Five key performers for Manchester City’s “Fourmidables”

Manchester City conquered all before them on the domestic front this season, securing the Premier League title as well as the FA and League Cups and the Community Shield.

However, the Champions League trophy once again escaped Pep Guardiola’s side and remains a blot on their otherwise impressive copybook.

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Whether they can tick that box next season remains to be seen, and you can get early odd with the best football tips for today.

Of course, it’s a squad game these days and City have an embarrassment of riches at their disposal and enough depth to cover injuries to key players; how many other teams could continue winning while missing someone of Kevin De Bruyne’s ability for the bulk of the campaign?

So, who were the standout performers for City as added to their trophy cabinet?

Bernardo Silva

This was the Portuguese attacker’s break out season as a dominant force in the Premier League and he has cemented his place as the heir to David Silva’s throne at the Etihad.

Silva was signed from Monaco in 2017 for a fee believed to be in the region of €50 million and made 53 appearances in his first season in England as City took out the league title.

This time round, he chipped in with 7 goals and 7 assists in his 36 league appearances and earned a spot in the PFA Team of the Year.

Vincent Kompany

Vincent Kompany has parted ways with Manchester City after 11 years at the club, and he couldn’t have scripted a better final few weeks in sky blue.

Having battled injury for the last few seasons, the Belgian centre back played a key role as City rattled off 14 wins in a row to claim the Premier League title.

His big moment came in the penultimate game at home to Leicester City when he led by example in the most unlikely of fashions – firing home a stunning 25-yard strike to give City a 1-0 win.

Kompany’s influence on City’s rise to the top of English football cannot be understated and his presence will be missed around the club.

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Sergio Aguero

When Pep Guardiola arrived at City many pundits felt that Sergio Aguero’s time would be up as he wouldn’t fit the Spaniard’s system.

However, every good team needs a proven goalscorer and Aguero continues to find the net at an impressive rate – he is just the second player to score 20 goals or more in five successive Premier League seasons.

The Argentine has had his injury troubles down through the years but was very durable during the 2018/19 season and finished with 31 goals to his name from 44 appearances in all competitions.

He was named in the PFA Team of the Year for the second time and was the Premier League’s Player of the Month for February.

Raheem Sterling

The British media did a 180 degree turn on Raheem Sterling this year as went from spoilt brat to national hero thanks to some outstanding performances both on and off the field.

Sterling played 51 games in all competitions and scored 26 times, while also netting the winning penalty in the League Cup Final against Chelsea.

When City demolished Watford 6-0 to win the FA Cup, Sterling became just the second player to net a hat-trick in the final.

Still only 24, he can get even better, and his best years should still be to come.

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Fernandinho

Another member of the PFA Team of the Year, Fernandinho is the quiet achiever of this Manchester City team.

The Brazilian is a dominant presence in the middle of the park and shows no signs of slowing down at the age of 34.

A knee injury sustained in the Manchester Derby at Old Trafford meant he missed the final few weeks of the season and his absence was really felt.

Indeed, Guardiola has admitted that he doesn’t know how he will find a replacement who knows the holding role, the Premier League and City’s system as well as Fernandinho does.

The £34 million that City paid to lure him from Shakhtar Donetsk in 2013 has proven to be a fantastic bit of business.

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Manchester United fans comments on signing Sean Longstaff potential

manchester united fans

Manchester United fans watched their team finish outside the Champions League places.

That sixth place was 32 points behind Manchester City, the same points gap that Man Utd finished above relegated Cardiff.

This has brought accusations that big money/wages signings such as Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez and others…might not be giving 100%.




Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has the job of turning the situation around amid claims he is going to base the rebuilding around recruiting promising young players.

Widespread reports claiming that a big for Newcastle United’s Sean Longstaff is imminent, with a figure of £20m-£25m mentioned in most of those reports.

So what do Manchester United fans think of this?

Some interesting views on trying to buy a 21 year old English midfielder with potential, a few rational ones but as for the rest…

Manchester United fans comment on reports their club are bidding to sign Sean Longstaff – comments via Twitter:

‘I’ve seen Sean Longstaff play and…no, just no.’

‘Who?’

‘OMG huge news.

Imagine Scott McTominay and Longstaff !!!!

Watch out Man City we are gunning for you !!!’

‘Fu..ing laughable.’

‘There’s a difference between going for gems and signing unnecessarily risky players.

Daniel James is a perfect signing. But Longstaff when the likes of Partey, Rodri, Ndidi etc are available?’




‘If he were called Seanos Longstaffinho, people would he all over him.’

‘How many Michael Carricks are we going to have? I thought ya all said Mctominay is a Michael Carrick? Why sign another? Gosh….am tired of Manchester United.’

‘Half of our fans haven’t even seen him(even I haven’t) but already think it’s okay to say he’s a bad player just because he isn’t a big name,and then they moan that we sign only shirt sellers.’

‘Seen him a little this season. Looks like a talent but at this point, is he a risk worth taking? I don’t think so.’

‘Personally I feel that this Is the right approach, young unknown kids that are hungry to achieve their dreams would serve us better than the Hollywood players.’

‘Never mind the new Carrick, would we be any worse if we played the old one?’

Even Lascelles is a better CB than what we got beside Lindelof.’

‘I’ve actually seen Longstaff play, he’s not a bad player.. but no. just no.’

‘If Barca bought a player everytime he was called ‘next messi’, ‘next Xavi’, ‘next Iniesta’.

They wouldn’t have even qualified for UCL.’




‘I’d happily take him, he’s way better than McT, and more complete than Rice.’

‘I watched the obligatory YouTube montage of Sean Longstaff.

Couldn’t tell the level of his quality, and his stats aren’t amazing or anything. But the way he moves and runs looks really like Carrick and he loves a ping so that’s nice.’

‘Get him in midfield with McTominay we’ll be unstoppable…’

‘English FC in the making… all sh.t and average english players are always linked to us.
We’re becoming a joke of a club.’

‘Look at this, people pretending they haven’t seen Longstaff played…. You’ve seen him play and you all know even if we’re in a relegation battle, he’ll never be good enough for us…’

‘He played 9 games last season and is injury plagued.’

‘Is he a holding midfielder? Does anyone have any valid info on this guy??’

‘So another average player who passes side to side, no thanks, glad one crab is gone dont need another.’

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Mike Ashley just running down Rafa Benitez contract and transfer window – Sees squad strength ok

mike ashley

Mike Ashley sees things very simply.

A lot of people credit him with far too much interest in Newcastle United.

However, the NUFC owner will not give the football club a second thought from one second to the next.




No more than he gives the Sports Direct store in Chesterfield or Flannels in Sunderland.

It is only when there is a crisis that Mike Ashley will take any notice.

Does he see a crisis now?

I don’t think he does at all.

Ashley sees a team/squad that ended up in the top half of the Premier League in 2017/18 having spent a pittance after promotion, then a 13th place finish in 2018/19, 11 points clear of relegation and not having  laid out a penny in terms of net transfer spend.

Crisis, what crisis?

Mike Ashley doesn’t value managers like we do, Newcastle fans see Kevin Keegan, Sir Bobby Robson and Rafa Benitez for what they are, supporters also seeing Pardew, Carver, Kinnear and McClaren for what they are too.

It is all blurred for Ashley though, so when he met Rafa on Thursday 16 May he will have let the manager have his say but not really listened to him.

Just paying lip service, the club’s owner will have been told about the need for realistic investment in the squad, the academy, the training complex and so on, yet all the time in his head, Mike Ashley will have been thinking ‘You’re having a laugh, 10th and 13th spending next to nothing, why would I want to lay out so much of MY (the club’s!) money when this is working?’




I honestly think that Mike Ashley has walked away from that meeting and his only thought was, that’s out the way, now we can just crawl to 30 June, another month of the transfer window will have gone with everybody more concerned about the manager situation, then Rafa Benitez will walk away and plenty other managers out there.

As it stands, these are the players contracted to Newcastle United next season:

GOALKEEPERS

Martin Dubravka, Freddie Woodman, Karl Darlow, Rob Elliot

FULL-BACKS

Paul Dummett, DeAndre Yedlin, Achraf Lazaar, Javier Manquillo, Jamie Sterry

CENTRAL DEFENDERS

Fabian Schar, Florian Lejeune, Jamaal Lascelles, Federico Fernandez, Ciaran Clark

CENTRAL MIDFIELDERS

Jack Colback, Henri Saivet, Isaac Hayden, Jonjo Shelvey, Ki Sung-yeung, Sean Longstaff

WINGERS

Matt Ritchie, Rolando Aarons, Jacob Murphy, Christian Atsu

STRIKERS

Joselu, Dwight Gayle, Ayoze Perez, Yoshinori Muto, Miguel Almiron

The only ones with just a year left on their contracts are Sterry, Elliot, Manquillo, Darlow, Joselu, Ki and Fernandez.

The first four are squad players and the latter pair were older players brought in on short-term two year contracts. If Rafa goes then I’m guessing if any of the seven were offered an added year on their deals, they would all accept.

So the only players that Newcastle would be losing from last season would be Rondon, Barreca, Kenedy and Diame.

Kenedy was terrible, Barreca not even good enough for the bench, whilst Diame has been poor to average this past season and the late run of form was achieved without him.

As for Rondon, Mike Ashley will see Gayle returning and no real need for panic.

Last season the late run of form was built on a team of:

Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Schar, Lejeune/Dummett, Ritchie, Hayden, Longstaff/Ki, Almiron, Perez, Rondon

In 2017/18 the late run of form saw the following regulars:

Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett, Ritchie, Shelvey, Diame, Kenedy, Perez, Gayle

Of all those players in the two teams, only Kenedy, Diame and Rondon won’t be here as things stand.

The fact that Rafa Benitez was manager will mean little/nothing to Mike Ashley, for people like him he will no doubt see himself (Ashley) as being the true architect of this (relative!) success.




The fact Hayden is desperate to move for family reasons won’t bother Mike Ashley, he’ll just be thinking, he can stay here and alongside Longstaff, Newcastle have a great pair of young English midfielders who I can sell for a fortune if they do well next season.

Ashley doesn’t see any value in having a proper squad, having a load of extra players earning money despite potentially never/rarely playing.

So if there is a team there plus a few others that are good enough, then more than enough to get by.

On transfers/signings, Mike Ashley will decide with his people to maybe use the two loan signings they can make from other Premier League clubs on a striker and an attacking midfielder and maybe allow a couple of buys as well, allow a £10m or so budget and top that up with money from selling Joselu and a few others, maybe meaning £20m or £25m spent in total.

Then hand this squad over to another puppet manager in the style of Pardew/Carver/McClaren and expect another safe survival season.

What has he got to lose (as he sees it)?

Even if relegation happens, there is all the money that hasn’t been spent this season (or the previous two), plus Premier League parachute payments as well.

After two previous relegations ended up with instant returns as champions, Mike Ashley thinks he has got this cracked.

Every day that goes by without news, I will feel that my worst fears are being realised.

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Sunderland fans classic excuses after not selling out and Charlton having more supporters

sunderland fans

Sunderland fans are heading to Wembley this weekend, well at least some of them are.

Their biggest game of the season but thousands of tickets left unsold.

Even Charlton have sold more than the Mackems, over three thousand more.




Maybe no surprise though when the Stadium of Light was only half full for the semi against Portsmouth.

Some classic excuses back then as Sunderland fans blamed the embarrassing attendance on it clashing with wrestling and rugby events in Newcastle, the fact people usually went to the pub on a Saturday night as well as 7.30pm being too late for kids, some Mackems claiming the game should have been free to get in, saving up for Wembley…and best of all, that the game clashed with the ‘wedding season’ having started.

This time, reasons given for failing to sell thousands of tickets and having less support than Charlton…already been to Wembley this season, fans of other clubs are buying loads of the Charlton tickets, Sunderland would have more support if the game was played at Whitley Bay instead, Aston Villa fans, Kevin Keegan, whilst even Newcastle United and their supporters are blamed…

Sunderland fans comment via their Ready To Go (In smaller numbers than Charlton to Wembley) message board:

‘Charlton are going to have more fans than us.

38k plus compared to our 35k plus.

Think it’s first time in my 6 visits to Wembley we have taken less than the opposition

Understand the reason, watering the garden, shopping, x 2 trips to Wembley in the space of 3 months…..

But we can still do this.’

‘It’s really twice in eight weeks though isn’t it.. twice in three months makes it sound a lot longer.’

‘I would be worried if it was a competition where the winners would be the ones with most fans attending.

However,the winners will be determined by who scores the most goals. Haway the lads and lasses, wherever you are watching the game, raise the roof.’

‘Finally the limits of our away support realised- god forbid we become successful like man city and struggle to sell semi finals – oh wait.’

‘The fascination with attendances these days is bordering insanity. It was never like this when I was a kid.’




‘Villa invented it by counting our empty seats m’lord.’

‘Imagine if the game was staged in the north east?’

‘Too fu..ing right.’

‘For the majority of the Charlton fans at the match, it’ll be their first game this season. Not so for us. We will be drunker and louder than them, so I’m not worried about this at all.’

‘Louder, I hope so, against Pompey we were still hungover and quiet.’

‘Most have paid £100+ for travel

Average ticket is around £50

Spends for a long day weekend £100+ easy

Hotels probably around minimum £100 too

Charlton coat average ticket £50 maximum £12 on tube leave house at 1pm be back by 6 at a push.

So 35,000 is amazing ! More than our average crowd similar to our fan base so it’s great.’

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‘it’s fu..ing bizarre. Sick of hearing from fu..ing attendance no..es.’

‘I think it’s partly down to the people who come on here and wax lyrical about ‘the greatest fans in the land’ and other similar nonsense.’

‘We average like 7,000 for the check a trade & suddenly in the final everyone wanted a ticket and cared about supporting the team?

If you could make the previous rounds & didn’t go because it was £3 a game, went to Wembley and now can’t make this because you spent too much on the last trip then it’s embarrassing. More bothered about going to TF to upload photos onto social media imo.

The club has the core support that will always go & then behind that has very little.’

‘I spent close to £500 for the CaT final. There’ll be divorce proceedings if I cancel our arrangements for this weekend and head to London again.’

‘At the last Play off final against Charlton, nearly every Charlton supporter that I spoke to actually supported a different club, they were just there having a day out and offering another smaller London club support.’

‘Those who making the point Charlton are taking more… If the game was around 20 miles away from us, for example imagine the national stadium in somewhere like Whitley Bay. How easy, cheap and convenient would it be for us?

Out of all those Charlton fans tomorrow, how many would be up for/able to make the trip up north. We’ll never know but I reckon Charlton would take at least 10k less and we would be capable of selling over 50k if the availability was there. Geography makes a massive difference.

I’m proud of our following tomorrow.’




‘Sub conscious mate from them up the road, 52,000 mentioned in every media reference….it doesn’t happen with any other club in football and attendance is used as another parameter from them to try and put us down.

They don’t like to hear about the pre-Keegan attendances though, or even their Checkatrade attendances this season at SJP.’

‘It’s seemingly all us and the mags have to sing about.

I’m 26 and don’t get it. Shame we haven’t sold out but doesn’t matter. I’m not a ST holder anymore but the 26,000 for Pompey at home was louder than most of our time in the premier League. That’s what I’d prefer every game.’

‘It all stems from those up the road, they’re obsessed with them and it’s filtered to us as the only bragging rights the two clubs have…not trophies, but how many we each get through the doors or take on away days. North East football is embarrassing in that respect.’

‘I just didn’t have any money left after Wembley and a few other things this month and there will be plenty of others in the same boat, we don’t have millions of plastics willing to take our seats like Man United do, we are proper football fans in a working class city which is one of the furthest distances from Wembley.’

‘I’ve got no beef with Charlton or their attendances at home or at Wembley. They are a club of a certain size in a crowded market.

It’s just stupid to read anything into their seemingly superior attendance to the final. There is nothing to interpret.

We are a far bigger club. It is what it is.’

‘Let’s all move on from the crowd issue now, it is what it is. 35000 is still a good effort, bit disappointed there will be some empty seats but not the end of the world.’

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The most desperate Newcastle United transfer ‘Exclusive’ of the summer…so far

newcastle united crest surfer flag

When it comes to Newcastle United transfer ‘exclusives’, there is desperate and then there is DESPERATE.

Anybody with a brain knows that there is no chance of Newcastle buying anybody, until the Rafa Benitez situation is sorted one way or another.

However, Newcastle fans do accept up to a point that the newspapers are still going to be running transfer stories in the meantime.




All we ask is that they don’t embarrass themselves too much.

Friday has brought the most embarrassing Newcastle United transfer ‘exclusive’ since the window opened eight days ago.

Indeed it could be a front runner for the worst of the whole summer.

The desperation for clicks is all too apparent with this one from The Star.

Their headline shouting out ‘Newcastle transfer EXCLUSIVE: Toon and Lazio battling for £16m Brazilian star.’

Not even naming the supposed transfer target in the headline puts you on a warning straight away.

The mystery ‘Brazilian star’ in this instance is Wesley Moraes of Club Brugge.

The really embarrassing thing though is that The Star claim this on Friday as an ‘exclusive’, yet on Monday The Mag (see below) and everybody else ran this exact same story about supposed Lazio and Newcastle interest in the striker.

The headline from The Star :

‘Newcastle transfer EXCLUSIVE: Toon and Lazio battling for £16m Brazilian star.’

‘NEWCASTLE are facing a head-to-head transfer battle with Lazio to land Brazilian forward Wesley Moraes this summer, Starsport understands.

Benitez is keen to bolster his attacking options in the coming months and United are firmly in the hunt to land Club Brugge forward Moraes.’




The Mag – 20 May 2019:

Wesley Moraes is definitely leaving Belgium this summer.

The 22 Brazilian striker ended his season with Brugge on Sunday, a 3-2 home win over Antwerp on Sunday.

He left the pitch in tears and afterwards confirmed it was due to the fact he is leaving the club this summer, saying he has to ‘give it a go’ at a higher level next season.

His three and a half years at Brugge have seen the 6ft 3 forward score 32 league goals in 78 starts (plus 29 appearances off the bench).

This compares to Aleksandar Mitrovic’ record of 36 goals in the Belgian league in 65 starts (plus 4 sub appearances) for Anderlecht before he joined Newcastle as a 20 year old back in 2015.

Lazio have been regularly linked with Wesley Moraes and Corriere dello Sport have given that link more coverage today – but have also quoted the striker’s agent saying that there has been contact this month from Newcastle United and West Ham as well.

Newcastle are reported to have watched the striker (as well as countless others…) this season and he has scored 17 goals (13 in the league) in all competitions and got 10 assists as well.

After Sunday’s game, Wesley Moraes stated ‘I have a preference for the Premier League’ but claimed he doesn’t know yet who he will be signing for.

Another name for the summer signing list…

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When asked about his future after the final game of the season on Sunday, a 3-2 home win over Antwerp, Wesley Moraes said:

“I’m really sad to leave (Brugge) and that is why I cried.

“I do not know yet (who I will sign for) but I have a preference for the Premier League, we will see what happens.

“I have to give it a go (at a higher level).

“It has been three years since I arrived (in January 2016) at Brugge (from Slovakian club Trencin).

“It (Brugge) is a great club that has made me grow and progress.

“A club with whom I discovered the Champions League and scored important goals, now I’m going to meet a new challenge.”




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Newcastle United timeline – 76 days since reached safety and now 76 days until transfer deadline

newcastle united

A little piece of perfect symmetry going on for Newcastle United today.

In terms of looking both backwards and forwards.

It is now 76 days since Newcastle United effectively reached Premier League safety.




That day we had the Jordan Pickford clown show as he lost the plot and ended up helping NUFC secure a 3-2 win (and PL safety), That victory put Newcastle on 34 points, a total that Cardiff couldn’t even pass nine weeks later when the season ended.

Looking in the other direction,  it is 76 days until the summer transfer window ends.

I don’t want to worry anybody but that Everton match doesn’t seen very long ago at all.

It sums up to me just how desperate and stupid this current position is, as we are already 12 days passed the season ending and 8 days since the transfer window opened.

That only scratches the surface though, as it is at least 56 days since Rafa Benitez gave Mike Ashley his exact conditions on which signing a contract rest.

No time for panic but certainly it is very much time for concern at the fact this summer is looking to have all the hallmarks of yet another Mike Ashley disaster.

He cares little if letting things drag, or for the manager position to have a lack of certainty or indeed a clown (Pardew, JFK, Carver, McClaren) occupying it. Whilst the NUFC owner sees seemingly no advantage or urgency in signing players early, as opposed to the final stages of a window with no pre-season.

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Down below is the Newcastle United timeline of things that have gone by and landmarks set to be on us very soon…

76 days ago

9 March 2019 – Newcastle beat Everton 3-2 and reach 34 points, effectively reaching Premier League safety. Cardiff end the season nine weeks later on 34 points and a far worse goal difference.

56 days ago (at least)

Rafa Benitez reveals that Mike Ashley requested his exact conditions for signing a new contract and he forwarded them to the NUFC owner back in March.

33 days ago

21 April 2019 – Cardiff lose to Liverpool meaning they can’t catch Newcastle (who won 3-1 at home to Southampton the day before), which confirms the Magpies are mathematically safe.

12 days ago

The Premier League season officially ends, Newcastle win 4-0 at Fulham and finish 13th in the table.

8 days ago

16 May 2019 – Rafa Benitez meets Mike Ashley in London.

THIS IS NOW (24 May 2019)

20 days time

13 June 2019 – Premier League fixtures are released.

39 days time

2 July 2019 – Newcastle squad returns for pre-season.

54 days time

17 July 2019 – Newcastle play Wolves in China.

76 days time

8 August – Premier League transfer window closes.

78 days time

10 August – Premier League season kicks off




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Not all of these departures would be welcomed by Newcastle fans but they are a gift for Mike Ashley

newcastle fans at fulham

Whilst Brexit and European Elections continue to overwhelm the nation, a more local election still demands the undivided attention of Newcastle fans.

The electorate only want one name on the ballot paper and that is the sitting candidate.

Only Mike Ashley could manage to get things so spectacularly wrong, when you have already had the right/only answer sitting in front of you for over three years.




The NUFC owner is the only one with a vote and he just has to pop a cross in the box. However, instead it feels like he has every intention of ruining his ballot paper.

As Mike Ashley continues to refuse to bring the Rafa Benitez contract situation to a positive conclusion, maybe the most frustrating thing is that they/he don’t even have to look for money to fund progress.

This isn’t a case of Rafa Benitez asking for the world and the owner unable to deliver, it will simply come down to the owner choosing to lose the manager, if Rafa walks away.

There is the money that hasn’t been spent from the previous (2017/18) season, the cash generated by this (2018/19) season just ended, then the guaranteed revenues from another upcoming (2019/20) Premier League.

Norwich City, like many clubs do, have already put in place a loan set against the upcoming season’s guaranteed Premier League revenues. This enables them to get on and bring in the players they need now, to give them the best chance of being a Premier League club the following season.

Mike Ashley, as often happens at Newcastle United, finds luck falling into his lap.

Isaac Hayden needs to leave for family reasons, both Dwight Gayle and Jonjo Shelvey are also set to go, whilst a good chance Ayoze Perez will be joining that trio going out of the door.

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Not all of these departures would be welcomed by Newcastle fans but they are a gift for Mike Ashley.

There could, with today’s market, easily be up to £75m brought in by those sales.

If that money was genuinely made available (rather than a token amount now and the rest on the never never in years to come) to Rafa Benitez this summer, as well as even a basic £50m budget that has been talked of, the manager would have the breakthrough transfer window he has been wanting since promotion.

A transfer window to put the right foundations in place to establish Newcastle United in the top eight.

With others such as Clark, Atsu, Darlow and Murphy to be sold on to top up funds, plus wages saved by offloading Aarons, Joselu, Lazaar and Diame. Rafa could properly revolutionise the squad and Mike Ashley doesn’t even need to look for the money.

Bringing in eight or so players from first team certainties to squad players, across whatever ages and leagues, Newcastle have the manager in place who can successfully oversee such a transformation.

All Mike Ashley has to do is vote Rafa Benitez, or preferably elect to sell the football club.

There are no other options, or at least none that make any sense.




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