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Opinion

Happy New Year for Newcastle United – Definitely Maybe

6 months ago
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Newcastle United have become infamous over the years for being unpredictable, both on and off the pitch.

Nobody can say for sure what is now going to happen off the pitch but on it, we know what we are going to get week in week out, at least when it comes to the plan.

Rafa Benitez sets his team up to defend in a structured and disciplined way, it doesn’t mean that attacking/scoring goals is completely forgotten about, but it does mean that priority is given to all 11 players knowing and accepting their jobs when it comes to preventing the other team scoring.

It has produced mixed results but Rafa sees little alternative to going with this approach due to the players that are available to him, whilst overall, you doubt if any supporter would believe Newcastle could have had more than 18 points at this stage with any other approach.

As we tick over into a new year, there is little doubt that the manager will be saying anything other than keep calm and carry on.

Sadly, all of the other off the pitch factors that could help change the situation that manager, squad and players find themselves in, are more confused and uncertain than ever.

We all head into 2019 with zero certainty on Mike Ashley going, Rafa Benitez staying, or better quality players being targeted.

It is difficult to get away from believing that there is anything other than two polar opposite sets of circumstances…

Mike Ashley goes = Rafa Benitez signs an extension and is finally allowed to target the level of signings needed to take the club forward.

Mike Ashley stays = Rafa Benitez leaves this summer and the club continues to stumble along, spending the minimum amount possible and hoping it is enough to stay in the Premier League or indeed return to it.

The media reports in these four weeks since Mike Ashley’s Sky News appearance hardly help matters, for all the talk of exclusives and updates, we know nothing more than what the NUFC owner said on 3 December 2018.

Optimists hope/assume that a takeover is quietly progressing behind closed doors, whilst pessimists think here we go again and just more smoke and mirrors.

Dreams of winning trophies, qualifying for Europe and all that, are now things that nobody even bothers talking about. Future hopes all rest on whether Mike Ashley stays or goes.

Not that anybody thinks new owners would automatically equal trophies and/or European football, just the fact that they could at least be talked about once again as something to be aimed for.

The 1990s saw John Hall take control of Newcastle United, whilst the 2000s ushered in Mike Ashley.

Only 12 months remain of the 2010s and just maybe the most important year ever seen at the club, when it comes to the ownership and direction moving forward.

Happy New Year – Definitely Maybe.

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