Not signing Salomon Rondon would have made sense apart from…
After Rafa Benitez, Salomon Rondon was the next biggest talking point as the 2018/19 season came to a close.
Would the top class manager stay?
Would Newcastle United’s player of the season and most productive NUFC star be signed permanently?
The two questions/issues intrinsically linked.
Was Mike Ashley prepared to try, or even interested in, convincing Rafa Benitez to sign an extension?
The experienced and talented manager wanting to turn around the club as a long-term project with realistic investment in the first team, as well as in the likes of the Academy and the long promised state of the art training complex.
Rafa also wanting the freedom to use any transfer budgets as he saw fit, which was where of course Salomon Rondon became a key figure.
As we now all know, Mike Ashley had zero interest in trying to retain the manager and also zero interest in buying the NUFC player of the season.
Ashley purposefully ensuring no suitable offer was made to Rafa Benitez and also refused to allow any bid to be made for 11 PL goals and 7 assists striker Rondon, due to his age (29).
So it was back to the preferred Mike Ashley model, a desperate puppet head coach who took the job on the understanding he had no say on transfers, with instead the owner and others behind the scenes making those decisions.
The fact that eventually more Premier League level money has been spent in 2019, meant that there was at least some hope that Ashley’s way of running the club might not immediately lead to a third Premier League relegation in 11 PL seasons under this owner.
Survival is looking a lot more likely after the last two games/wins but still in the balance as we speak, whilst in truth relegation should never have been even a remote possibility if things had been handled differently.
Obviously Rafa Benitez was the big one BUT I still that even with Steve Bruce, sights could/would have been set far higher if Salomon Rondon had still been bought.
Newcastle’s first choice top five further up the pitch this season are clearly Almiron, Joelinton and Saint-Maximin as the front trio, with Sean Longstaff and Hayden in central midfield.
Ahead of this season, the five of them had this many previous Premier League starts:
8 Sean Longstaff
A total of only 53 between the five of them.
I don’t think any other club would choose to take such an unnecessary risk on relying on so many inexperienced players in the most difficult/key positions – creating and scoring goals.
Obviously you don’t want an entire team of players who are older/experienced but surely it was a no-brainer to buy Salomon Rondon. He had three solid seasons at West Brom in the Premier League and then had stepped up another level in this 5-2-3/5-2-2-1 system Rafa had expertly introduced, with more ambitious spending on attacking players Rondon’s influence could be even greater.
To decide to dispense with the Venezuelan international was just crazy,from the start of the season he could have been the reliable rock to build the attack and season on. With the younger/PL inexperienced players feeding off his leadership and know-how.
Indeed, I wouldn’t have even seen it as a choice when it came to signing Salomon Rondon or Joelinton, why not both?
The Brazilian had already shown he was versatile and just had his best ever season playing wide for Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga, not through the middle.
My preferred plan would have seen Newcastle buy Rondon, Joelinton and Saint-Maximin, which along with Almiron gives four excellent attacking options. To help balance the books Newcastle could have sold Perez (as they did anyway), Gayle and Muto (Bruce not seeing any use for either anyway) and not bothered with the ridiculous Andy Carroll signing, a player who can’t even get fit enough to start a game and hasn’t for some time.
As I mentioned above, the question should have never been one of survival this season, it should have been one of how far NUFC could progress AND the team ready from the start of the season to deliver that, with a afar better balance of experience and youth.
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