Rafa Benitez answered every question put to him at his press conference, and he’s one that doesn’t shirk his responsibilities.
He pointed out that two Chelsea players brought in during the last couple of transfer windows cost as much as Newcastle have spent in the previous six windows.
One way to think about it is that both teams brought in a new first-team goalkeeper in the summer.
Kepa (Arrizabalaga) from Athletic Bilbao cost the Blues £72M, and Martin Dubravka from Sparta Prague cost us £4M.
Watching the game on Saturday you couldn’t tell which one cost £72M and which cost £4M, but to be fair Kepa had very little to do.
We firmly believe that Dubravka will soon turn out to be one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League.
Rafa Benitez – the Pied Piper of Newcastle
Rafa said Newcastle cannot build a top team quickly because we don’t have the money.
But let’s take a step back.
The defenders we now have are better than last season – especially when Lejeune returns to the team.
We have brought in Fabian Schar, and Federico Fernandez and both played really well on Saturday – especially Fernandez who had a great game.
If he keeps playing like that Fernandez will be back in the Argentine squad.
The defense looks better than it was last season and now we have more experienced players at the back we could get quite a few clean sheets this season.
Rafa is very pleased with the defense but admitted we need to be better up front.
We brought in Rondon and Muto last summer, and we have yet to see them fully integrated into the team.
Kenedy also adds more than we had this time last year.
And we also brought in free agent Ki Sung-yueng, who was an excellent player at Swansea.
So if we can get a full-back, a number 10 and another striker brought in during the January window we will have a much better side.
Thinking only about the time Rafa has been at Newcastle – about two and a half years – these are the players he brought into Newcastle:
Dubravka, Yedlin, Clark, Schar, Fernandez, Sung-yueng, Diame, Hayden, Ritchie, Lejeune, Rondon, Muto, Murphy, and Kenedy.
Rondon and Kenedy are on loan for this season.
Also players he inherited like Jamaal Lascelles and Paul Dummett are much better players today.
We suspect we have a better team than we had just a year ago, and with Rafa’s contacts and his standing in the game, we could have a top team sooner than we think.
We hope we can have a top team sooner than we think.
But it will take longer than Rafa wanted – because of Ashley’s thriftiness and love of money – so much so that the owner doesn’t like to spend it.
We have an inkling Rafa may even be resigned to staying at Newcastle long term because in a year or two we will have a much better team.
And Rafa knows he will always have the 100% support of the Newcastle fans – and that’s worth a few points each season.
So rather than be disappointed at Rafa’s comments in his press conference today we think he’s thinking about staying long-term at the club.
That would be terrific.