Newcastle United won the Championship title last season under the experienced Rafa Benitez. The Magpies had spent just one season in the second tier of the English game.
Benitez’s team kick-off their top-flight campaign on Sunday lunchtime when the north east side host last season’s runners-up Tottenham at St James Park.
It could be a tough opener for the men from the north east. In fact, it could be a tough season for Benitez’s side.
Magpies boss Benitez recently talked about his frustrations in the transfer market over the summer. The north east side have struggled to bring in quality signings this summer. Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has responded to the Spaniard’s frustrations in a rare interview with Sky Sports.
Can’t compete with Man City
Ashley told Sky Sports: “If you said to me I am wealthy – in theory, I am a billionaire or maybe a multi-billionaire – but in reality, my wealth is all in Sports Direct shares,”
“As I said the other day, it is like wallpaper. I don’t have that cash in the bank so I don’t have the ability to write a cheque for £200m. I don’t have it, it’s simple.
Ashley continued by saying “I would have to sell the Sports Direct shares to fund that. The way it is sometimes portrayed in wealth terms is as though it is in the bank, it’s not.
“And I have to make it clear that I am nowhere near wealthy enough in football now to compete with the likes of Man City and others where it is a wealthy individual taking on what is the equivalent of countries. I cannot and I will not.”
Ashley talks about competing with Man City. However, in reality, City are not one of the teams the Magpies are competing with. Every Premier league club has money to spend courtesy of the much talked about television revenue.
The Newcastle owner has talked about Benitez getting every penny that comes into the club. However, where has that television revenue gone so far? The Magpies have spent very little on their new signings this summer.
Newcastle are likely to be competing with their fellow new boys, the likes of Watford, Crystal Palace, Burnley and West Brom this season. Huddersfield and Brighton have shown big ambition compared to Newcastle this summer in the transfer market.
Watford have also spent £52million and the Hornets are not considered to be a wealthy club. It sounds like Mike Ashley has not learnt from the mistakes of the clubs last spell in the Premier League. He attempted to keep the club up on the cheap and the club suffered relegation.
Benitez frustration is worrying
Benitez is understandably frustrated at the relative lack of new signings at the club this summer. The Magpies have signed Christian Atsu on a permanent deal, Florian Lejeune, Mikel Merino, Jacob Murphy and Javier Manquillo.
However, despite the new signings, there is still a feeling that the Magpies lack the quality to stay clear of the relegation dogfight this season.
There must be a concern amongst everybody connected with the Magpies that the Spaniard’s frustrations may get the better of him and he may consider quitting his position.
It would a disaster for the Newcastle if Benitez left his role. The former Liverpool boss stuck with the club after relegation, despite reportedly having offers from elsewhere. The clubs hierarchy has not rewarded Benitez’s loyalty.
Look set for a relegation battle
Newcastle are considered by many to be relegation candidates this season. The Magpies are odds of 4/1 to suffer relegation this season. Those odds make Benitez’s team sixth favourites for the drop.
However, if the north east side does not strengthen their squad before the summer transfer window shuts, I believe that they will be in for a long hard campaign ahead of them.
If they do not make signings this summer then I also suspect that Rafa Benitez will not be in the Magpies dugout at the end of the campaign.
Will Newcastle be in the relegation dogfight this season?
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