Tony Cascarino is the latest to give us the benefit of his opinion about Newcastle United.
They say that a little knowledge is dangerous and that is very true when it comes to ‘experts’ talking about our club.
As Newcastle are still seen as a ‘big’ club in many ways and are at the very least a regular talking point, people tend to think they know more than they really do about what is going on at St James Park.
Apart from a select few who actually bother to do some research, people like Tony Cascarino think they can just talk off the top of their heads about what the issues are about at Newcastle United.
For example, they wouldn’t do the same with our current relegation partners Cardiff and Huddersfield, as they know nothing at all about them, apart from probably who manages them.
A bit of insight on Tony Cascarino, he has got some form when it comes to talking rubbish about NUFC.
Back in January, Liverpool beat Manchester City 4-3 at Anfield, the following week Newcastle lost 3-1 at the Etihad.
Tony Cascarino bemoaned Newcastle’s defensive tactics that day and questioned why they hadn’t had a go just like the scousers had.
Plucky minnows Liverpool achieved that 4-3 win with a front five of…
Nobody would call Cardiff or Huddersfield if they used similar defensive tactics but with Newcastle United, experts such as Tony Cascarino seem to have a temporary blindness when it comes to not recognising just how lacking quality and underinvested the Newcastle squad is, especially after a disastrous summer where Mike Ashley insisted on a £20m+ profit.
After Saturday’s defeat to Leicester, Tony Cascarino declares: ‘Yes, Mike Ashley is certainly not a great owner but blaming the board has gone on too long..He can’t blame the board for ever.’
He makes out as though Rafa blames Mike Ashley and the shocking lack of transfer backing after every game, he doesn’t…but the fans do.
That is because we know that the crippling lack of money made available for players means Newcastle have a very weak team and even weaker squad for Rafa to choose from.
The manager isn’t always entirely blameless on every result and performance but then no other manager is either. However, we all know the reality.
Tony Cascarino points to the lack of goals and chances created but with Rondon never having been fit and now injured, no proper investment this summer in quality strikers and creative players, it isn’t exactly a surprise.
He derides Rafa’s Newcastle for only having the one shot on target against Leicester and of course it is a shocker for the fans watching, although the lack of quality in the front third was summed up by Diame missing a sitter and Joselu not even getting a shot in when sent through one on one.
However, you can’t ignore the fact that in the two and a half years Rafa has been at Newcastle, Leicester have signed 14 different players who all cost more than Rafa’s biggest signing, £12m Matt Ritchie.
Tony Cascarino obviously sees Leicester as just an average mid-table team and maybe he is right BUT that shows the challenge Rafa and his squad face, even mid-table teams have had massive investment compared to NUFC.
Rafa’s expertise and a huge dollop of luck helped deliver a 10th place last season and it is maybe the worst thing ever because pundits and neutrals look at that and think surely it can be repeated.
The reality of course was that with different results on the final day of last season, Newcastle have ended up as low as 15th and if we are honest, that would probably have been a fairer reflection of the strength of the first team, plus we saw massive luck in terms of injuries, especially in that run from February to April where the same team pretty much played every week.
That squad which finished 10th (could have been 15th) went backwards in the summer with a big transfer profit made, whilst pretty much every rival club had a net spend at least £50m higher. Newcastle ended up running backwards as the rest did their best to move forward and get better players into their clubs.
Tony Cascarino speaking to The Times:
“Rafa Benitez should be taking some of the blame for Newcastle’s struggles, he has been getting away with it until now
“Don’t get me wrong, some of the decisions at board level have made things difficult and, yes, they haven’t spent big in recent transfer windows, but their performances on the pitch, at home, have not been good enough.
“I’m not talking about those games against the top six where Benitez sets his teams up to defend, I don’t mind that.
“I mean games like Saturday, where they are playing against Leicester City in front of 52,000 fans and they manage to have one shot on target.
“They have had only 18 shots on target in seven games all season, the joint fewest alongside Cardiff and Huddersfield.
“They have created only 32 goalscoring chances, the lowest total in the league, even Huddersfield (33) and Cardiff (57) have managed more. They have to be better than that.
“I accept that they haven’t got the strongest squad in the league but in players such as Jonjo Shelvey, Matt Ritchie and Kenedy they have skill and ability to be creative.
“At the back Martin Dubravka is a solid goalkeeper and Jamaal Lascelles is a centre-back with talent and potential.
“Yes, Mike Ashley is certainly not a great owner but blaming the board has gone on too long.
“Those Newcastle fans are brilliant and so desperate to get behind their team but Benitez’s team play with fear, I don’t remember a team who are so well supported and should be inspired, yet put in such cautious performances.
“Rafa Benitez must find a way of unleashing his team at home. He can’t blame the board for ever.
“I don’t understand how Aleksandar Mitrovic didn’t work out and he’s been impressive for Fulham, and they also sold Dwight Gayle – not a great Premier League striker but someone who will always cause problems in the box and get the odd important goal.
“Maybe the departure of those players was down to the board but Benitez didn’t seem able to get the best out of them, particularly Mitrovic.
“They have to be more aggressive at home, get the crowd behind them and give their fans something to cheer about so they don’t focus on booing and chanting about the owners.”