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Rafa Benitez was ‘backed’ with £1.8m attacking trio and for Steve Bruce it is £81m – Says it all

1 year ago
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These past five weeks have seen Rafa Benitez exit as Newcastle United Manager and Steve Bruce arrive as NUFC Head Coach.

In the job less than three weeks, the Head Coach has already seen £60m committed to two new players.

Joelinton arriving for a reported £40m, whilst Allan Saint-Maximin coming in for £16.4m, which will quickly rise to £20m with ‘easily obtainable’ add-ons.

When you then add Miguel Almiron, that gives us an £81m attacking trio at Steve Bruce’s disposal.

Tomorrow (Tuesday 6 August) will mark exactly 12 months since Salomon Rondon arrived at St James Park.

Rondon going on to be player of the year and the key figure in survival from relegation, directly involved in 18 of the 42 NUFC Premier League goals, scoring 11 and seven assists.

Interesting to compare and contrast the ‘backing’ Rafa Benitez got, compared to now.

The summer 2018 transfer window saw Mike Ashley cynically starve Rafa Benitez of transfer funds, an enforced £20m profit on deals in and out, with the owner then taking £33m out of the cashflow after the window closed.

The main attacking options to keep Newcastle up last season were Ayoze Perez – bought for £1.8m in 2014 and loan signings Kenedy and Salomon Rondon, £1.8 worth of investment in total.

Kenedy had been a big hit on loan early in 2018 but Rafa Benitez was not allowed to make any offer to buy him.

Whilst the same was the case with Rondon, despite having sold Mitrovic for £22m (rising to £27m), Rafa Benitez wasn’t allowed to make any cash bid for the striker, who had a release clause of £16.5m.

Ashley even made it as difficult as possible for Rafa to get Rondon in on loan, haggling over the loan fee meant the potential signing dragged on for ages, the new number nine arriving only just before the transfer window closed and with no proper pre-season behind him. To get the loan arranged, Rafa even had to agree on Dwight Gayle going in the other direction, something the manager was loathe to do with so few attacking options.

Quite remarkable the job that Rafa did with such a total absence of support, Miguel Almiron eventually arriving on 31 January 2019 with only hours of the transfer window remaining, the NUFC boss then showing just what he could do once getting any kind of support in the transfer market, Almiron’s signing still only brought it to around a £1m net spend for the season.

After only 21 goals in 26 games (an average of 0.84 goals per game), once Almiron made his debut as a sub at Wolves we saw the team manage 21 goals in 13 matches (an average of 1.62 goals per game).

The change was remarkable both in terms of results and especially goals, with Rondon, Perez and Almiron clicking.

That 1.62 goals per game in those final 13 matches last season, even exceeded Rafa’s overall goals average per game in his Premier League managerial career.

The Spaniard seeing his teams average 1.53 goals per game overall, the same as Kevin Keegan.

This table showing the entire career records in the Premier League when it comes to points per game and goals for and against.

As you can see in this comparison, Steve Bruce average just 1.03 goals per game across his managerial career in the top flight, far worse even than Sam Allardyce and the likes of Pardew, McClaren and Kinnear.

We all know that Steve Bruce played no part in the signing of any of this £81m trio but like Steve McClaren before him, the Head Coach has been handed players that he should be expected to get something very decent out of.

McClaren proved useless, as most Newcastle fans suspected would be the case, making a right mess and relegating a team that should never have went down.

Can Steve Bruce do any better or will this prove to be yet another Mike Ashley uncoordinated disaster?

We are about to find out.

Steve Bruce has said this weekend that he would be happy to go into the season without any more signings and is ‘delighted’ with the business this summer.

Bring on Arsenal…

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