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The 11 most valuable Newcastle United players who need to still be here next season

1 year ago

There are now under five weeks of the Premier League season to go for Newcastle United.

So we have asked a number of regular/irregular Mag contributors about the state of Newcastle United.

What has/hasn’t happened this season and maybe more importantly, what is likely to happen moving forward.

Next up answering questions is David Punton:

The 11 Newcastle players you would most like to see still at the club next season (including players currently on loan), list them in order of importance.

Rondon, Perez, Lascelles, Dubravka, Longstaff, Almiron, Schar, Shelvey, Dummett, Atsu, Ritchie

How would you sum up how you feel as a Newcastle fan at this moment in time?


There is a great deal of uncertainty about the future at a club that has consistently lack strategic vision under the Mike Ashley regime. The manager is yet to commit to a new contract and it feels like everything hinges on that decision.

Another school of thought is that things could be hell of a lot worse, the fact they’re not going down is thanks to the genius of Rafa Benitez.

As it stands now, do you think:

Mike Ashley will still own Newcastle United when next season kicks off?

The likelihood is that Mr Ashley and his cronies will still be on the scene come August.

We get told he wants to sell but the asking price is too high for a club that needs investment in the squad, the stadium and the training ground. Only a crazy offer will persuade him to go. We live in hope.

The day Ashley sells, whenever that might be, it will probably come completely out of the blue. I just hope he’s gone before I’m drawing my pension. For now we are stuck with him and question marks remain about how willing he really is to sell up. The notion that sale stories are all a smokescreen to sidestep investment cannot be ruled out.

Rafa Benitez will sign a new contract?

The Rafa question is one that all Newcastle fans wrestle with.

It should be really easy. A no brainer. Instead, with our owner, it’s more complicated than Brexit.

In early January it looked bleak, as the club made heavy weather of yet another transfer window. The record signing of Almiron, albeit via an increased bank overdraft, seemed to calm the waters and it felt 70-30 in favour of Benitez staying. More recent noises hint that a deal isn’t agreed and it’s back to 50-50.

Newcastle is a good fit for Rafa in the Premier League, so if his heart rules his head he may agree to an extension, but not the five years we all hope for. We’ll know soon enough but I’m sticking by a prediction I have previously made: Rafa will stay. If I’m wrong we’re in trouble.

Salomon Rondon will be bought by Newcastle?

If the club was run properly then Rondon would be signing. It’s not, so the uncertainty over our number 9 remains at a time when Everton and West Ham are reportedly keeping an eye on the situation – and both of them would easily meet the fee and wages.

Rondon will more likely be signed by NUFC if West Brom don’t get promoted and they agree to a swap deal involving Gayle plus cash.

Which three positions (in order) do you think need improved via the transfer market?

Strikers. Centre midfield. Full back (I’m gonna cheat and say a fourth – we need a new option out wide too).

Do you think Newcastle are still in danger of relegation?

While we’re not mathematically safe there is always a risk, but it’s in our hands and Cardiff need a miracle, so the odds are firmly in NUFC’s favour.

It looked decidedly bleak before the winning run at home saved the day.

Looking back, during that losing run at home before Xmas the club looked doomed. Credit to the manager and players for getting out of it. They just need to finish the job off. The Palace game felt like sod’s law – losing when only one more win will just about get the job done.

With the players/resources available to him, which position in the table would/should Rafa Benitez have been fairly expected to achieve?

The quality of the squad available to Rafa means that the placing in the league table is entirely accurate. We’ve got plenty of heart but we’re lacking the quality of a few others above us who seem capable of putting more winning runs together.

If Newcastle stay up, will it be due more to the failings of others or Newcastle having deserved it?

We will have deserved to stay up due to the fact we put a series of wins together when all hope looked lost.

That day we took on Cardiff when we were in the bottom three was massive. Beating Man City nothing short of a miracle.

The fact Fulham wasted £100m, Hudderfield’s chickens finally came home to roost, and Cardiff did what we all thought they would, have been a help, for sure, but our lot have dug themselves out of the muck and nettles and put the situation within their own hands.

Is racism a major problem for English football these days?

There will be a minority of idiots at all clubs, sadly. A huge amount of work has been done by the FA and Kick it out, but more needs to be done. Social media has given the morons a new platform, sadly. Is racism worse in football on the continent? I would say yes.

After 12 years under Mike Ashley of never getting past the fourth round of the FA Cup, and seeing Watford, Brighton and Wolves in the sem-finals this season, are Newcastle fans now too accepting of this situation?

Of the many evils foisted upon Newcastle United by Mike Ashley, the approach to the FA Cup is high on the list.

I certainly have come to accept that every season we won’t do much and will put out a vastly changed side that gets found out. It feels like it’s a curse. What more can fans do? I can see this FA Cup farce going on for years and years until Ashley has sold up.

Is Rafa Benitez totally innocent when it comes to the ongoing failing to compete in the cups?

It’s hard to criticise Rafa, as he has this knack of being proven right, but where the FA Cup is concerned maybe he does need to be given a mention. He is the one who changes the team and that is what leads to the early exits. He feels he has no choice given the cup run stretches the squad.

One might point to Brighton as an example. Their cup run has coincided with a plummet down the table, but there again Watford are in the final and they have still done well in the league.

It’s a tricky one for Rafa. If a key player gets a bad injury in a cup match there will immediately be some who will say ‘why didn’t he make changes’. The FA Cup exposes the lack of depth in the Newcastle United squad and the root of that problem is Mr Ashley.

Robbie Earle recently said that it should be a ‘Big Seven’ in the Premier League, with Newcastle part of the seven. Discuss.

I can see where Robbie Earle is coming from, given what we’ve seen in the past under Keegan and Robson. NUFC can be a juggernaut when it is done correctly but those days are long gone.

We have no god given right to be up there and it takes investment, something the club sadly lacks. Other clubs are able to spend and get deals done while we’re in the slow lane. I think we’re all dreading another summer of this farce. To see us being outspent by Bournemouth, Watford and Palace is soul destroying.

Until that changes we wont be in the too half, bar some sort of Rafa miracle if he were to get a better budget and say in who comes in. Claims Ashley has reverted to the no over 25s policy is absolute folly, if true.

Do you see any loan players (Gayle, Aarons, Lazaar, Saivet, Murphy, Colback) having a part to play at Newcastle United next season?

None of them. It’s harsh but true. Gayle isn’t big enough for the Premier League but would he be better option off the bench than Joselu? Yes, he would.

Murphy has potential but the move doesn’t seem to have worked and he’s not pulled up any trees at West Brom. Jury’s out on him. The rest who are out on loan are dead wood and need to be moved on to free up wages. Aarons is huge let down after showing such promise.

You can follow the author on Twitter @DavePunton


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