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Opinion

These key points have not changed for Mike Ashley and that is his Newcastle United downfall

2 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 Joe Donnohue:

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 is a 2/10.

Ashley’s changed his outlook, purely because we were relegated again, but the key points have never changed, and that’s his and the club’s downfall.

What is your best guess as to what is happening with Mike Ashley and Rafa Benitez with regard to the manager staying on?

My guess is as good as George Caulkin’s, is as good as Steve from Wallsend’s.

Nobody knows what is happening or being discussed other than those two parties.

One thing we can say though, is that wars have been started and lost in the same amount of time it has take to get the most important man in the recent history of our football club to sit down and talk about the future.

It shouldn’t be difficult, but we shouldn’t think otherwise; it’s coming up to 12 years.

Three words that describe your current mood regarding Newcastle United?

Apprehensive. Realistic. Hope.

How would you rate (out of 10) Rafa Benitez last season on:

Transfers

Tactics

Entertainment

Overall

it is 10/10.

What else could he have done with that squad and those first ten fixtures? – it stands for all departments.

Due to the transfer policy he has operated with one hand tied behind his back for the entire duration. And let’s not pretend the £120m earned from TV money this year won’t equal the wage bill + the odd transfer.

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

Old Trafford, away, 2-0 after ten minutes. Pure euphoria. An away end in complete and utter disbelief. People at a loss as to how we’d scored twice in such quick succession.

A horrific result but for that first half, incredible. I suppose that does say a lot about the fact that my first real season was 2002/03.

If Newcastle stuck with exact same squad of 2018/19 (not including the loan players), what would happen in 2019/20?

Without loan players…no Rondon, no Premier League football club, simple as that.

Rondon had a hand in 18 of our 42 Premier League goals this season, the joint-most since Shearer in 2003-04.

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

Yes, because the rivalry is healthy, and it’s good seeing them beaten regularly on a national broadcast channel. Also no, because League One is so anonymous.

Is signing Salomon Rondon for £16.5m and paying him Premier League wages a no-brainer?

As above, Rondon is a no-brainer.

Anything other than that is wilful neglect and an acceptance that the transfer policy that has relegated Newcastle United twice is more important than the solid judgement of a manager who has won almost every major club honour there is to offer.

Eight players (in order) that Newcastle definitely need to keep for next season (not including this past season’s loan players)?

Dubravka, Ritchie, Perez, Schar, Lejeune, Dummett, Longstaff, Almiron.

The three positions most in need of strengthening?

Right-back, central midfield, striker.

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

First – Ritchie vs Bournemouth (A)

Second – Rondon vs Bournemouth (A)

Third – Schar vs Burnley (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?

Massively.

If you can’t produce your own players, you are always buying and with premiums going up, British players are now like a commodity.

Rafa can’t build a project without huge outside help.

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