Rafa Benitez is having it tough, his Newcastle United team find themselves without a win in 10 games and deep in relegation trouble.
To add to is troubles, the media, or at least much of it, isn’t exactly playing fair either.
The way the media report on the situation at Newcastle doesn’t really tally with how they cover other clubs.
If you were ask people what the main reason is for Manchester City being such hot favourites to win the Premier League, they would overwhelmingly answer with one word – money.
If you asked the same people why Cardiff are hot favourites to go straight back down, the answer once again would be – money.
Put simply, Man City have the most expensively assembled team/squad, whilst Cardiff have the least expensive when it comes to constructing their squad.
Surprises can happen and clubs can do better, or worse, than their transfer spending suggests, but when it comes to expectations – then it is surely fair to judge all clubs/squads the same at the start of the season, based on what price level clubs have bought their players at.
However, this isn’t always the case…
On Saturday, this was Southampton’s bench:
£0 Ward-Prowse (came through the ranks)
Their bench cost £75m.
In contrast, 11 of the 14 players Newcastle used on Saturday cost a combined £32m, even when you then add in Shelvey, Ritchie and Muto, it still comes to over £8m less (£66.5) than Southampton’s subs.
£4m Dubravka, £5m Yedlin, £4m Lascelles, £6m Fernandez, £0m Dummett, £12m Ritchie, £13m Shelvey, £5m Diame, loan Kenedy, £2m Perez, £9.5m Muto SUBS free Ki, loan Rondon and £6m Atsu.
Yes you can say Rafa Benitez maybe should have done this or that differently.
Yes you can say the team should have managed at least one effort on target in 90 minutes.
However, nobody can claim that Newcastle are on a level playing field with even Southampton, when it comes to spending on the team/squad.
Yes, when Newcastle play Manchester City, the media will include mention of the difference in spending on the respective teams/ squads.
However, I never see any mention when it comes to games against the likes of Southampton.
The reality is that due to Mike Ashley’s actions/inactions on transfer backing, Rafa and his team are massively punching above their weight if they can beat a team such as Saints, based on cash invested in the team.
Southampton went out this summer and spent £13.5m on a reserve goalkeeper (Angus Gunn), in two and a half years and five transfer windows, Mike Ashley has never allowed Rafa Benitez to spend that much on any first team starter, never mind a squad player!