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Opinion

Newcastle United ‘Stuck in Limbo’

5 months ago
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Last season is now receding fast for Newcastle fans, with the hopes and worries of supporters now directed towards this summer and next season.

The days are now ticking by in the transfer window and fans still awaiting news on Rafa Benitez and his contract situation, never mind new signings…

So we have asked a number of regular/irregular Mag contributors various sets of questions about the state of Newcastle United, reflecting on the 2018/19 season and the issues that face us now.

Answering questions here is Newcastle fan/writer Tony English:

How hard is Mike Ashley trying to convince Rafa Benitez to stay (as a percentage)?

The truth is we just don’t know, but it appears to be less than 100% and that in my opinion is unacceptable.

How confident (as a percentage) are you that Rafa Benitez will sign an extension?

I don’t want to think of the repercussions around the team and fanbase if Rafa goes, it would be a dark day in the club’s history, a sea change, a real wasted opportunity.

I feel it’s 50/50 at the moment, with the odds falling the closer we get to the end of Rafa’s contract.

Three words that describe your current mood regarding Newcastle United?

Stuck in Limbo.

The three positions most in need of strengthening?

Owner

Managing Director

Press Officer

Of the current squad, please divide the players into…:

I’ve looked at squad changes based on an unlikely ideal world, with Rafa staying and being financially supported. The following changes should maybe be over the next three transfer windows to move us to the next level, wholesale changes in one window could diminish the great team spirit the squad has.

Definitely need to keep for next season:

Dubravka, Lejeune, Schar, Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie and Almiron are obvious no brainers. Their effort and application matches, and often surpasses, their skill levels. They are great examples of scouting the man as much as the player. They all appear to be great pros.

Longstaff needs to be retained and nurtured. He can become a vital player for us if his development continues, we can’t let another Carrick slip through our fingers.

Unfortunately, Hayden needs to get away, as he should be in this category too. It’s a sad indictment if the medical help for his daughter isn’t available in the North East but I suspect it may be the support of family as much as anything.

Woodman should be retained as a developing pro and Fernandez and Ki should definitely be retained as squad members.

Don’t mind if they stay but if decent offer comes in then sell:

Gayle is quite a critical player for us this summer, he is arguably the most saleable asset we’re looking to shift, who may also need to be retained if the purse strings aren’t loosened. He needs to go….but we may need him if no significant signings are made up front.

Similar could be said of Jonjo and Perez, certainly they would bring in 15m+ a-piece, so the funds they could generate may be required to reinvest. Shelvey doesn’t look to figure in Rafa’s plans, Perez is probably worth persevering with as he has it in him to be the player we’ve seen in flashes and add consistency to his game.

Murphy is a massive frustration, after learning he was a Newcastle fan as a kid I can’t remember a signing in recent seasons that I’ve wanted to succeed as much as him. I hope he comes good but it’s unlikely, I think he’ll stay as it’s unlikely a bid over 7 or 8 million could come in. Muto is in the same boat, he needs a run in the side and to show more, hopefully he’ll settle and kick on.

Yedlin, Clark, Manquillo and Darlow all still have value as squad members, but not as starters.

Need to be moved on:

Saivet, Sterry, Lazaar, Colback, Aarons: all dead wood, I’d be surprised if even one fan would retain any of them.

Atsu, Joselu: just not good enough, cash in for pennies.

Elliot, Diame: good servants but their time is maybe up.

If you could relive one day from last season which would it be?

The Cardiff away non-performance. If I could relive that day I’d stay on the beach with the kids rather than waste two hours of my holiday on my own in the only dusty decrepit pub I could find showing that rotten display.

Thankfully Hayden turned his season around but that day was the end of Kenedy. None of us as fans should have to live through performances like that, can I have that day back please.

What’s your choice for best three Newcastle goals of last season (in order)?

Ritchie : Bournemouth away

Schar: Burnley home

Ayoze: Late winner against Pickford…just for the sheer joy of it.

Would you like to see Sunderland back in the Premier League?

Only if you could guarantee they’d finish with a record low points haul, we’d beat them nine or ten nil twice, then they’d drop back down two or three divisions again.

To be honest, I’m quite happy that they’ve found their natural level.

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