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Opinion

Rafa Benitez sums up difference between Newcastle United spending £6m and £20m on a player

3 months ago
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Rafa Benitez watched on as Newcastle United put in an ‘interesting’ performance on Saturday.

Newcastle were decent and Brighton abysmal in that first half, Perez putting the visitors ahead but the manager left wondering why his team didn’t bury the Seagulls in that opening 45 minutes.

Then after the break, Brighton tried a little bit harder and that was enough against a Newcastle side who suddenly looked very limited, simply because the opposition were finally putting pressure on the ball, rather than stand 10 yards off the NUFC players.

I think Rafa Benitez will have learnt a lot of valuable info from the game.

Pointers for this summer and next season, if the manager stays…

I saw a quote that summed up the match for me and indeed sums up the position Newcastle United and Rafa himself find themselves in.

Asked if Miguel Almiron had been a miss on Saturday, Rafa Benitez admitting:

“I think Atsu did well

“But he is a different kind of player (to Miguel Almiron), more in between the lines, he can go behind.

“But he does not have the thirty/forty metre runs that Almiron has.

“So when defending deep, we didn’t have that.”

Rafa Benitez never nags players out to dry like Alan Pardew used to do but in his own way, the Newcastle boss is summing up the position the club find themselves in due to Mike Ashley’s refusal to allow proper investment after promotion two years ago.

You can still get relative bargains in defensive positions as the NUFC boss has shown with Dubravka, Schar and others.

However, you can’t really cheat the system when it comes to creative players and goalscorers, any bargains are the exception to the rule.

When Rafa Benitez was forced to replace £20m Almiron with £6m Atsu, it was there for all to see.

Christian Atsu isn’t a terrible player, he just isn’t good enough for the Premier League.

Miguel Almiron makes things happen, Atsu doesn’t.

Almiron ran the length of the pitch with no support at Bournemouth and won the free-kick from which Rondon scored his excellent free-kick.

The Paraguayan also with that stunning long range shot that Jordan Pickford could only parry, for Perez to make it 2-2.

I can’t even remember Atsu having a shot this season, nor creating any chances. There might have been one or two but I can’t recall them.

The Ghanaian is a tidy player who plays safe passes but rarely ever gets anywhere, he has no impact on game after game, as we saw on Saturday.

Rafa Benitez has been forced to buy far too many Atsus (Joselu, Manquillo etc), players bought on a limited budget because he has had no option, so at least he had a squad.

On the other hand, the manager has been allowed to buy very few Almirons.

That surely is the key to Rafa Benitez staying, he doesn’t want to be constantly battling relegation thanks to a squad populated by far too many players who aren’t good enough. He must be backed with a decent number of Almiron level signings and allowed to move on players who simply aren’t of the necessary level.

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