There was panic at Newcastle United this morning, all stemming from a shock decision from one of the big nations at this summer’s World Cup. Spain boss Julen Lopetegui was named as the successor to Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid yesterday afternoon. However, he did not inform the Spanish football federation who, subsequently, sacked him.
It leaves Spain without a manager ahead of the World Cup, with their first game against European champions Portugal on Friday evening.
One name that was immediately mentioned as a potential replacement, temporary or permanent, was Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez.
The Spaniard has long been linked with the Spanish national team role and in the past has not hidden his desire to one day lead his nation. With continued rumblings over his future at Newcastle, the fear was he might be off to save his country in their hour of need.
That would have left Newcastle desperately short in pre-season preparation and concerned he would become the manager of Spain permanently.
However, as reported by The Chronicle, the Newcastle boss apparently has no interest in the Spain job right now. They report he is happy in the UK and is not yet ready to turn his back on club management.
Newcastle fans can now breathe a sigh of relief, as the Spaniard has worked wonders on a tight budget and with a limited squad at St James’ Park.
Losing him would be worse than losing many of their star players and the fact he is remaining has left Newcastle fans relieved…
— Matthew Milton (@LeafySeaDragon_) June 13, 2018
— Paul Lindsay (@1ChippyUK) June 13, 2018
Benitez might as well take over Spain for the next month. Nothings gonna happen at nufc anyway
— Daniel Webster (@Dan_Omegawebby) June 13, 2018
— Scott Wilson (@Scottwilsonecho) June 13, 2018
Mike Ashley gambled on the future of Newcastle United to get to the Premier league, and now what?
Would it not have been better to not put club at risk financially.
By not spending he is again risking relegation.
It’s a question of when, not if Rafa Benitez walks out of #NUFC
— Himanshu Dhingra (@HD_07) June 13, 2018
Wow something big must of gone down in the spanish camp for them to sack him couple days before the world cup! Benitez to take over and win the world cup then return to newcastle to win the prem?? ??? #spain #WorldCup2018 #skysportnews
— Gary (@garybcha) June 13, 2018
I agree completely. I think it would be a win win situation for NUFC and Rafa.
— Stephen Edward Graham (@StephenEdwardG4) June 13, 2018
— The Spectator’s View (@thespectoview) June 13, 2018
Rafa Benitez should plot Fernando Torres reunion at Newcastle United
Rafa Benitez should plot a reunion with his former superstar.
Newcastle United are reportedly in the market for new forwards this summer, with Rafa Benitez identifying the Magpies’ attacking output as a key weakness last term, despite their impressive 10th place finish.
The Spaniard is calling for the club to back him in pursuit of a “10 to 15 goals a season” striker this summer, with the likes of Salomon Rondon (Northern Echo) and Bas Dost (the Sun) circulating around the Newcastle rumour mill.
However, both would likely break the Magpies current club-record of £16 million – for Michael Owen from Real Madrid in 2005 – and perhaps Benitez would be better served going for a former favourite.
Fernando Torres is a free-agent having left Atletico Madrid, following last month’s Europa League triumph and Newcastle should offer the 34-year-old a route back to England’s top flight this summer.
Under Benitez’s tutelage at Liverpool, Torres was widely recognised as one of the most formidable forwards in world football, and though his impact has diminished over the years, there’s no doubting the World Cup winner’s quality in front of goal.
The prospect of an elite level striker arriving at St James’ Park on a free transfer is a no brainier if the player can be convinced and the club should make it happen. He knows the league inside-out, having made 212 appearances for Chelsea – where he won the Champions League – and with Benitez at Anfield, and he could instantly propel Newcastle’s attack to higher levels.
Becoming a crucial part of a new project on Tyneside would be enticing for Torres, as his unwavering desire and tenacity on a football pitch is something that cannot be questioned. And he doesn’t seem the type to move to the States or China in pursuit of one last pay-cheque.
He has all the attributes to become a cult-hero at Newcastle, and the club should act now.
Difficult opening fixtures underline need for Newcastle to strengthen
Newcastle United’s summer hasn’t really started yet and the need for reinforcements was underlined on Friday when the 2018/19 fixtures were announced.
They have been given a tough start to the Premier League campaign and it is important that Rafa Benitez gets as much time as possible to prepare the team. Therefore, they need to sharpen up in the market and provide the funds required to appease their manager.
Earlier this month, the Shields Gazette reported that there was a standoff between manager and board regarding the transfer window.
Benitez wants the club to commit to a spending plan before agreeing to sign a new contract. Meanwhile, Mike Ashley wants the Spaniard to agree to a new deal before he releases the funds. It is becoming a game of cat and mouse, which isn’t helpful to Newcastle in the slightest.
This has been allowed to bubble away in the background, but it has been brought back into focus by the release of the fixtures. They serve as a reminder that the Premier League season will be back before long and periods of inactivity will be hurtful to their chances of a successful season.
Newcastle will open their campaign at home to Tottenham for a second successive season. Last year, they lost 2-0 in the corresponding fixture and a similar result wouldn’t be a surprise.
Four of their first five fixtures are against teams that finished in the top-six last season. Although supporters will be hopeful that their team can earn some points, they will realise the size of their task.
The other three top-six sides that they are due to play are Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal. There is an argument that it can be beneficial to play the big teams early and the fact that three of the matches are at home should be encouraging. After all, Newcastle managed to beat both Chelsea and Arsenal at St James’ Park last season.
The only team outside of the current top six that Newcastle are due to play in their opening five matches is Cardiff City. It will be the Welsh club’s first home match back in the Premier League and that is an occasion that could be difficult for the visiting team.
Based on the fixtures, it is a game the Magpies will be targeting for three points, but the atmosphere might make that difficult to achieve.
The coming weeks are crucial for Newcastle. There needs to be an agreement reached between board and manager, with funds being made available for transfer activity.
A manager like Benitez will already have deals in place and will just need to go ahead from above and the mood on Tyneside would change significantly with two or three signings, especially if they have the quality to push the team on to the next level.
This summer could be looked back on as another opportunity missed under Mike Ashley. After overachieving to finish 10th, Benitez should have been given the freedom to capitalise on that and maintain the positive momentum.
Sadly, that hasn’t happened and the opening fixtures make for unpleasant reading. If they aren’t careful, Newcastle could be building the wrong sort of momentum heading into the 2018/19 season.
Blow for Newcastle as Kenedy slapped with £20 million price tag
Newcastle United are unlikely to sign former loanee this summer.
Newcastle United have been hit with another blow in the transfer window, as key target Kenedy has been valued at £20 million by parent club Chelsea, according to reports from the Chronicle, which is likely to deter the Magpies from revisiting negotiations.
Rafa Benitez is preparing for a vital summer of recruitment after managing to secure a top-half finish in the Premier League table. However, fans are under no illusions that the club is likely to spend lucrative amounts like close competitors, given Mike Ashley’s recent track-record. But that doesn’t mean they’ll accept a lack of ambition from the club, progress is expected.
Sparta Prague goalkeeper Martin Dubravka has joined St James’ Park on a permanent deal this summer, but it’s unlikely fellow loanee Kenedy will follow, with Chelsea’s preference to sell the Brazilian starlet.
Newcastle’s current transfer record is £16 million, in a deal dating back to 2005, when the club landed Michael Owen from Real Madrid under the tenure of Graeme Souness. So it’s justified to be pessimistic about the chances of Kenedy returning to Tyneside this summer.
The deal becomes even more unlikely, with the news that Benitez is prioritising landing a reliable talisman capable of bagging “10 or 15 goals a season,” with the likes of £16 million rated Salomon Rondon being touted as the Spaniard’s priority target, according to the Northern Echo.
It’s not impossible for a deal to be completed between the two clubs, and Newcastle may just have to accept that it’s a sign of the times. £20 million in today’s market is considered a bargain in England’s top-flight and the upper echelons at St James’ Park will have to adapt if they have loftier ambitions next term, as the rest of the league won’t rest on their laurels.
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