Rafa Benitez avoiding relegation after £100m+ net spend – This is how many calling that success
It is over 18 months now since Rafa Benitez last managed a Newcastle United match.
The 12 May 2019 saw Newcastle visit Craven Cottage and come away 4-0 winners.
The final five games of the season providing plenty of optimism for Newcastle fans.
As well as the 4-0 win at Fulham, Rafa Benitez showing various ways of playing and often winning.
A 1-0 win away at Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester and a 3-1 defeat of Southampton at St James Park. A draw at Brighton and a thrilling very unlucky 3-2 home defeat to title chasing Liverpool, completing the picture.
Indeed, the 10 points from the final five matches was simply a continuation of an ever improving season. Mike Ashley having insisted on a £20m+ transfer market profit in the summer 2018 window and the loan signing of Salomon Rondon only allowed very late on, Rafa Benitez built over the course of the season and the final 28 PL matches of 2018/19 had Newcastle with the 8th best form, in the final 16 the 5th best form and the 5th highest total of goals.
What could possibly go wrong?
Just imagine this sliding doors moment, Mike Ashley waking up one morning, patting Lee Charnley on the head and saying to him: ‘You know what, this Rafa Benitez might know something about this football lark.’
Mike Ashley arriving by helicopter at the training ground, telling Rafa Benitez they were immediately looking to start work on the state of the art training complex promised first in 2013 and at the time said to be ‘essential’ if NUFC were going to be able to compete, Ashley adding that the Spaniard’s plans to revolutionise the Academy would be fully backed and properly funded, whilst for the first team squad – a commitment to a minimum of £100m net spend over the course of the next three transfer windows.
Eighteen months on, if Rafa Benitez had been allowed a £100m+ net spend, do you honestly think that a single person would be saying: ‘You know what, that Rafa will have done a brilliant job if he keeps Newcastle up this (2020/21) season.’
Rafa Benitez did a really good job in stabilising Newcastle United after promotion and gradually improving the team and squad, working with individual players and improving them, then improving them as a unit, nowhere better seen than what he did in putting together a defence that was seventh best in each of his two PL seasons at SJP.
Both seasons Newcastle were 11 points clear of the relegation zone. This was seen as a very decent job because he had to do it with mainly his Championship team / squad and some added budget buys and loan deals. Needing a new striker on promotion, Rafa Benitez was allowed £5m to bring in unwanted Stoke reserve Joselu, brilliant loan deals done later for Dubravka and Rondon, brilliant and not so brilliant loan deals for Kennedy.
Properly building a team for the future was not an option.
Moving forward though to November 2020 and where would we now be with Rafa Benitez still in charge.
Well, nobody, not anybody, would be saying Rafa Benitez will have done a superb job if only Newcastle could avoid relegation this season.
I think Rafa Benitez would have done a serious overhaul on the Newcastle team and squad with £100m+ net spend allowed in these last three windows.
I think he would have taken the £30m for Perez, then also sold on the likes of Shelvey, Ritchie, Gayle and others.
Miguel Almiron on 31 January 2019 was the first signing Rafa Benitez had been allowed to make that was a step towards building a far more competitive team, I think with a £100m+ net spend with extra cash generated by selling Shelvey, Ritchie, Gayle etc…we would have seen a proper midfield playmaker brought in, maybe another central midfield signing as well, Rondon signed permanently, two quality wing-backs, a centre-back, plus another striker and a winger / attacking midfielder.
I think those seven or eight signings could comfortably have been afforded if Rafa Benitez had been allowed to wheel and deal.
Instead of suggesting staying up would be a success, I believe that with the team / squad Rafa Benitez could / would have built by now, people would think top eight is very realistic and that finishing outside the top half would equal failure. Plus, with the increase in quality players, Newcastle would be playing far better attacking football and scoring more goals, as was the case in that run of Rafa’s final 16 games once Almiron came in to help.
What might have been.
Instead we are on this constant loop of terrible negative football under Steve Bruce, his mates in football and the media saying what a brilliant job he is doing and that Newcastle fans have to be realistic, that staying up is what it is all about.
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