Signing Salomon Rondon on this four year contract no more expensive than buying a Josleu each year
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 Paul Patterson:
Is signing Salomon Rondon for £16.5m and paying him Premier League wages a no-brainer?
For the millionth time, over a four year deal it works out at less than £5m a season. For that you buy Joselu every year. Even if he wants £80k+ a week, just bin off a couple of fringe players and put that money towards signing the best value striker we are likely to get and one that enhances three other players instantly. He practically got us safe single-handedly. ‘No brainer?’ You’d have to be stupid not to sign him.
Eight players (in order) that Newcastle definitely need to keep for next season (not including this past season’s loan players)?
Dubravka, Lejeune, Schar, Ritchie, Lascelles, Almiron, Perez, Fernandez. Sorry, I couldn’t put them in order as it’s a team game and all are vital to each other. The only person vital to the team performing well next year is…Rafa Benitez.
If 10 was Mike Ashley totally changing his outlook on running Newcastle and 0 not at all, how far do you think he has moved (if at all) in the 39 months Rafa Benitez has been at St James Park?
It has to be around 1-3 hasn’t it?
There has been a minor shift, especially since Graham Carr left (Unless you are like me and believe he still has some influence over the players that are scouted/bought). It’s not like Rafa is asking for the earth, just the chance to buy experience, Salomon Rondon being the prime example. But in short, not a lot has changed as Rafa is STILL trying to get the transfer policy changed for the good of the club and it’s a policy that has had the club relegated.
What is your best guess as to what is happening with Mike Ashley and Rafa Benitez with regard to the manager staying on?
Difficult to say. I’m guessing that Ashley has told Lee Charnley what his stance is and for him NOT to budge on it. The owner has a familiar history of ‘take it or leave it’ attitudes and ‘walls of silence’. Look back at Kevin Keegan, he wanted control on transfers- didn’t get it. Ask Alan Shearer- planned a pre-season and waited for a response- silence!’
Three words that describe your current mood regarding Newcastle United?
Apathy, Boredom, Repetitiveness. And the cycle will continue season on season unless Rafa can get through to Ashley.
How would you rate (out of 10) Rafa Benitez last season on:
I don’t believe ALL the players that have come in have been his, or that he would have signed them if he’d been given a more realistic budget. The department where he’s probably been best furnished is at the back. Being a former defender himself he’s really improved our defence with Schar, Fernandez, Clark and Lejeune in his time here. So 7 out of 10.
Contradictory with these two but the tactics have been spot on for the position we’re in. Our defensive play has been great, we are hard to break down and when we get beat it’s normally narrow margins. We certainly have the best defence I can ever remember.
Controversially, whilst I like free flowing attacking football (Keegan and Robson if you like), I do get some perverse pleasure out of good, hard grafted disciplined football. Granted, some displays this season have been hard to watch and the Fulham game at St James’ was one of the worst games I’ve EVER sat through. However, Rafa got us safe under the constraints put on him. A 7 out of 10.
It’s hard to judge a manager until he gets as close to what he wants as possible. Imagine grading Pep Guardiola? Do you give him a 10 because he won the league? Well so he should with the money he has.
Rafa beat Man City with Newcastle at home and narrowly lost away. Rafa is fighting for a budget similar to what Man City pay for one full back. An 8 out of 10.
If you could relive one day from last season which would it be?
I think it would have to be Tuesday 29th January. After the rough start to the season and a rotten winter, when the final whistle blew against Manchester City at St James Park I knew we’d be alright, that we’d have enough to get safe. Being a goal down after mere seconds and all the hype beforehand that they’d just turn up and we’d be beaten (I had my worries), that match turned my feelings from a long end to the season to a feeling of very little worry for the next few months. Other teams just wouldn’t have enough and so it proved.
If Newcastle stuck with exact same squad of 2018/19 (not including the loan players), what would happen in 2019/20?
Obvious relegation. Take Rondon out and you have less than half the side. Perez is less of a player, there is no outlet and our only striker would be Joselu. Down by Xmas.
Would you like to see Sunderland back in the Premier League?
Let me get this straight, I hated the derby games the last few years. It’s difficult to get motivated for derby games when you know the club haven’t actively built a side sufficiently to compete in them. Sunderland have been beating a ‘ghost’ Newcastle the last few derby games. We’ve been set up to survive and as quickly as possible. Winning derby games doesn’t come into it. That will only change if Rafa changes the club policy and we actually target something higher than survival.
The three positions most in need of strengthening?
Striker, right back, central midfield. But the wings also need some TLC.
Best goals from Newcastle players last season, what is your top three (in order)?
Schar vs Burnley (H), Ritchie vs Bournemouth (A), Rondon (2nd goal) Bournemouth (H)
As well as a decent transfer budget, Rafa Benitez has made clear that Newcastle have to also show ambition when it comes to the new training complex that was promised years ago, as well as investment in a fit for purpose Academy. How integral do you think these things are for both Rafa and the future of the club?
It really shouldn’t be that hard to improve all three. If Rafa feels the training ground/Academy needs updating then that’s fine by me. Mike Ashley should be bloody grateful to the Academy as it got him £35m for Andy Carroll and has produced a gem in Sean Longstaff. Even if it’s done in stages, surely a couple of million a year can be found. The stadium needs seeing to as well, surely it doesn’t cost that much to get a tin of paint from Homebase?
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