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Opinion

The 12 Newcastle United players that have to stay

4 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 GToon:

Does Mike Ashley really want Rafa Benitez to stay?

I don’t think he cares, as it would take any other club no time at all to convince their manager to stay if they wanted that. The contract would have been done on the last day rather than dragging things out.

This is all now time wasted. I think the biggest sticking point for Ashley is that Rafa wants to take the team forward rather than finish in Ashley’s target place of 17th. Ashley probably only understands people motivated purely by personal greed.

What do you think would be the minimum needed to convince Rafa to extend his contract this summer?

An actual investment that looks to improve the squad rather than replace like for like. Obviously there’s the academy and training complex too….(never gonna happen).

Three words that describe your current mood regarding Newcastle United?

An opportunity missed.

The current squad…

Just about good enough but only with Rafa in charge.

Please divide the Newcastle United players into the following for next season:

Definitely need to keep for next season:

Shelvey Lejeune, Ritchie, Dummett, Yedlin, Perez, Hayden, Schär, Fernandez, Almiron, Longstaff, Rondon

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

Lascelles, Gayle, Muto, Murphy, Diame, Atsu, Ki

Need to be moved on:

Colback, Lazaar, Manquillo

At what point did you first have real confidence Newcastle should be ok last season?

The Everton game.

Based mainly on how Cardiff and Brighton would do with their remaining fixtures rather than our own results. I knew we’d pick up points as Rafa has the team set up to be hard to beat.

The three positions most in need of strengthening?

Right back, number 10, right wing, although I’m not sure where Richie is gonna play so maybe left back instead of right wing. It’s hard to say as I’m not sure of the preferred formation.

With level of signings you anticipate, how high do you think Newcastle can aim next season?

None worth getting excited about. Like for like replacement at best.

It’s not about how high, it’s more about how low can Ashley risk it. Ashley will argue that it would cost too much to get us into the top six. Unfortunately he might be right.

However, the chance was missed when we finished 5th and all we bought to make the next step was Anita. Ashley has no football sense. He thinks if we finish 10th one season then we can do the same the next.

What do you make of everything that has happened/is happening at Sunderland?

Hilarious in a way and me and my lads are getting a few snacks in ready to cheer on Charlton.

However, when push comes to shove I’d much rather the three north east teams were in the EPL.

I also want the north east to benefit from the money generated by the EPL as my dislike of our rivals doesn’t extend beyond the four walls of their grounds.

Living in the midlands I’d much rather speak to a fan of the mackems or smoggies rather than a fan of some glory hunting top six club.

How relaxed are you at the minute in terms of everything turning out OK this summer?

Unfortunately, I’m very relaxed. I didn’t even know the transfer window had opened. My expectations are so low, bordering on non-existent.

I expect Rafa will stay as he is more loyal than Ashley is devious. Sort of like good cancelling out evil.

Best pieces of skill from Newcastle players last season, what is your top three (in order)?

1. Schär goal when he beat three players and then hammered it.

2. Richie goal away at Bournemouth

3. Longstaff diagonal passes to switch the play (he will get sold no doubt).

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