Rafa is busy working with Lee Charnley to try to bring more players into the squad with our most significant requirement still being to get in a new striker who can score goals for us.
Rafa is also directing the training camp at Carton House, and we take on St. Patrick’s Athletic tonight in Dublin in our first pre-season friendly game.
Stoke City are interested in signing Matt Ritchie, but he will only leave if Rafa can get Andros Townsend in, but that double deal seems to be a difficult one to pull off.
Matt Ritchie – could stay on Tyneside
And Rafa says he wants to keep all the players he has training with him at Carton House.
This is some of what he has said about Matt Ritchie to Sky Sports:
“We are in the same position as last year. He is our player and we don’t want to sell him.”
“To do a movement too many things will have to happen at the same time.”
“I was talking to him this morning and I don’t see any change in the situation.”
“I don’t think we will lose any of them. We will try our best to help him (Isaac Hayden) in his situation.”
“We will also do our best to protect the team because we need players and he’s a player we have a lot of trust in.”
“I have been here four years (sic) and I think I committed my future when I decided to stay in the Championship.”
“We won the Championship and are now in the Premier League after one year. We had a great season last year so I think we saw enough commitment.”
“Now we have to wait to see if we can challenge for higher position or challenge for trophies.”
“We have to wait to see what we are capable of doing.”
The last two seasons have been successful by anybody’s measurement.
But now the test is to be a top half team all season (no relegation worries) and hopefully push towards a top-six finish if possible.
Rafa also wants to keep Isaac Hayden at Newcastle – as he mentioned in his comments above.
Isaac wanted to leave for family reasons, but Rafa has started to talk to him to see if he can work out some solution.
We’ll see what happens on that front.