A message to the Benitez boo boys – Doubting Rafa? Read this..

With Newcastle bottom of the Premier League and enduring their worst start to a Premier League season in the club’s history, questions are always going to be asked of the manager and there should be. Pundits have rightly pointed out that the defensive tactics Benitez often deploys against the top six at home is an approach his predecessors would have been slaughtered for, and they’re right.

Benitez is a winner and brings a pedigree to Newcastle we haven’t had since Robson or Keegan but like any manager, he isn’t perfect and makes mistakes. But do we seriously think substitutions, team selection of selling certain players are the reason for our current plight? There are far bigger issues at Newcastle at the moment.

Context is key here – the lack of tools Rafa has been given to do the job is there for all to see and makes his achievements on Tyneside all the more remarkable. He has been given a net spend of £100k since promotion, compared to spends of nearly £100m in the same period by Huddersfield and Brighton; the sides that came up with us in the 16/17 season. Charnley released a statement saying it is disrespectful to label our squad a ‘Championship side’ – but we basically haven’t spent a penny since promotion, so how can it be anything other than a Championship side? Sure, you can try and pick up bargains and be clever in the transfer market but that only works so far; Wolves and Fulham came up this season and both spent nearly £100m. Nottingham Forest in the Championship spent more than Newcastle this summer.

Ashley has not broken the clubs transfer record since buying the club 11 years ago and clearly has no intention of doing so – this lack of investment is crippling the club each season as rivals continue to invest the large sums of TV money now on offer as United stand still. The very fact Huddersfield, Brighton, Cardiff and Fulham are our rivals now (and no disrespect to these clubs) shows the celling of Ashley’s ambition for the club. Newcastle had only been relegated 3 times in their 114 year history before Ashley bought the club, yet we face our third in 11 years. We regularly competed in both the Champions League and then Uefa Cup in the decade before Ashley took over; yet now we are no more than a yo-yo club. The only person this isn’t good enough for is Benitez.

Benitez has delivered against the lack of investment, the toxic relationship between fans and owner and the apathy that has now rightly set into supporters. Rafa nearly kept us up but doubts surfaced as we lost of our first two Championship games. We won the title. We were in the relegation zone up until February last year and had a similar run of no win in 9 – we finished 10th. Each year Ashley makes Rafa’s job more difficult, so I am not suggesting a top half finish this year but we can still stay up. Rafa delivers when it matters.

We all have different opinions on match day but who gets taken off, whether we start Atsu or Murphy – these aren’t the problems here. Very few could do a better job than Rafa and if they could, do you think that calibre of manager would join NUFC with the current owner?

It may be a minority wanting change but Rafa needs our backing more than ever, he has stuck with us when most wouldn’t have so we need to do the same. He is our biggest hope – not the problem.

(Fancy writing for us? Send any articles/ideas over to us at [email protected] & 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.

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