Assessing the NUFC squad for 2017/18 – strengths, weaknesses and potential surprise packages

Another week and more rumours of Rafa’s unhappiness with our transfer dealing so far. I image the vast majority of fans agree that we had hoped for more investment, especially in forward areas, by this point of the window. With the season now upon us, just what is the state of the squad?

Strengths

Newcastle do have some positives in the squad. We lack quality in certain areas but we appear to have good squad togetherness and players with a desire to play to a system and who want to play for Newcastle United. Both our previous relegations we went down with strong squads ‘on paper’. Mercenaries and players you use the club as a stepping stone is dangerous and something Rafa has avoided.

We also have a core of players who will have a point to prove in the top flight. Shelvey will want an England place back and Gayle and Ritchie will want to prove they can deliver in the Premier League this time round.

Young players like Hayden and Lascelles will also need to continue to improve to keep their berth in the starting XI and that challenge will only push their development.

We have had a good pre-season and racked up some good victories. Of course results mean little during the off season but the form shown from the likes of Shelvey and particularly Atsu has been encouraging. We also don’t have any major injuries to be concerned with.

 

Weaknesses

I think we lack two things in the squad at the moment: Premiership knowhow and firepower/goal scorers. Our signings so far do not have a great deal of experience in English football, and if they do it is very limited in the Premier League.

Experience shows that signings from abroad are better value but a gamble. Merino and Lejeune in particular look to be well scouted and good finds but again we are not buying ready-made players; mainly as we are a newly promoted side but also due to Ashley not investing as he promised?

This lack of investment leads us to the main concern most fans have, a lack of goals. Gayle needs to prove he can score at a higher level and has fitness problems. Mitrovic and Perez was the strike force we got relegated with last time. We need a quality striker before the end of August.

 

Surprise packages

In the squad there is scope for some surprise packages. De Jong and Aarons are both back and finally fit; for how long remains to be seen. Aarons pace could be an asset from the bench and De Jong would be a real bonus if he proves to be the player we hoped we signed three years ago. He has undoubted quality, but time will tell if he has the durability to cope with the physical demands of English football.

Manquillo and Atsu have also performed very well in pre-season and may prove to be a better purchase for the squad then we thought –  with Manquillo looking set to deputise on Sunday for the injured DeAndre Yedlin.

 

Deadwood in the squad

Supposedly hindering our attempts to bring new players in is the amount of players we still have on the books. A 25 man squad needs to be submitted for the season and we must have nearly 30 senior players. Of course there is quite a few who are surplus to requirement but are on good wages and need to be shipped out.

The likes of Saivet, Riviere, Hanley and Haidara don’t have futures of the club and many of those are examples of us offering five year deals to players and it backfiring. They don’t want to give up good salaries to move to clubs in lower divisions and on less money and their poor displays have meant strong teams don’t want them either.

Players such as Colback, Lazaar and Krul also appear to be not part of Rafa’s plans either, and the club will be busy facilitating moves for all of the above in order to free up some much needed room for new signings.

Hopefully Charnley and co. can shift out the players Rafa doesn’t want, but expect some late loan deals towards the end of the window with us still contributing towards wages.

What do you think of our current squad?

(Fancy writing for us? Send any articles/ideas over to us at NUFCblogsubmissions@gmail.com & 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.

137 thoughts on “Assessing the NUFC squad for 2017/18 – strengths, weaknesses and potential surprise packages

  1. This blog has over 38,000 likes. How come on any given day there are only about 10 people commenting?

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  2. Well, here’s a comment then. Here’s 20 players we’ll surely name in our 25 man squad, plus 12 more we’d have to name or ship out. That’s 32 players currently on our books to fit into a 25 man squad! That seems a bit silly to me…

    Goalkeepers (2)
    Elliott
    Darlow
    Woodman (U21)

    Defenders (7)
    Mbemba
    Lejeune
    Clark
    Lascelles
    Dummett
    Yedlin
    Manquillo

    Midfielders (8)
    Hayden
    Merino (U21)
    Shelvey
    Diame
    Ritchie
    SDJ
    Aarons
    Atsu
    Murphy

    Forwards (3)
    Perez
    Gayle
    Mitrovic

    For sale? (9)
    Krul
    Hanley
    Good
    Lazaar
    Haidara
    Gamez
    Colback
    Saivet
    Riviere

    For loan? (3)
    Yasin Ben El-Mhanni
    Stuart Findlay
    Jamie Sterry

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  3. TDS: but you only returned today. Where are the other 38,599 likers 🙂

    So by your reckoning we have 20 for the squad, plus Kenedy making 21. Probably add Sterry as well. So that would leave 3 spots and 1 would certainly be a goalie.

    2 more outfield players. Lucas Perez and either a holding or attacking mid-fielder (was going to MF, but some might construe that as a rude acronym)

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  4. Eric

    Actually I think Kennedy would be ok as he’d count as under 21. Not sure about the goalie either as maybe he’ll stick with those 3 I’ve listed.

    But let’s say we add Sterry, a goalie and a couple of outfield players, that makes 24 meaning that we could name 1 of those other 11 players and 10 of them would have to be sold or loaned out. That’s a lot of business to do before the end, so no wonder Ashley is a bit pissed off.

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  5. I’m not defending Ashley for anything by the way. But as the owner of a club, his staff have allowed the club to have 32 players on the books, of which only 25 are able to play in the PL. I think it’s reasonable to ask that at least some of them are shifted out before more players are brought in.

    It may be that Rafa isn’t pissed off with Ashley and the budget at all. But he’s pissed off with whoever is supposed to be shifting out the dead weight to make room in the squad for more players.

    I can’t believe that Brighton or Huddersfield have 32 players they would need to register and they’re all on high wages.

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  6. Is it true U21s don’t count in squad or have I made that up? Aarons Murphy Merino Kenedy Sterry Woodman.
    Apparently Kenedy can also play up top. Mourinho rated him very highly and you don’t get 22 apps for Chelsea without a lot of talent.

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  7. Just bought the lad the new shirt, it’s lovely, first one for years, been waiting for the new sponsor . Wanted the black strip for me but didn’t have it 🙁 have to order online .

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  8. Georgio

    I listed the U21s above. Only Merino and Woodman count out of those we have that can be considered close to the 1st team. Kennedy would too. The others are born before the cut-off date of 1st Jan 1996.

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  9. Eric

    I do wonder how many of those ‘likes’ actually read the blog and how many just like everything NUFC that they come across.

    I wonder how many accounts have been created on this blog, how many have ever posted and how many have posted in the last 3 months…

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  10. giorgio

    Yes, Murphy is. That’s why he’s on my list. He’s 22.

    And yes, it is a provisional list. but that still means that the club has got 3 weeks left to finalise that list. I’m not sure if I’m right but I think there’s only a limited number of changes that can be made to the provisional list though. Maybe 3? Although empty slots can be used up at any time I think.

    So perhaps they register those 20 I listed above , hopefully add 2 more signings and then register the most likely 3 of those 12 to play? That still leaves 9 players to shift out.

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  11. ToonDarnSarf:
    I’m not defending Ashley for anything by the way. But as the owner of a club, his staff have allowed the club to have 32 players on the books, of which only 25 are able to play in the PL. I think it’s reasonable to ask that at least some of them are shifted out before more players are brought in.

    It may be that Rafa isn’t pissed off with Ashley and the budget at all. But he’s pissed off with whoever is supposed to be shifting out the dead weight to make room in the squad for more players.

    I can’t believe that Brighton or Huddersfield have 32 players they would need to register and they’re all on high wages.

    TDS – totally agree with you mate, and before Carr is made the scapegoat, it was Charnley and the managers Ashley employed that also signed off on these below quality players. I’m afraid it does come back to Ashley in the end coz installing sub standard managers can only ever result in sub standard squads. Rafa got on with it last season coz those players were of that level of football. But the rebuilding started this summer & it was never going to be easy.

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  12. I reckon we should be able to shift most of the players we don’t want, even, as TDS says, with subsidized loans. Colback, Hanley and Darlow will find a home somewhere and probably at one of the Championship contenders, depending on who gets off to a slow start. They could all do a job at a team like Hull who have parachute payments and are making sales.

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  13. Spurs have to be favourites but it is unlikely to be a cricket score. NUFC.com report that Spurs beat Leicester 6-1 and Hull 7-1 in their last 2 away games and I think Merse is using his simplistic logic to extrapolate from that. But, Rafa’s teams don’t often ship loads of goals. And, I know we are not Man City but I watched the pre-season game and they absolutely battered Spurs, it was 3-0 and could easily have been 7. Spurs are not invincible and of the 13 goals in their last 2 games last year Harry Kane scored 7. How often does that happen?

    BTW Ice, Merson’s prediction record is not that bad. Sky did an analysis and he did a little bit better than break even last year if you had put money on every game according to their odds. But just like all of them, he is wrong as often as he is right.

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  14. Don’t despair Icedog. I think the preliminary 25 man squad is announced tomorrow. If Colback is not in it that will tell us Rafa’s intention. Even if he is in it he is still up for sale.

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  15. Eric Sykes:
    Don’t despair Icedog. I think the preliminary 25 man squad is announced tomorrow. If Colback is not in it that will tell us Rafa’s intention. Even if he is in it he is still up for sale.

    But who would buy him ffs?there was a whisper Hull/Villa were asking about him but it hasn’t progressed any further mores the pity

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  16. The Carabao Cup? Sounds stupid. Never heard of them. Just call it the League Cup, because that’s what it is.

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  17. I am going to make a prediction about predictions. I haven’t seen if he has made his yet but I predict that Lawro will predict we will lose and Liverpool will win. And I don’t know if Liverpool are playing home or away or even who they are playing.

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  18. Just looked it up and Lawro goes up against Brendan Foster and Steve Cram in his weekend predictions which brings some NE flavor to it. Foster goes for a NUFC 5-0 win and Lawro goes for a 2-0 defeat. But, wonder of wonders, Lawro only has Liverpool drawing at Watford.

    Usually if you go by Lawro’s predictions Liverpool would have won the league most years. I am shocked at his restraint at not predicting a win as it is quite possible. Maybe it is provoked by some self awareness at last as more and more people have noticed his bias towards Liverpool in his predictions.

    I don’t think many have recognized his anti-NUFC bias. But they will.

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  19. I looked at Lawro’s predictions for last year and he is not bad – but the top 6 and bottom 5 were pretty easy after a few months so you just have to go with form. But, Liverpool did win the league jointly with Chelsea and went unbeaten

    Liverpool W 27 D 11 L 0 Points 92
    Chelsea W 29 D5 L 4 Points 92

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  20. lot of unrest inSpurs dressing room at the minute all the players are poorly paid they say Danny Rose has kicked it off and the players are praising him for doing it

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  21. icedog:
    lot of unrest inSpurs dressing room at the minute all the players are poorly paid they say Danny Rose has kicked it off and the players are praising him for doing it

    Ice – their gripe is that WH and Palace are paying some of their players more than Spurs are theirs.

    These over privileged fools don’t know the real world man. Arguing and twisting over a pay rise of 20-25k per week. That’s properly in the region of the average U.K. annual salary!!.

    I won’t have this argument that football is a short career anymore either. Yes it is – but if I work 50yrs on £25k pa then in my working life I’d make £1.25m.
    If one of these ********s gets paid £25k pw they make £1.3m in a year.

    I’m honestly starting to hate top flite football coz of all the money and greedy around it. ??

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  22. The way Rose has gone about this is absolutely embarrasing if you ask me. I hope other clubs see him for the greedy, self serving a*hole that he is and stay well clear..m

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  23. Sharpy17: TDS – totally agree with you mate, and before Carr is made the scapegoat, it was Charnley and the managers Ashley employed that also signed off on these below quality players.I’m afraid it does come back to Ashley in the end coz installing sub standard managers can only ever result in sub standard squads.Rafa got on with it last season coz those players were of that level of football.But the rebuilding started this summer & it was never going to be easy.

    Sharpy

    But every manager is bound to make some bad purchases. Considering Rafa himself was responsible for Murphy (now sold at a considerable loss), Hanley, Gamez, Sels (out on loan – we are probably subsidising wages) and Lazaar, well that’s not a great hit rate. Gayle and Ritchie were bound to score goals at Championship level considering they were pretty decent in the PL.

    For sure, the buck stops with Ashley because he hired the people who signed those players and authorised their big contracts. With less than 3 weeks to go, we still have 32 players to fit into a 25 man squad…I wonder if other PL clubs are in the same situation?

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  24. I thought Murphy turned out to be a good signing for us, he knew how to play at that level and yes we may of taken a hit but he helped us to go up along with others and that’s worth it’s weight in gold in so far as PL riches goes. small loss and nowt compared to the riches to come if we can stay up which of course means we need a quality forward and creative mid in to likely achieve .

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  25. Oh and Rose is a ****, does he think he’s hard done by? unbelievable greed and that’s exactly what it is.

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  26. football fixtures all over the shot 7 changes to fixtures over aug sept and oct . 6 now changed from sat 3pm to sundays and televised. who on earth did they show while we were away. 🙄

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  27. Didn’t Murphy cost 5.25m? And we sold him for 2m? He did chip in with a few goals though, so I’m certainly not knocking him. I’m just saying that’s a fair amount of money spent on those goals, especially when you add wages, bonuses and agents’ fees.

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  28. Sharpy17: Ice – their gripe is that WH and Palace are paying some of their players more than Spurs are theirs.

    These over privileged fools don’t know the real world man.Arguing and twisting over a pay rise of 20-25k per week.That’s properly in the region of the average U.K. annual salary!!.

    I won’t have this argument that football is a short career anymore either.Yes it is – but if I work 50yrs on £25k pa then in my working life I’d make £1.25m.
    If one of these ********s gets paid £25k pw they make £1.3m in a year.

    I’m honestly starting to hate top flite football coz of all the money and greedy around it.

    Ime with you all the way on this one mate.
    Hope your hols are going well

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  29. I don’t blame Rose for thinking the way he’s thinking. I don’t blame him for wanting to win a trophy. I don’t understand why he has to make it public though. That’s just ****ty.

    As for saying footballers don’t know the real world…fair enough…but that’s the same as someone living in a hut with no running water or electricity comparing their lifestyle to any of ours.

    If you’re on £25k and your peers are on £35k, then you’re pissed off right? Gotta be the same whatever the scale.

    Making it public though…that’s dumb as ****.

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  30. It was already public. Everybody knows that Spurs have a wage ceiling at about 100k and that a player like Kane could double his salary if he went elsewhere. Walker is Rose’s best mate, their Dad’s sat together at the games. He is not so subtly putting pressure on Levy. It is obvious they will all be off in the next 2 years if the wages do not get close to the market rate. There might be a drip, drip of players leaving like Walker, then Rose and Dier, but they will lose them all when they realise it is all about Levy’s pocket. Especially when Poch is poached.

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  31. I know why the PL does it, but it’s very annoying for me. I’ve got loads going on at the weekend, so if I can’t get to a live game (rare sadly, living down south), then I like to be able to sit down at 3pm and follow all of the football for a couple of hours and then I can get on with my evening. These days, there’s football happening from Friday evening until Sunday evening! Great to a total football fanatic, but annoying for someone who sits down at 3pm on a Saturday to watch some scores and sees there are 3 matches on…

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  32. TDS: I am happy it went public. Anything to disrupt their dressing room before Sunday is fine by me 🙂

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  33. Eric

    It’s not Levy’s pocket, any more than it’s Ashley’s pocket. Levy has run a tight ship with a sensible business model and the club are in the CL and very nearly won the title a couple of years ago. Considering the financial power of Man Utd, City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool, that’s very impressive!

    They couldn’t afford to pay all of their players the same as those 5 teams until they dramatically increase their commercial revenue, which probably means being a CL fixture.

    As for other clubs paying higher wages…well plenty of clubs have stars in their club that are paid much more than others. Spurs don’t seem to want that model. Spurs have got a lot of very good players, whereas the likes of Palace and West Ham have got some real crap amongst a few gems.

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  34. Eric Sykes:
    TDS: I am happy it went public. Anything to disrupt their dressing room before Sunday is fine by me

    Well said! Maybe they’ll fight on the pitch? 🙂

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  35. TDS, can’t agree on footballers wages mate or the hut analogy you made.
    I know full well there are people far worse of than me/us and I’m thankful for the life I live. Yes I suppose we’d all like more but it’s not something I feel the need to carp on about and it doesn’t sour my life that the guy over the road may be better off. Footballers are a strange fruit though, they all think they are messi and have a divine right to god knows how much silly money for basically kicking a ball around. I would say ” do you fix brains or mend broken hearts?” no, then **** off and be grateful for what you have. The cost of an appointment with my lads neuro doc is £140 on the nhs, what does Rose’s hourly rate work out at I wonder, perspective needed by everyone I reckon.

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  36. TDS: My brother is a bricklayer. You’re telling me that if he’s on a job and has a drink with the people doing the house next door who tell him they are on double his money that he wouldn’t be jealous? Would want to stay on the job he is on because the owner is building up his own business even though he knows the competing owner/employer has another load of jobs lined up? That his current employer might be losing some of his best men and my brother would have to work with people that weren’t as good?

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  37. Spurs have won nowt in 40 years. Levy is and investment banker/hedge fund manager fattening the club up for sale. To be sure, he probably has a soft spot for the club like Hall and Sheppard did for NUFC, but when push comes to shove money talks for these people. Do you think he cares where Harry Kane and his family are in 15 years, or Rose or Walker?

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  38. What is really starting to get my goat is these so called pundits are all saying we are sure fire to go down before the season has even started and Rafa will walk and the club will crumble,why do they all have a downer on our club

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  39. Ice: the pundits and the media seem to have an ax to grind with NUFC, I have no idea why. Except the ones that have actually experienced NUFC. We have Warren Barton on US TV doing some games and he absolutely loves the Toon. He experienced it first hand and knows what it is like.

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  40. I don’t think it’s gonna be easy for us but if they all say we’re going down then really the only way is up. We do need a goal scorer, get one and I think a few may well change their minds.

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  41. kim

    There are thousands of footballers and most of them don’t cry to the media that they’re not getting paid enough. Bit unfair to tar them all with the same brush mate. Football IS money driven now and football is really quite different to other careers. I’m certain Kane and Alli know that they could earn plenty more cash elsewhere, but they aren’t crying to the media.

    Plus, a lot is agent/media driven really. What I actually read from Rose is that he wants to win a trophy. Whatever this money stuff is might be media driven. His actual comments don’t mention money from what I read.

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  42. Eric Sykes:
    Ice: the pundits and the media seem to have an ax to grind with NUFC, I have no idea why. Except the ones that have actually experienced NUFC. We have Warren Barton on US TV doing some games and he absolutely loves the Toon. He experienced it first hand and knows what it is like.

    Your a lucky guy mate you know the boring doe-heeds we have to suffer

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  43. Eric

    You’re proving my point I assume?

    The only stupid thing is if your brother goes around telling people that his work isn’t appreciated and he should get paid more. That’s a private conversation.

    Sometimes footballers (like other folks) are just gobby ****es.

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  44. Pundits getting paid to voice their opinions…most of them just piss me off. Sometimes you get someone smart that can offer real insight (like Gary Neville), but most of them are just poorly educated ex-players who offer no more insight into football than an average football fan. Dean Saunders passing judgement on our club just because he coached here for a bit? Nuts! I value his opinion less than anyone here. At least the people here take a daily interest in our club

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  45. We have some great ex-player/pundits journalists over here and some not so good as there are everywhere. They do a better job than in the UK. I have seen both. I like Carra, but can he give up with that squeaky mouse scouser accent.

    Barton is great.

    Phil Shoen, a Yank is great.

    We have a couple of grumpy Scots, Stevie Nichol is a typical Jock grump.

    The commentary teams tend to be good except Arlo White who came from radio and tends to tell you about every single ball that is kicked and every single thing on his legal pad.

    AND THAT IS BEFORE RAY HUDSON. You either love him or you hate him. I love him.

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  46. I really like Gary Neville and Carragher is pretty decent too. Don’t have much time for Phil Neville mind you. Lawro, Owen, Saunders, all useless. Savage, only good for comedy value. Shearer isn’t bad, but I think if he wasn’t a Newcastle legend, I’d probably think he’s a bit pants too.

    If an ex-footballer is going to get paid bloody good money to talk about football, I want him to tell me something that is insightful. Something that my mates in the pub won’t normally see and talk about. Gary Neville is amazing at that. Saunders telling me that Newcastle fans want 4th or 5th…that’s just dumb. Firstly because the vast majority of us are realistic enough to know that’s going to be a tough ask in the next few years. Secondly, because the truly deluded among us actually want to be challenging for the title, not finishing 4th or 5th…

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  47. Asked if Colback had been told he was free to leave the club, United manager Benitez said: “I talk with my players individually, privately, and I am telling them what I think, my opinion, and after it depends on each one. “But at the moment he’s a player of the squad.”

    And that’s how you deal with contractual or financial matters. PRIVATELY.

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  48. He was cautiously quiet about Perez and Kenedy mind. I guess we’re all desperate for these 2 to come off. Not sure on Jota. I watched him last season and didn’t think anything.

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  49. Deadline is in about 3 hours since there’s a Friday evening game. But perhaps people can just insert their teams afterwards if they’re already done.

    I’ve set up a league if there isn’t one: 23801-826078

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  50. So Jabba has done an interview with SSN. Reckons Rafa isn’t and never was going to get £150m to spend because we can’t compete with the big clubs. “Rafa knows this.” Rafa will get every penny the club generates, but it’s not enough!” I’m a multi billionaire but my wealth is like wall paper – it’s in SD’s shops!” Nice line… “Lee Charnley answers to Rafa, not the other way round.”

    Interesting timing I must say. Got to be honest, I think it’s time to sell up, Mike and let someone have a go who can give the club some financial backing.

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  51. Agree, he simply isn’t wealthy or ambitious enough to own us any longer. Sad that you need so much money to compete now .

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  52. The only point of selling is if an owner wants to do what they’ve done to Man City or Chelsea. But why would an owner bother doing that now? Man Utd, Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City and Liverpool are light years away from us in terms of finances and Spurs have been really well run to punch above their weight and beat that lot. Everton are also really well run in even challenging those 6. So why would a multi-billionaire bother with our club when even with his billions, it’s going to be really tough to catch those clubs up, let alone overtake them to get into the CL.

    Chelsea and Man City owner did it when there was a gap for a mega club and they could fill it. There’s no gap now. We’d have to displace a mega club, and they’re not going to give it up without a fight…

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