The Chronicle claimed last night that Rafa Benitez IS set to be given the green light to spend money this summer, with Mike Ashley preparing a new contract for the Spaniard – but big questions remain as to whether this will actually be enough for Benitez.
Remember last summer? May 2017 – Ashley confirmed Rafa was staying, stating he’d give the Spaniard ‘every penny’ the club generated after promotion. As we know, that summer saw us shopping in the bargain basement and left us with a squad not fit to tackle the Premier League head on as Rafa had planed.
Rafa asked for a proven striker, but had to scramble late on to sign Stoke’s fourth choice striker, Joselu. He’s put in a shift, but at the end of the day he’s looked like a £5m footballer. This a man who scored just 4 goals in 27 for Stoke and, surprise surprise, his record at Newcastle is EXACTLY the same – 4 goals in 27.
Like a lot of this NUFC squad, he’ll leave nothing out on the pitch and put in 110%, but as Monday’s frustrating 1-0 defeat highlighted perfectly, effort alone will only get us so far. Rafa admitted last week that he can’t perform ‘miracles’ every season and that says everything you need to know about his ambition vs the reality of what he’s been receiving from Ashley to achieve those goals.
This summer, quality additions are the order of the day – but in 2018, they will not come cheap.
With this in mind, Benitez isn’t going to buy into these ‘you’ve got the green light to spend’ claims from Ashley. He needs things in writing, he needs full plans and proof of how they’re going to be put into practice not just this summer but next January too – a month we’ve struggled with ever since he’s been in charge.
Having the “green light” to spend is great, but how much money is that? Are we going to actually make efforts to break our transfer record (which we’ll need to if we want to sign quality players in this day and age), are we going to push to sign Kenedy? Sign a new proven striker? Learn from our mistakes last summer? (where deals for Abraham and Caballero slipped through our fingers despite Rafa having good reason to believe they were done by all accounts).
Then there’s more. The training ground needs development, the U-23 set up needs major investment after several are set to be released this season.
This is a big project for Rafa and something that needs to be planned and sustainable, not just a plea to be given a big transfer kitty this summer.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s positive to hear that Ashley is at least ready to sanction some form of summer spending and offer Rafa a new deal, but this is only half the battle.
He needs to prove that he’s willing and capable of matching Rafa’s ambitions for the club – especially after his lack of communication and broken promises have only eroded trust between the pair over the last 18 months.