Rafa Benitez believes our ‘Premier League experience’ and new squad members available to Steve Bruce will mean we survive this season – but hints a top 10 finish is only possible if our summer signings perform.
The Spaniard seems to break our squad down into three categories – ‘Young’ players who’ve now gained Premier League know-how over the past two seasons (Lascelles, Hayden etc.), our new squad members (Almiron, Longstaff and new signings) and the more senior and experienced players in our ranks (Ritchie, Dummett, Dubravka and co.).
This makes you realise that a healthy balance of experience, youth and talent remains within the squad, and it seems Rafa feels confident we’ll stay up as a result – although we know all too well that it takes more than just quality to stay up in this league.
The club’s former boss also asks Newcastle fans to give both Bruce and his new team ‘time’, emphasising the importance of our support – even if we “are not happy with how things have been done”.
Here’s what the Spaniard has had to say about the current crop during his debut piece for The Athletic:
“Before their first game, I wished the players, fans and Steve Bruce all the best and I meant it sincerely, because they deserve it. Arsenal was their first match of the season and their first with a new manager, so we have to give them time.
“The signings we made to take us from the Championship have more experience in the Premier League now. I think the combination of “our” young players, like Jamaal Lascelles, Isaac Hayden, DeAndre Yedlin and Javier Manquillo, the new squad members like Miguel Almiron and Sean Longstaff, together with the experience of Paul Dummett, Matt Ritchie, Martin Dubravka, Fabian Schar, Florian Lejeune, Federico Fernandez, Jonjo Shelvey, Ki Sung-yeung, Ciaran Clark, Karl Darlow and Christian Atsu will be enough to stay up.
“The new players will have to make the difference if they want to finish better than 10th, but they will need — and they will have — support from the fans, even if they are not happy with how things have been done, because they know the club is bigger than anyone. They have to be United; Newcastle United.“
While he only directly refers to players he bought or worked with at the club, I think many would agree that we have the quality and talent to stay up this season.
My question would be: Do we have a manager capable of getting the best out of this group? Let’s hope so.
We had that and much more with Rafa, but questions marks still remain over Steve Bruce’s ability at this level – and he’s got no excuses this time based on the squad available to him.