Newcastle United supporters have been pretty subdued in the Transfer Tavern in recent times after seeing their side suffer a third Premier League defeat of the season at the weekend.
Rafa Benitez’s men went into their clash with champions Manchester City on Saturday having managed to pick up just one point from their opening three league games, drawing 0-0 at Cardiff City alongside defeats at the hands of Tottenham and Chelsea. And Pep Guardiola’s City inflicted a third loss of the season on the Magpies at the Etihad Stadium as goals from Raheem Sterling and Kyle Walker either side of a DeAndre Yedlin equaliser sealed all three points for the Citizens.
Consequently, there have been many frustrated and disappointed Newcastle fans up and down the country in recent times, yet there are likely to be fewer people more frustrated than Magpies chief Benitez after a turbulent summer at St James’ Park.
And with the Spaniard’s contract up at the end of the season, owner Mike Ashley simply has to ensure that he avoids making the biggest mistake of his Newcastle reign so far in failing to tie Benitez down to a new deal.
Ultimately, former Chelsea and Real Madrid chief Benitez deserves enormous credit for the job he has done at Newcastle, as although he couldn’t keep them up at the rear end of the 2015/16 campaign, he stuck with them to win promotion from the Championship the season after.
And his brilliance was again on show last term as the Magpies recorded a top half finish upon their return to the top-flight, this all despite spending very little money and thus making the best out a squad that was, and still is, lacking in sufficient quality.
But in finishing tenth last season, it was clear the potential Newcastle had under Benitez to push on and perhaps return to their former glories in the years to come, only for owner Ashley to fail to adequately back the manager in the recent summer transfer window, with the Magpies again making a profit from player sales.
Throughout his time at the club, Benitez has made it clear that funds are needed to improve this Newcastle squad – yes, there are many good players in the form of Jamaal Lascelles, Jonjo Shelvey, and Matt Ritchie, to name but a few, but the squad on a whole isn’t strong enough to challenge for the European places.
And that has come as huge frustration to Benitez, and with the Magpies again looking likely to be involved in a relegation scrap this term, the Spaniard may well say that enough is enough come the end of the season, which coincides with the end of his contract.
But Ashley must surely be aware that managers of the calibre of Benitez do not come around often and are unlikely to want to manage at the rear end of the Premier League – it appears that the Newcastle owner simply must change tact if Benitez is to stay at the St James’ Park.
And he simply must do just that to avoid making the biggest mistake of what has already been a turbulent and controversial reign in charge of the North East giants.
Newcastle fans… what do you think? Let us know!