It goes without saying that Mike Ashley selling up is by far the best scenario for Newcastle fans.

Failing that though, you would think that if he is going to cling onto the club, certain realities would surely at last dawn on the NUFC owner.

Top of these of course is that he has to convince Rafa Benitez to stay at the club, otherwise you just know for sure that a third relegation under Mike Ashley will be on the cards.

Obviously Rafa wants to lift the whole club into the 21st century, from the Academy, the training complex, right through to the first team squad.

It isn’t ideal, but it is possible to get by without sensible investment in the first two, though not the third area.

Last season Rafa worked his magic and on a very limited budget not only kept Newcastle up, but achieved a top ten finish.

This campaign, Rafa was set an even tougher task, given no budget at all for players, apart from a fraction of what he could raise from selling players. After a tough start, the Spaniard and his players are now showing every sign that survival, and maybe a little extra again, could be possible.

Thinking you can keep cheating the system, even with a quality manager such as Rafa Benitez, would be foolish in the extreme.

I have a feeling that unless the club’s owner significantly changes his position, it most definitely won’t be third time lucky next season, regardless of who the manager is.

Rafa Benitez has made two things clear when it comes to the transfer market.

The NUFC boss repeatedly saying that he needs more cash to spend, a decent amount and not unrealistic fortunes.

However, just as importantly, Rafa has stated that he needs to have the freedom to spend whatever budget he does have available, in whichever way he sees fit.

This is of course 180 degrees different to what happened with Alan Pardew and Steve McClaren, both so desperate for the job that they agreed to come to Newcastle with zero say in what happened on transfers in and out.

A policy that is surely doomed to failure and so it proved.

A bit like a serial dieter who tries the latest fad one after the other, Mike Ashley allowed Sam Allardyce to waste a fortune on older/experienced players, including free agents such as Cacapa, Viduka and Geremi.

Then it was a case of almost solely trying to pick up younger/bargain players from Ligue 1 who could grow in value.

For some time a policy existing of not buying any players over the age of 26.

Then you had the disastrous response to near relegation in 2015/16, which was only buying younger players from the weaker Belgian, Dutch and French leagues, whilst a decent level of money was spent, once again the focus on future possible rising values rather than the essential need to avoid relegation in the immediate future.

In the bizarre workings of Mike Ashley’s mind he probably convinces himself that he has been proved right, due to Mitro, Mbemba, Thauvin and Wijanldum selling for around £65m (could rise to £69m) when they were bought for around £50m.

That is if you conveniently ignore the fact that Ashley and Carr’s failed transfer policy/policies ensured a second relegation under Ashley.

Rafa Benitez wants total freedom to sign players because he has the knowledge and experience, the manager knows tying yourself rigidly to a one track transfer policy is just plain daft.

Every club should be simply looking to bring in the best possible players, with the emphasis on strengthening the team/squad where it is most needed.

Whether it is players who are young, old, or somewhere in between, sensible ambitious clubs will realise that you have to spend across the age/experience range, as well as mixing it up when recruiting from home and abroad. You also have to spend sizeable money where necessary (goalscoring and creative) and break that 2005 club transfer record, as well as picking up bargains such as Ki, Dubravka and Fernandez at times.

Ki and Fernandez might turn 30 before the end of the season and at the moment will be set to leave for nothing in 18 months time (both were given only two year contracts), but what value can you put on their contribution in this three game winning room. They were both instrumental in all three victories and are improving those players around them as well.

It is widely reported that Mike Ashley has blocked Rafa Benitez from doing all kinds of transfer deals, a lot of them due to age of players and/or the short-term nature of their likely stays and (no/limited) resale values.

It is just plain daft to employ a top class manager such as Rafa and then counter his plans as to how progress the team and club, particularly when it comes to which signings are needed.

If Mike Ashley doesn’t sell or change his ways then for sure, Rafa Benitez will walk, once again Newcastle employing a puppet as manager who will just be grateful to have the job and accept whatever crazy transfer policy the owner decides to adopt.

Having seen light at the end of the tunnel, we can’t let the darkness descend once again.

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  • Ron

    Rafa is already talking about going if he doesn’t see a chance to win anything with us, and who can blame him.

    He will go, and go with the true fans blessings.

    • Kneebotherm8

      He certainly will go with our blessings…….he’s done a fantastic job at this club under the circumstances…………everyone in football can see that……

      • Ron

        Apart from Mike Ashley – but then, is he in football? The sooner he isn’t the better.

  • Kenny

    The Fat Rat has squandered a chance in a lifetime, a World Class manager falls in his lap and he`s done nothing but abuse it.
    instead of backing the man he has done the opposite.

    • JohnnyH

      Absolutely right

    • Wezza

      I doubt the money he pilfered loves him though.

  • Lewis SG

    Ki is class. When he was first signed many were skeptical and claimed that he was signed for the purpose of selling shirts. Now he has proven not. Muto has also shown that he is here to play and to win games.

    • Billmag

      I was one of them but I’m all for player’s proving us punters wrong.

      • Damon Horner

        Refreshing to see a hand held up when wrong! Most people slope away pretending they never said it.

        Personally didn’t think he’d be a world beater but knew he’d be better than poor.

        • Billmag

          Rafa has put together a pretty good defence if we had decent cover for the full backs that would be complete I think.

  • t00nraider

    Some fans would only be happy if we had got Ki on a club record fee.

    • JohnnyH


      • Wezza

        Look at like they’re the same troll too!

  • Themoscow72

    Look at Man Utd and they are shelling out hundreds of millions of pounds and they are no better than us. The protesters would be happy if we shelled out £100m on players and they did not fit into Rafa’s plans and never played. Atsu and Murphy £20m alone and hardly play.

    • JohnnyH

      Monk you are a loony.
      I think the general consensus among sports fans, and the respective positions occupied by both teams in the current PL table, would be that they are in fact better than us.
      Their spending has ensured they have strength in depth and ample cover in every team position.
      Whilst we are never more than a few injuries or suspensions away from disaster.
      Post us a funny one, your better at funny ones.

      • Rabid Dog

        In addition to which manure are consistently in the champions league and require a bigger higher quality squad to compete in that league and qualify for the next years competition.

        We dont as we have no ambition for either.

      • Themoscow72

        As I said above we were better than them on the day. Had the linesman and referee done their job probably we would have beaten them.

    • Ron

      If Man Utd are no better than us then we’ll have the same odds (cos the bookies know) of avoiding relegation / winning Premier League as they do, or at least there would be an even chance of finishing level with them by the end of season. I don’t know the prices – I don’t use their websites but if I did I suspect they would show you as being mistaken, just a tad, a rather large tad though.

      • Paul Patterson

        9 points better than us and they are having a poor season, we an average one.

        • Themoscow72

          Had the ref and linesman done their job probably it would have been three nil to us. We are as good as them on the day and you must agree if you saw the game.

          • Damon Horner

            I do agree with some of what you say but you need some realism here. Real Madrid have been European Champions 3 years on the bounce yet they got hammered recently by Eibar. Little Eibar. Personally I don’t think Eibar are multiple European Champion quality.

            Most teams can beat most team’s on any given day, isolated results aren’t reflective of a team’s quality.

          • Paul Patterson

            Since when is the PL a cup competition?

      • Themoscow72

        Did you see the game there was no difference between the two teams.

    • KennySamsung

      I think the problem with Man Utd is a manager who can get the players playing better.. simple as!

    • Toon Arnie

      Man Utd are no better than us ? They’re in the Champions League !

  • Wezza

    In THAT summer window all we got is loans, freebies and cheap replacements. A full on downsizing operation further reducing the wage bill. There is hardly anything left to squeeze.

  • X2

    Rafa’s going. Ashley isn’t going to change his ways. The drive to the make all things Newcastle United as tatty and bargain-basement as possible will continue. Even more godawful Tat Direct signage will be squeezed in. When relegated we’ll get back up sooner rather than later due to the clubs financial power. When in the PL Ashley will continue to strip £30+ million a year. It will be blue and red stripes soon.

  • KennySamsung

    It’s not all about the money, it has been proven with a good manager you can put together a mid table team cheaply, a playmaker and very good centre forward £45m? surely that’s not beyond even Ashley, with a good manager that would then take the team into the top eight or better.
    This unfortunately will never happen because the headache for Ashley will then be to increase the size of the squad for European games
    The more you think about it the more you want this guy out as soon as possible.

    • X2

      As you said – it will never happen.

  • Stephen Clifford

    Man utd are a poor shadow of what they should be. If we tighten up our play and add just two more Quality in midfield and attack, we can match them, as we did in the game. Rafa got it wrong when he carried on playing attack in that game. Rafa did warn that in first few games we would struggle and with the exception of letting an out of form Kennedy take a pen against cardiff, he has been proved mainly right.