According to the Chronicle, Mike Ashley was left annoyed by Benitez’s ‘wasteful’ signings during our season in the Championship – with Matz Sels, Jesus Gamez and Achraf Lazaar deemed expensive mistakes.
The piece discusses Ashley and Benitez’s relationship ahead of what promises to be a pivotal summer for their and the club’s future, pinpointing this as something that left Ashley ‘irked’ during our season in the second tier.
Benitez was given ‘free rein’ to sign who he wanted by Ashley that summer according to the Chronicle, and although the likes of Gayle, Ritchie and Clark proved to be inspired buys, the likes of Sels, Gamez, Lazaar and Hanley barely played.
The four cost a combined total of over £15m yet racked up a combined 28 appearances in the Championship that season, with it taking little time for all four to fizzle out of Benitez’s plans despite him being the man who pushed to bring them to Tyneside.
Here’s the snipper from the Chronicle, discussing Ashley’s frustration and Benitez’s mixed success in the transfer market at NUFC:
‘He (Ashley) was understood to be irked by supposed “waste” in the Championship season when Benitez was given free rein to sign who he wanted, with the likes of Matz Sels, Jesus Gamez and Achraf Lazaar pin-pointed as players who were expensive mistakes.
‘Scrutiny cannot be avoided in this area. Tammy Abraham was Benitez’s choice for a striker this summer but he has only seven goals in 32 games – a strike every 363 minutes – and has not been a success at Swansea. It is the nature of the beast that Newcastle’s manager will make mistakes – although Manu Riviere, Facundo Ferreyra and Seydou Doumbia were hardly more successful when United attempted to unearth a rough diamond in the cheaper end of the market.
‘Backing his judgement must mean allowing him to make calls which may benefit the club in the long-term. The re-emergence of Mo Diame is proof that we can be too quick to write players off – and that good coaching, man management and a desire to back rather than write off individuals after a bad spell can reap its own rewards.’
Benitez has got a few wrong, but with limited resources comes the increased likelihood of making mistakes.
For example, Joselu looks a poor buy from Benitez, but can you get much better than a 5-goal-a-season striker for £5m in this day and age?!
People are saying Abraham has flopped at Swansea (a top target of Rafa’s), yet his 7 goals and 5 assists this season (involved in 12 goals) seems impressive when compared to Joselu’s 4 goals and 1 assist (involved in 5 goals).
Ashley must continue to put faith in Rafa. Despite the odd ‘expensive mistake’ in the transfer market, there’s only one man at NUFC making big ones and it’s not Benitez.
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About Olly Hawkins
Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.