There was one common denominator that ran through the Newcastle United transfer business this summer.
As well as once again having the services of Martin Dubravka and Kenedy, Rafa Benitez was allowed to bring in five new faces.
Yoshinori Muto arrived from Mainz (who finished fifth bottom of the Bundesliga) whilst the other four new faces were all recruited from clubs that had been relegated.
Free transfer Ki and £6m centre-back Federico Fernandez came in from Swansea who ended up 18th and dropped out of the Premier League, loan signing Rondon from rock bottom West Brom, whilst Fabian Schar was brought in from Deportivo who dropped out of La Liga.
Recruiting players from poor teams obviously doesn’t always equal bringing in poor players but it does point to a potential issue of trying to turn around players who had got so used to losing and playing in a failing team.
If you’re honest as well, it also shows just where Rafa Benitez was reduced to being able to shop, it wasn’t as though there was any great competition for these players.
Naturally we all hope they can prove any doubters, such as myself, wrong – and so far Fernandez and Rondon have started reasonably well.
However, it does get a little bit awkward when you get new players talking about what a great squad Newcastle have in terms of spirit and unity etc.
Not many of us take much notice of these kind of typical club generated quotes anyway, when any player says it, as which players ever come out and say how rubbish things are within the squad…the big exception in recent Newcastle history of course being Jamaal Lascelles when calling out his teammates in the last relegation season.
What caught my eye this morning were quotes from Federico Fernandez, saying about how good this squad is: ‘Team spirit is good…A really good group here.’
The thing is, we all know that if we looked back last season you would find the same quotes from the defender about Swansea’s squad, Ki without doubt saying the same, Rondon about West Brom and Schar when at Deportivo.
We want to believe we have a committed group of players all pulling together and hopefully we have, despite the recent media claims.
However, I do worry when I was at the Forest game and Newcastle hardly won a second ball, whilst at Cardiff I definitely didn’t think the NUFC players were at the same level as the home side’s players when it came to desire.
Bottom line is surely that every team should be committed at this stage of the season and it is once the pressure is on that you really find out who can pull out of it.
Eventually Newcastle came out of it ok last season but in that mid-season run of one point from nine matches there did seem to be developing issues with spirit and resolve, which happens in almost every team when on such a run.
The bottom line is that a winning team is a happy and unified one and also how you get the confidence to go on, it is essential we get that first win as soon as possible to ensure that the confidence and spirit of both fans and players can carry us through this season.
Only the talking on the pitch really counts.
“I have found a really good group here.
“I think during the season everyone has a bad run – it happens with (playing) the big teams.
“Now we start our season and we make sure we keep pushing each other, play good football and win games.
“I’m here to help everyone, I’m happy to play and push the guys, I think the team spirit is good and we need to carry on for the next game.
“It’s nice to see everyone involved and helping the team to be stronger, we (the summer signings) are ready and available for the gaffer.
“We’re disappointed not to take anything from the last two games in the league and we deserved more.
“We played well, stayed together, working really hard and showed great team spirit.
“We are close, stayed in the game until the end and created two chances in the end, considering we played at a difficult stadium against a great team, we’re happy with the work of everyone.
“When you concede early on, it’s quite difficult.
“We tried not to give much space between the lines to them. Then, when we recovered the ball, we did quite well with the first two passes.
“We scored a beautiful goal but their second goal was a great goal.
“We kept pushing and it’s difficult to stay in the game with them, but we did it quite well.”