sells up or changes how he operates – we hope for the first of those but have zero expectation of the second.
Until Mike Ashley goes, it is the equivalent of repeatedly moving the deckchairs around on the Titanic.
‘With a contract extension currently unsigned, Benitez has concerns about the club’s next transfer window as well as the club’s Academy and Under-23 set-up.
Benitez is set to chair a meeting at St James’ Park later this month with managing director Lee Charnley, head of recruitment Steve Nickson and the club’s European scout Paul Baker all expected to be present.
Although, it remains to be seen whether owner Mike Ashley will be there with Charnley responsible for the day-to-day running at the club.
The Toon boss knows he is operating with a limited budget again going into the January transfer window
Benitez was keen to make changes to the youth system and the second string last summer but the collapse of those negotiations with Charnley and Ashley mean things have came to a bit of a standstill.
Newcastle fans will hope that the meeting could eventually result in Benitez’s committing himself to a new deal.’