It’s clear that Rafa did not get the players he wanted in the summer and the squad is not as strong as he had hoped for.
Rafa had a meeting in early May when he told Mike Ashley the team had to be significantly strengthened if we were to compete in the Premier League.
Not for the first time at Newcastle Mike Ashley refused to give out enough money to the manager and in total – including the £7M fee for Mikel Merino – we paid out about £19M net in the summer transfer window.
That’s not much when some European clubs were paying out a massive £192M for one player – which is completely ridiculous.
We paid out one-tenth (net) for our six players compared to what PSG paid for one player.
But since the window closed in late August Rafa has been trying to get the best out of the players he has.
Aleksandar Mitrovic – not used much at all this season
But he has refused to play Mitrovic enough and prefers Spanish U21 International Joselu as the point man up front.
But Joselu is not a natural goalscorer and has missed some good chances this season.
This is how Rafa explained in the Chronicle how he has to play up front given the players he has available:
“If we want our striker – it doesn’t matter what his name is – scoring lots of goals, we have to control our games.”
“I am sure they will all, Dwight, Mitro or Joselu, score goals – especially if we made 30 crosses per game.”
“But we don’t have that type of team.” “We are in the Premier League but have to realize our level.”
“A lot of games we don’t have the possession or control and we have to play counter-attack.”
“When we aren’t in the final third and the striker isn’t the quickest we then have to defend well and be strong to regain the ball.”
“We can play counter-attack but can’t expect certain things from certain players.” “If we don’t have the pace in the team we can’t be in there.”
“When we talk about Mitro or Joselu they are different to Dwight.” “Dwight has pace and the others are big and win balls in the air.”
“It makes a big difference.”
“If you play deep it’s more difficult for them because they are too far away.
“If we play high it is easier for them (Joselu and Mitrovic), but more difficult for Dwight Gayle.”
“It’s a question of space, and a lot of fans will realise this.”
“If they aren’t the quickest they have to be closer because when they aren’t you have to do a job for the team in the middle.
“When Joselu was playing there Perez is with him.” “Or when Diame has played he’s been a second striker for Dwight.”
“They are doing a great job for the team because we have to defend well if we want to stay in the games.”
“The debate about who should play?” “Well, you then go back to – ‘we have who we have’.”
“And these players are working so hard for the team that we have to support them.”
The major requirement in January is to bring in preferably two new strikers so we can start scoring some goals.
And we are hoping that Mitro gets a start at Chelsea today – but maybe not.