What is success for Newcastle United this season?

If you had just arrived from another planet you would see a club that had got relegated, bounced back immediately as champions, then finished 10th in the first season back in the Premier League.

You would no doubt be thinking great momentum, massive opportunity to progress, show ambition in the transfer market and then every chance on top eight this season and also, who knows what then happens if everything falls right and one or two of the usual suspects (relatively) struggle.

Obviously, this hasn’t happened.

Success this season for most Newcastle fans is survival, with anything else a bonus.

However, whilst our enemies are claiming Newcastle supporters are kicking off because money isn’t been spent to enable us to challenge Manchester City, I honestly worry about the physical and mental state of this NUFC squad when it comes to even being good enough to avoid relegation

When I say physical, I mean in terms of ability, do Newcastle have a better team and squad than at least other Premier League clubs at the minute? I’m not convinced.

I would say Cardiff are definitely worse off than NUFC, probably Huddersfield, but after that I can’t say for sure.

Beyond that though, I am concerned about the mental side of things, in terms of drive to win and the rest of it.

I don’t mean that they don’t care but supporters of every club will hope/expect that their players care, so why should we think ours automatically care more?

When you had players such as Alan Shearer, as well as his ability, you knew that it meant so much more to him when he played for Newcastle compared to any other team The same with other local lads such as Clark, Watson, Elliott and so on. Whilst we also recognise it in many other players from outside the region who formed such a close attachment to Newcastle United over time.

It became a club that they believed in and they were desperate to keep playing for in the years ahead.

Now I look at it and this appears to be a team/squad only really for the here and now.

Forget about whether you thought they were good enough or not, imagine a scenario whereby a 22 year old Merino and 23 year old Mitrovic were first team regulars this season and that in the summer we had bought 22 year old Kenedy (instead of a loan), plus maybe another couple of promising up and coming players in their early 20s.

You could then potentially have a core group of players seeing how they can grow together and get collective success here, with more to come later.

Even look back at the promotion team/squad, you had the likes of Shelvey, Lascelles, Ritchie, Gayle, Yedlin and others, full of enthusiasm and thinking with a few quality players added in summer 2018 and then summer 2019, Newcastle could be really going places by now…

Instead, it all smacks of short-termism, with minus (net) money to spend, Rafa Benitez having to cobble together the best he can get for a pittance, to try and get through this season.

Four of the seven summer signings signed contracts for two years or less.

Rondon and Kenedy on loan until next summer with no agreed option to buy for either, whilst 29 year olds Ki and Fernandez were signed up for only two years.

Rafa’s had no choice but it is just storing up problems for the future and even the very near future. Relegation in 2015/16 came about after many years of failing to invest properly in the squad before Ashley realised/accepted how dire the situation it was and despite then allowing half-decent spending in summer 2015, it proved too little to late.

This is no way to run a football club.

That promotion team of 2017/18 was a great base that just needed quality drip fed into it, rather than bargain basement signings such as Atsu, Joselu and Manquillo to fill shirts in the squad to ensure we had numbers.

This is how the squad currently stands in terms of when players see their contracts run out:

June 2019: Rondon, Diame, Kenedy

June 2020: Darlow, Joselu, Manquillo, Fernandez, Ki, Elliot

June 2021: Shelvey, Ritchie, Hayden, Perez, Yedlin, Clark, Schar, Atsu, Lazaar, Saivet, Gayle, Aarons

June 2022: Dummett, Dubravka, Muto, Lejeune

June 2023: Lascelles, Murphy

Even if Newcastle stay up, you have three first team players leaving as they are out of contract or back to their parent club, another six of the first team squad with only a year left on their contract, with the bulk of the squad (another 12) only with two years to go – a time when if you want to keep them longer you have to really get them signed up on extensions and not let it get to a year to go and probably lose them for nothing.

On top of this of course, is that grim reality that unless Mike Ashley sells up or has a personality transplant, we know Rafa and Lascelles will surely be off.

A failing Academy lacking the investment needed, a substandard training complex that was supposed to be replaced by a state of the art one years ago, as well as St James Park that has the bare minimum spent on it.

The substandard infrastructure that has suffered year after year through a lack of care and investment  by those at the top, is now looking set to be mirrored by a squad that is suffering the same from Mike Ashley and his people.

We have the manager and fans who are more than ready to go the long haul with Newcastle United but when you have an owner who is only interested in getting by on a year to year basis on the lowest spend possible, you have no chance.

That is our reality unless we see the back of Mike Ashley.

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  • Kenny

    there is no future at Newcastle for the players or the fans, the Oaf will continue year on year with loans & shirt fillers in the hope it is enough to avoid relegation,
    once Rafa leaves the whole house of cards will crumble.
    the Fat man has set his stall out, like it or lump it.

    • Wezza

      Yep, I keep hearing people saying we will avoid relegation… then what? Avoid it again? And again. We are going nowhere under MA and the sooner he is out the sooner we can rebuild our club!

      • Kenny

        it is always the same schitt, just a different year

    • Dave Pattinson

      Wonder how long it’ll be before Fatboy tries to introduce zero hours contracts for players? 😂 seems to me he’s using the same methods at N’castle that he uses for employees at Shirebrook. Everything short-term. Does anyone actually have a clue just what the club’s aims actually are? Presumably just to stay up….oh, and to take the cups seriously ! Forgot about that last one.

      • Paul Patterson

        He sort of does.
        The wages are at 2008 levels. Our highest paid player is Shelvey at £70k. Ten years ago it was Owen on £100k.

        • Leazes.


          • Paul Patterson

            Well, what’s £15k between scoundrels..

          • Leazes.

            Shearer was happy…. he had it in his contract that he would be the highest earner…. he got an instant pay rise when the waste of space signed up!

            Shola was there to balance the books…. a third tier striker happy to be understudy.

      • Ron

        Looks like the Mackems have already introduced zero hours contracts for players, some haven’t turned up yet!

      • Carverlier football

        I know what the club’s aims are – advertise SD…

  • Paul Patterson

    Back in the days with players you mention, in 95, players saw ambition.
    The current crop merely see the club as a job (they will still try as they are professional) and will be trying through their agents to find them another one when things go pair shaped.
    The regime encourages demotivation and as a consequence failure..

  • mactoon

    I can only hope the short term contracts and lack of spending on transfers is an indication that he is penny pinching in order to get the club in a good financial state in order to attract a potential buyer. We can all dream! (Sarcasm alert)

    From a players point of view I wouldn’t worry about their attitude as they can be safe in the knowledge that if they play well and are noticed by another club they will be sold and get a better deal elsewhere due to Ashley’s attitude towards the club. #steppingstone

    • Jezza

      Unfortunately the penny pinching is purely to maximise profits and generate substantial funds from NUFC for Ashley to invest in his core sweat shop business.

      • Leazes.

        I think it would appeal to Ashley’s macabre sense of humour to spend the Sky money on House of Fraser….. he gets to buy another square on the monopoly board…… and at the same time he kicks the little Scottie dog!

        So long as the movable accounts add up then all is legal.

        • Jezza

          I don’t think it was any coincidence at all that the department shop takeover was announced the morning after the transfer window closed.

          • Paul Patterson

            That was all VERY suspicious timing . .

        • Coble’s Return

          With luck, HMRC will conclude their investigations just as Charnley lands on the “Go Straight to Jail” square.

      • mactoon

        I know, I was being sarcastic 😊

  • Leazes.

    They either don’t know what they’re doing or they do!

    I think they know exactly what they’re doing…..

    …….. micro management of the finances without regard for football!

    We’ve said before that it was sort of like the ‘moneyball’ philosophy with Charnley and it is, we’ve had the chronicle ‘serialise’ the memoirs of the maintenance man Rutherford the retainer over the last few days……

    …….totally in denial over the facilities falling apart, I guess if they ever managed to get Charnley to do an interview then he’d put up the same level of claptrap as a defence!

    ….but we can’t even get him to give a defence because its undefendable!

    and he hides!

  • Ron

    I can’t understand this article, only yesterday I read Michael Owen say he thought we’d finish in the top half, and yet what I’m reading here is a doomsday scenario.
    Surely Owen can’t be wrong.
    Rafa will sign a new contract and he’ll be able to pick and sign the needed players to get us into Europe.
    It’s lovely here on my own little planet.

    • Leazes.

      If Rafa signs a new contract it will be with another club I’m afraid….. he certainly doesn’t need this nonsense.

      We learned recently that it was Rafa who approached the club to take the position and not Charnley’s efforts in securing his services. Rafa has also sacked his agent who missed the ‘golden manacles’ caveat in his contract.

      Six million a year to manage a championship bound yoyo squad?….

      With an owner playing silly beggars?

      • Ron

        Exactly – that’s why I’m staying on my own little planet!

        There’s room for more, and Cockney’s aren’t allowed. (At least those that are glorified shop keepers.)

    • Malcolm Fisher

      Ha, and pigs will fly

      • Ron

        A couple just went passed my window!

    • Mike

      can i have wot your on?

      • Ron

        It’s the only way to survive.


      • SuperDesHamilton

        He sniffs knickers

  • mentalman

    Of the players whose contracts are due to expire by 2020 there are only really 1 player not including the loan players who I’d be desperate to keep.

    Would we be happier if the likes of ki had been given a 4/5 year deal and risk being stuck with him like others we’ve had on long contracts

    • Malcolm Fisher

      “There are only 1 player”? Really. Like some of the players, un educated

      • mentalman

        I must apologise for the grammatical and structural errors of my last post, i used my phone which often changes certain words with its predictive typing.

        I unfortunately don’t get to spend my days sitting in front of a keyboard. As for being uneducated i suggest you stick to commenting about football, although you probably know as much about that as you do about my level of education

        • Foggy

          When I went to school, uneducated was one word. Looks like the kettle is calling the pot black.

    • Carverlier football

      Whether you’d want to keep them or not they would still need to be replaced. What are the chances of fully 9 players being replaced with players you actually would want to keep? It won’t be done with an average net spend of well under £5m a season…

  • JohnnyH

    Ashley knew this year he’d shell out 80 million on House of Fraser. At the same time we netted £123 million in TV money.

    The trolls can go on about separate companies etc.. But that’s why the squads looking ‘short term’ – £123 million missing that belonged in the transfer kitty.

  • 1957

    The academy fails because we have poor quality coaching staff who need replacing, watching the u 23’s is like watching schoolboys not young professionals, no organisation or structure in the team.

    Better facilities for the kids are all well and good, but it won’t make a difference unless Benitez, who is not one for putting his faith in youth in any case, employs competent people… not likely though he is said to be an admirer of Beardsley’s work and would be happy for him to return.