Ex-Sunderland wide man Kieran Richardson believes Newcastle have not got the goals to stay up – feeling that Benitez’s decision to let both Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dwight Gayle go will be a disastrous one.
Whilst Gayle’s eight goals have come in the Championship, both he and Mitrovic have scored a combined 13 goals so far this season – with the Serbian scoring five so far for Fulham (just one less than we’ve scored as a team all season).
Despite his fitness issues early on, it’s been confirmed that Rondon WAS one of Rafa’s top summer targets, but I would argue that he would’ve been expected to spend the £23m received for Mitrovic – yet he was given Muto for £9.5m instead.
Speaking to talkSPORT, Richardson insisted that it was a big mistake letting both Gayle and Mitrovic go, however, feeling as though we let go exactly what we needed:
“I think Newcastle have not got the goals, they let Mitrovic go and Gayle go so that’s a lot of goals leaving your team,”
“For me personally I don’t think they have the goals in that team to stay up.”
This is all easy for him to say in hindsight now Gayle and Mitrovic are scoring goals. What he and most people forget is that these two were NOT doing the business for us.
Gayle got SIX goals in all comps last season and looked lost in the lone striker role, while Mitrovic scored just four times the last time Rafa gave him a chance to prove himself in our promotion season.
Rondon’s fitness problems and the time it’s taken for Muto to adapt have been far from ideal – leaving us with Joselu in the first few games – but things could’ve been very different if we’d signed Rondon earlier in the summer and allowed him to have a full pre-season with us.
Rondon fits our system better than Gayle and it appeared as though the only way to get him was to do a swap deal with West Brom. The issue was Ashley’s inability to replace Mitrovic with a proven striker.