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Opinion

The five best Newcastle United players have all been recruited since promotion

5 months ago
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The crux of the matter is that under a Mike Ashley ownership there will always be a severe lack of proven Premiership quality in the Newcastle United squad.

Rafa Benitez has the side very well schooled defensively and we will always be quite hard to beat. There isn’t a bad defender among our centre backs with each one of them bring differing qualities to the table, but it’s further forward where we have massive problems to solve this summer, that’s assuming that the manager will still be in situ.

We all know that the club aren’t going to go out and buy top tier players at £50m each as we simply can’t afford to, that’s fine by me. The gripe I have is that we aren’t even competing for the next rung down or even the rung after that.

Our best players (in my opinion) are Dubravka, Lejeune, Schar, Almiron and Rondon, all of which have been additions from after we achieved promotion in 2017, the rest of the squad were Championship players two years ago, with nearly all of them having been part of relegated sides, many of them as Newcastle players.

Regardless of their merits or lack of; Darlow, Fernandez, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Manquillo, Diame, Ki, Shelvey, Joselu and Ritchie were all relegated with teams not good enough to be in the top division.

Even Rondon was from a relegated WBA side and Ayoze Perez was from a second tier Spanish club. I like Rondon and sometimes Perez gets a bit too much stick but you can’t expect all these players to simply be great over the course of a season and pull up too many trees. The standard of the player dictates the standard of the club and that is at a good Championship/poor to average Premiership level and that’s IF the planets align and/or are coached by a decent manager.

Don’t believe me? Ok. Ask yourselves the question…What would Alan Pardew or Steve McClaren get out of this side?

Those two managers had supposedly better players at their disposal than Rafa Benitez, but couldn’t organise or motivate a priest to go to church. Take Rafa out of this club and the whole thing will collapse like a pack of cards, that is obvious.

The last great side we had at Newcastle United was under Sir Bobby Robson, but the tactical side of his game wasn’t the level of Rafa Benitez. Oh how Rafa would like the Speeds, Solanos, Roberts, Bellamys and Shearers at his disposal?

That said, just because some of the players we have at the moment were from relegated clubs, doesn’t mean they are outright bad players. I like Fernandez, Ritchie, Ki, Clark and Lascelles but the trouble is we are too over-reliant on this sort of player too much of the time. That’s where investment comes in and we at Newcastle are the poor relations of the Premier League in terms of quality and strength in depth. Take a couple of players out and we will be well and truly in the clarts.

Two full seasons in the Premier League  and we’re still using core Championship players and relying on them to shoot us up the table to safety. Our 10th place finish last season can now be highlighted as a great achievement from Rafa Benitez, along with the effort of said group of players, but our owner has allowed another situation to rear it’s head once again. In 2012, the club way overachieved and finished 5th and the lack of investment was criminal. The end result? Poor manager and players punching above their weight will result in a decline in performance and boy did we see that.

You can’t keep dipping into the Championship and expect players to give superhuman performances week in week out. Mike Ashley has the best of both worlds at Newcastle, He has his pride and joy emblazoned across international television for all to see, has the ego boosting claim that he owns a Premier League football club and has a world class manager (who approached him for work and not the other way around) performing heroics on zero net spend. If he doesn’t know how lucky he is then someone better tell him.

For Ashley the gamble will always remain, how little can he get away with without the whole thing crashing down? He’s been doing it for twelve years and failed twice with numerous near misses.

The likes of Everton, Fulham and West Ham have spent absolute fortunes (£100m+) in an attempt to do well in this league and have had difficult times of late, Fulham in particular coming completely unstuck this season. I promise you, it wouldn’t have happened at either club with Rafa in charge of things.

Everton are only eight points better off than Newcastle and West Ham only four. All that investment and that’s what you get? It puts our ‘achievement’ into further perspective. Everton spend more on an overrated goalkeeper (£30m) than we at Newcastle see spent (net) on the whole team and there are rumours that if we don’t take the plunge and sign Salomon Rondon this summer, Everton and West Ham are two clubs willing to pounce. Believe me, they WILL.

People have said that Rondon at 29 isn’t worth £16m, utter rubbish! Even if he was after a five year deal, that would mean the deal costing a mere £3.2m a season, an absolute pittance. Free spending clubs like West Ham and Everton won’t think twice at that price.

Instead, we at Newcastle have to put up with the owner’s pathetic buy and sell for profit policy which has proved to have mixed results at best, cataclysmic results at worst. Yet still the charade continues.

Rafa Benitez has always insisted that it’s all about ‘the project’ at Newcastle United but he won’t get that here, survival is the aim of the game for Mike Ashley.

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