Another Premier League campaign is on the horizon for Newcastle, as they seek to retain their spot in the top-flight and fight for a top-half position.
The issue is that funds under Mike Ashley have been severely restricted once again, leaving Rafael Benitez searching for bargains while the likes of Everton, West Ham, Wolves and Fulham spend heavily to improve their side.
It is certainly set to be another tough season ahead on Tyneside and we have identified one winner and loser from the club’s pre-season campaign.
Winner: Martin Dubravka
The 29-year-old caught the eye for Newcastle in the second half of last season after arriving in January on loan in Sparta Prague, impressing Benitez so much that the Spaniard quickly moved to land a permanent deal early in the summer.
Dubravka is the top-class goalkeeper that Newcastle need at the back and showed this during a goalless draw with Portuguese giants Porto, where he made a number of quality saves to keep the Champions League side at bay.
Overall, Newcastle’s pre-season raised plenty of concerns about the defence but Dubravka has shown he will be crucial for the season ahead.
“I always hoped it would happen because after half a season I wanted to stay, I didn’t want to have to look for another solution, another direction. I feel really pleased and I enjoyed it when they made my move permanent because the half year was special for me.”
Loser: Rafael Benitez
Spare a thought for Rafael Benitez, the beloved manager of Newcastle who cannot get the support from Mike Ashley that he needs and must have spent the summer wondering what might have been if the club was sold last term.
Restricted funds led to frustration in the market once again, with Benitez regularly speaking out to the press about his concerns that his squad was not as strong as it needed to be – which isn’t harsh, it’s a true assessment.
Still, Ashley didn’t listen and Newcastle will now be fighting against the odds this term. Benitez pulled a rabbit out of the hat last term but it remains to be seen whether he has any more tricks up his sleeve.