An interesting one from Sky Sports as they raise the question of whether Rafa Benitez needs help in the next transfer window.
They pose the question are ‘January reinforcements needed?’ at Newcastle United and there obviously is only one answer, a conclusion they come to as well.
Despite the undoubted lift these consecutive wins have given, the fact remains that Newcastle go into tonight’s match with Burnley only one point off the bottom of the table.
The good news is of course that there are plenty of other clubs down there, at the moment six clubs divided by only one point.
Sky Sports point out just how key tonight’s game and the following five look for Newcastle’s prospects.
Points must surely be stacked up as Newcastle face Burnley, West Ham, Everton, Wolves, Huddersfield and Fulham…because that is then followed by seven games where they play five of the ‘big six’.
Nobody can say for sure that Newcastle’s season will be decided by these next six matches but matches like tonight are surely set to be the type of results which will end up deciding where Rafa’s team end up.
Tonight kind of sums it up because a victory would suddenly open up a definite if small (four points) gap above the relegation zone (and with a significantly better goal difference compared to all of the other relegation strugglers). A defeat would ensure Newcastle stay right in the thick of it, whilst a draw would see NUFC inching a little further towards safety.
Newcastle’s team tonight is set to see the main reliance for goals and creativity on a trio of players who are free transfers (Ki) and loans (Kenedy and Rondon).
This sums up just how seriously Rafa has had to put his team together on a shoestring.
As Sky Sports indicate, this has to change in this next transfer window: ‘They will need all the help they can get to navigate that tricky January fixture list.’
Sky Sports pose the question and answer it:
January reinforcements needed?
Will Benitez get financial backing from Newcastle owner Mike Ashley in the January transfer window?
He will certainly hope for more than he received in the summer, when Newcastle spent a relatively modest total of £22.5m on new faces, meaning they made a profit of more than £20m in the market.
Benitez has admitted he feels more optimistic following the recent team meal with Ashley, when he was able to help relations by speaking to the owner face to face.
He knows my ideas and I know his ideas,” he said.
“Still, I have a lot of confidence and I’m very positive about this team. But still, if we can do something, it will be better. I’m very realistic and I know January is a difficult window. At the same time, you are having meetings with scouts and are working on that.”
Having only scored nine goals in 12 games so far this season, and despite Rondon’s recent form, attacking reinforcements are likely to be Benitez’s priority.
The Spaniard wants to sign Atlanta United playmaker Miguel Almiron, according to The Sun, while Andros Townsend, Troy Deeney and Bordeaux winger Francois Kamano have also been linked.
It remains to be seen who Newcastle will be able to bring in, but what’s certain is that they will need all the help they can get to navigate that tricky January fixture list.
Tougher tests ahead
Newcastle’s fixture list after Christmas heightens the need to get points on the board now.
It begins with a trip to Anfield to face Liverpool on Boxing Day. Three days later they face Javi Gracia’s Watford at Vicarage Road, then there is a home clash against Manchester United, live on Sky Sports on Wednesday, January 2, and a trip to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge 10 days later.
Their fixture list pits them against lowly Cardiff on January 19, but their following two games are at home to Manchester City and away to Tottenham, meaning that between Boxing Day and the beginning of February, Benitez’s side face five of the big six in the space of just seven games.