Five crucial areas for Benitez to address this summer if we stay up

With such a long break between games for NUFC, it’s natural that the topic of Rafa Benitez’ long term future at the club has resurfaced within media outlets. Rafa himself alluded himself to not being entirely happy this season and with his pedigree who can blame him; his loyalty to Newcastle is commendable but he will need some key things addressed this summer to stay with us.

1 – Crunch talks with Ashley – what are his plans?

They need to thrash out what’s going on. Rafa needs to know where he stands and find out if Ashley is selling the club and if not, will he actually be backed. Then Benitez will want a clear transfer kitty defined and if Ashley is ready to learn from his mistakes. Rafa won’t accept second rate facilities and resources again and I fear a sale is the only way we can keep the former Real Madrid boss on Tyneside this summer. A new contact will be on the agenda but he’ll take some convincing to commit to an owner he doesn’t trust.

2 – Keep Lascelles at the club

Chelsea interest sounds very real but he’s our rock, our captain, our best defender & the glue that holds us together. Talks with Ashley and Rafa will surely also include questions like ‘what happens if Chelsea put in a big bid’. I think his influence on and off the pitch can’t be underestimated this season, where we have lacked quality but certainly not focus.

We need to do our utmost to keep him and all our best players to give Rafa a platform to build on. We’re desperately short on quality, so it would be pretty bleak if we sold one of the few stars in this current squad.



3 – Re-vamp the U-23’a and youth teams

Several have been released recently, suggesting Rafa is ready for an overhaul. It appears like we’re being ruthless in that department now (about time) & another big recruitment drive is needed. The under belly of the first team needs improving as so few youngsters ever come through or make any impact.

The Beardsley case still hangs over us too; the youth set up has floundered during the Ashley tenure and needs to be a priority, along with improving facilities.

4 – Sign a proven striker

Nothing new and something fans have been rightly demanding for some time now. Slimani is just a loan and seems highly unlikely to arrive permanent unless he sets the works the world on fire in the few games he’ll be fit for. It’s vital we get a goal scorer. It’s almost April & our top scorer has 5 goals; breaking our club record on a new striker would give everyone a lift & give Benitez some faith that Ashley may be willing to compromise with his backing. This will be the real acid test of Ashley’s intentions as we were given the PR spin that we hadn’t been in the Premier League for a season so couldn’t spend the TV revenues last summer. That simply won’t wash this time around.

5 – Secure impressive loan signings & sell deadwood

Dubravka looks all but done but Kenedy is another who’d be great to either sign permanently or secure on another loan deal. Both have improved us significantly; we look so much more solid and threatening on the counter with the pair in the side.

Ashley’s always keen to balance the books & Benitez needs space in his squad, so selling Gamez, Colback, Saivet, Haidara, one keeper (Darlow or Elliot?) & maybe Mitrovic and Mbemba seems likely and much needed to move on, recoup some cash and build the squad.

Can you see all the pieces falling into place this summer, or is more uncertainty on the horizon?

(Fancy writing for us? Send any articles/ideas over to us at [email protected] & we’ll get back to you!)

About Simon Riddlesden

Lifelong Newcastle United fan and East Stand season ticket holder. Observations from a supporter who has followed NUFC during Champions League participation and through relegation, taking me from Milan to Scunthorpe.

54 thoughts on “Five crucial areas for Benitez to address this summer if we stay up

  1. A “five things we learnt” thread 🙂 How about a Jack Wilshere or Lee Ryder article? 🙂 Here, I will start you off:

    Wilshere is a bit shit and has very short legs that make him look like an oopaloompa.

    Lee writes the same article everyday and just inserts different names.

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  2. Squad improvement, training ground improvement, academy improvement, professional attitude improvement, results improvement and commercial improvement.

    Sort them out l, fat man and we have a chance.

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  3. Notifications from company’s house that all changes of loans have been approved,might mean nowt but who knows

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  4. Icedog:
    Notifications from company’s house that all changes of loans have been approved,might mean nowt but who knows

    where you see that ICE ?

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  5. Some of this stuff I just don’t believe. Oompaloompa refuses 80k a week to lie on the massage table for 11 months of the year. They also offered him an extra 20k for the happy ending! Arsenal were willing to pay HIM for the happy ending not the other way around. The world has gone mad.

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  6. kimtoon: where you see that ICE ?

    from a guy thats runs a couple of companys buys sells little firms but couldnt give me any more imfo other than that,mind he did say there was something going on at Barcleys there,could be them just dont know,maybe it has nowt to do with us

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  7. kimtoon:
    That England game bored me ridged, the Dutch are awful to be fair.

    Me to mate and that Bas Dost did nowt apart from keep giving. The ball away

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  8. Well, we saw what might happen in Russia with the arrests. I have a feeling that the only people going now will be the so called ultras.

    My problem is that Southgate doesn’t have a plan. He started with 3 right backs. I read The Guardian write up and they called this an experimental team. He should have things mostly set by now but doesn’t. However, he does seem to have realized Joe Hart is not the best goalie which a one eyed mole with a white cane could have told him.

    Is Henderson good enough to be the fulcrum of the team? I also know Harry Kane will play so Southgate’s hands were tied a bit.

    I can see two scenarios. It is a Mr. Roy in Brasil like disaster and we go out in the group stage. Or it is a Mr. Roy like Euros where we scrape through by the skin of our teeth in 2nd place. And then draw Germany or Argentina.

    It would be a massive success if we went out on penalties in the quarters and saw someone like Rashford, Alli or Kane emerge as a real world class player.

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  9. Argentina are not even taking Dybala as a squad player because they don’t think he can play with Messi. Fair enough, but he would be the first name in an England squad which shows how far we are behind. And we don’t really know what England are because you can’t judge from friendlies and beating up teams like Malta.

    It is probably best to go in with low expectations but you just know that even one decent performance will have the tabloids waving the St. George Cross and then crucifying the team when they fail.

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  10. For the WC in South Africa I bought a 50 inch TV and had a party for about 20 people when we played the USA. If you remember, it was an absolutely awful game but I said to people that England actually had good players and didn’t normally play like that. Then I realized that England DID actually play like that most games and it is even worse now because I think the caliber of player is much worse. We better hope that Southgate suddenly becomes Brian Clough.

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  11. I mean the Brian Clough who won the European Cup with a pretty average set of players (and Trevor Francis) not the one with a drinking problem. Although I would advise Southgate to stock up on the Jack Daniels and Jonny Walker as I think he is going to need it.

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  12. Eric, Gareth reckons he knows who’ll start in Russia, so his minds obviously made up on his squad .

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  13. kimtoon:
    Eric, Gareth reckons he knows who’ll start in Russia, so his minds obviously made up on his squad .

    Kimtoon: so what is the point of starting with an experimental team with 3 right backs and Kyle Walker at centre back? He is not going to play the Burnley players unless there is a crisis so why bother now, 3 months from the WC. Play the bloody team that you intend to play. Repetition grooves your game. Having players know where their teammates are, knowing their role will help. I just think it is totally dumb to be “experimenting” at this point, especially since, as you say, he essentially knows which team he will pick.

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  14. I hate to harken back to Mr Roy and Rooney (no I don’t 🙂 ) but it is like at the Euros where suddenly Rooney was a central midfielder and they had all of this build up time when they could have been practicing with him in that role.

    If you know your team then have them play together and play in the system you want, not Kyle Walker as a Centre Back where I would imagine he has never played in his life. PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT. What they are doing is like preparing for a Maths test tomorrow by reading your Chemistry notes.

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  15. Eric Sykes:
    I hate to harken back to Mr Roy and Rooney (no I don’t ) but it is like at the Euros where suddenly Rooney was a central midfielder and they had all of this build up time when they could have been practicing with him in that role.

    If you know your team then have them play together and play in the system you want, not Kyle Walker as a Centre Back where I would imagine he has never played in his life. PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT. What they are doing is like preparing for a Maths test tomorrow by reading your Chemistry notes.

    Exactly my thoughts mate. Why not just play your starting 11 ? games under the belt and all that.

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  16. Walker did play CB in many games earlier in his career at Sheff Utd.
    What I don’t understand is with the lack of creativity in the squad why he isn’t starting Llanana. Mind you there’s a lot of Benitez decisions I’ve never understood either.

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  17. georgio:
    International break – blog break. What would we do without them

    just hope this enforced break doesn’t steal our momentum away from us, so important the players don’t switch off. Crazy that we have gone 3 weeks without a league game in the middle of the season and we will end up playing a cluster of games in may, ridiculous situation.

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  18. Kimtoon: I think I will stay single for a couple of months. Went on a date with someone who I think might be actually insane. Outwardly not, but what 9 stone 50 year old woman goes on trips to Ukraine, Albania and Turkey on her own and doesn’t even book a hotel? I am surprised she is still alive. And she doesn’t even have a TV so I couldn’t watch NUFC if we got together. Much more. I asked her to leave.

    I think I will go the Kimtoon path for a while after this one, it has made me think twice about internet dating.

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  19. I definitely dodged a bullet there. Something went off in my head saying stay away, stay away. Like it should have when Souness signed Amdy Faye. No Graeme don’t do it!

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  20. Eric Sykes:
    Kimtoon: I think I will stay single for a couple of months. Went on a date with someone who I think might be actually insane. Outwardly not, but what 9 stone 50 year old woman goes on trips to Ukraine, Albania and Turkey on her own and doesn’t even book a hotel? I am surprised she is still alive. And she doesn’t even have a TV so I couldn’t watch NUFC if we got together. Much more. I asked her to leave.

    I think I will go the Kimtoon path for a while after this one, it has made me think twice about internet dating.

    you know it makes sense. Internet dating is a lottery mate, never done it myself but my mate met a guy on the net, he has moved in and completely remodelled her house !, there is nothing of her personality in there anymore and certainly not her taste. Her mum kept ringing me cause she thinks he’s turned her away from her family and is a control freak, she wanted me to get her to dump him. I didn’t get involved, I rarely see her anymore and the few times I met him he was ok to me, well apart from the odd lewd joke and staring at my bosom lol.

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  21. Eric, you need to be specific with your dating profile. Make it plain they must like football and specifically the Toon 😉

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  22. Kimtoon: I think this one was actually insane. I literally asked her to leave (I had to pay otherwise I would have just got up and left). Have been on plenty of other internet dates that were fun. Sorry to hear about your friend. I have heard many times that there are a lot of married men chasing tail on the internet and a lot of scammers wanting money. Luckily I am not interested in married men (or men in general) so it wont happen to me 🙂

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  23. georgio:
    Kim – Female Toon fans in Chicago might be a big ask.

    You would be surprised. The bar I go to watch games will have about 5 or 6 women in there at 8am with their boyfriends. The sport culture is different over here. If I go to a Cub’s Baseball game it is usually about 30% women in a crowd of 40,000.

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  24. Anyway. There are a lot of nutters out there so glad I identified it early. I did give her the link to Premandups self-help 12 step programme website so hopefully her next dates will go better.

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  25. Eric Sykes:
    Anyway. There are a lot of nutters out there so glad I identified it early. I did give her the link to Premandups self-help 12 step programme website so hopefully her next dates will go better.

    😆

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  26. Prem: you could help, give her some councelling (and this was only a small part of the story). I was listening to this 5-3 woman telling me it was an adventure to go to Ukraine and Albania and book a hotel $40 hotel from the airport (no prior plans made). I wanted to shake her and say, it is an adventure until it is not. You could end up dead. You have been very lucky so far. I am 6-3 and 14 stone and wouldn’t do that.

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  27. IT’S THE INTERNATIONAL BREAK SO WHAT ELSE CAN WE TALK ABOUT!!!! No NUFC players participate although some should; Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie. I have said all I can say about how short Jack Wilshere’s legs are. So why not an internet dating nightmare story 🙂 Not a very funny one but I could relate a lot more but that would be even more boring than the bloody international break itself.

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  28. Eric
    I was playing snooker with my mate when a gorgeous 17 year old girl came up to the table and asked me out on a date .
    She was insane.
    She has been with me for 52 years.

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  29. So the official reason for Jack Wheelchair being out is “tendonopathy”. I think they are just inventing new medical terms for this lad. I had never heard of it.

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  30. Watching Morocco/Serbia and Mitro is looking a real handful. There has to be more to it than he just didn’t fit or understand Rafa’s system.

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  31. You can risk taking Wilshere can you? I know Southgate is not spoilt for choice but surely lascelles, Shelvey or Dummett as backups would be better. Is Henderson that much better than Shelvey anyway.

    And Southgate is about to “shuffle the pack” again. WTF. Play your best team. Pep and Poch do it even with the wealth of riches they have. The core remains the same and they change for injury (Kane), lack of form (Stones) and to give a player a rest (De Bruyne). I know other international managers do it but the England team needs to be settled and teams like Germany have played together for years and are just adding the cherry on top, so they can afford to fart around a bit in warm ups.

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  32. ERIC imo Whltsire isn’t a good player he could hold down his place at B/mouth,apart from being a right sick note

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  33. Icedog:
    ERIC imo Whltsire isn’t a good player he could hold down his place at B/mouth,apart from being a right sick note

    Ice: I have watched him recently because I was outspoken about him and wanted to see if I was right. He is a dirty little Oompalooma who goes in for reckless challenges and has no pace. He really doesn’t even run around that much and fills up space where better players could go. Literally on the pitch but also on the teamsheet. He does a couple of decent things a game and will have one really good game a year. I don’t know where the hype comes from – I sort of do, it is from Uber Arsenal Fans John Cross and Piers Morgan in The Mirror. And he is turning down 80k a week!

    International week. There is no news on NUFC except recycled crap so why not talk about England.

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  34. Do you remember when the papers and pundits were talking about Joe Hart as being one of the top 5 ‘keepers in the world and WORLD CLASS? They really have blinders on when it comes to English players.

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  35. Been a lot of speculation that Mbemba will be moved on in the Summer. I think if we are going to move out a CB it should be Clark. Clark has done well for us no doubt about that but I have noticed a slight falling off of his performances this season. Defensively ok but distribution could be better. Is this because of his age or that the Premiership is more demanding than the Championship? As far as potential is concerned Mbemba offers more in the future. He is younger. I make no secret of the fact that I am a fan of Mbemba. However, I think Clark is a good CB but it is just a question of having to make a hard choice.

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  36. I don’t think Southgate was qualified and think experimenting at this stage is a bit dumb but at least he doesn’t seem totally stupid. He is taking Klopp, Pep and Poch’s players and paying them in their system, which are all pretty similar. We still don’t have the quality of some other teams but if he really is sticking to the high press with high press groomed players then just maybe we will get out of the group stage.

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  37. And, he did force Rooney out when Wazza was trying to engineer one more tournament before retirement. Remember he had told his Pals in the press as much, assuming he could dictate terms like he had with Mr. Roy and Allardyce. And he is dealing with the Hart situation.

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