Now that the dust has somewhat settled I thought I would take a look at where we are and where we are heading. Firstly I have to say I am very pleasantly surprised that the club has managed to secure the services of Rafa Benitez. It cannot be underestimated how important that was. You would have to think that with him at the helm we have given ourselves the best chance of a swift return to the premier league.
Having said that though, we still need to exercise a note of caution. There are a lot of hungry teams down there who have and will spend big to gain entry into the worlds richest league. It’s not a given that Rafa will prevail when he is competing with managers like Pearson, Di Matteo and Villa’s likely new coach Alex Neil – who all have Premier League experience. Indeed, he has never managed in the second tier of English football before and he enters uncharted territory in that respect, though he has had experience in the second tier of Spanish football. All in all he has really put his reputation on the line and at a basket case club like Newcastle too… Who could of ever seen anything like that happening!
On the question of relegation, in truth it has been coming a number of seasons. We were branded a zombie club and it’s hard to argue against that label. Years of trying to run a ‘profit before need’ set up simply hasn’t worked out. factor in the age restriction on transfers and very average ability coaches and, well, we are where we are. Benitez had an impossible job over only 10 games – to turn around a team lacking in a mixture of confidence, ability and a few players that displayed a couldn’t give a damn attitude. That he even got a tune out of our ramshackle lot speaks volumes of the mans ability.
All that and relegation was the inevitable outcome, but has an ill wind brought us unexpected good fortune? When relegation was the end of the world for many of us, not least because of the prospect of losing the services of Benitez, do we now have the chance of reinvention? Step forward Mr Mike Ashley – so often the architect of all our woes, who now does a huge about turn on the way the club operates and moves forward.
Suddenly we have a Manager of the highest caliber talked into staying on in the second tier of English football, who is assured he doesn’t have to sell a single player if he doesn’t want to. No book balancing required here apparently, nor is there a problem now with the manager choosing who HE wants to bring into the squad, with all former restrictions seemingly lifted.
Too good to be true? Well time will tell, we still need to see Ashley & co stay true to their words and promises to Benitez, meanwhile Benitez still needs to build a squad capable of getting us back up. He will be up against some very good coaches and this will be no walk in the park as it’s arguably the toughest league in the UK.
Whether we bring in some quality loans or offer players like Agger and Arbeloa rolling or short term deals remains to be seen but we do need an overhaul of the squad because it’s not strong enough, physically or mentally in my opinion. If it was, we wouldn’t of gone down.
The good news is that under Benitez I did see real improvement, just a little too late to make a real difference. Now he has a transfer window, a pre-season and time to make those all important adjustments that are required. If he can keep hold of Townsend, Perez, Aarons, Elliot, Darlow, Mbemba and young Lascelles, well that’s a fine start. Add in the odd Championship experienced player and hopefully we’re good to go.
Benitez was right about us being a project. I do believe if he can get us back up then under his incidence and given time we could get back some of the good times and maybe even Europe if Mr Ashley backs him adequately.
Yes this is the perfect time for reinvention and not a moment too soon.