It was just under four short months ago that Newcastle United lifted the Championship trophy in front of a jubilant 52,000 supporters.
At the time, positive momentum seemed to be the driving force behind the club, with Rafa Benitez signing a new 3-year deal to stay at the club and Ashley publicly announcing that the manager could have “every last penny” to spend in the transfer market leading into a new Premier League season.
For the first time in a long time, Newcastle fans had a reason to be optimistic, or so it seemed.
Fast forward a couple of months and there is an all too familiar feeling of disappointment on Tyneside. Following the closure of the summer transfer window, the consensus within the Newcastle fanbase is that, although we have undoubtedly improved our squad in terms of quality and cut the wage bill extensively following a mass exodus of players, more should have been done by Ashley and Co.
Benitez now finds himself with a threadbare squad at his disposal, devoid of any real quality in several key positions and just one injury away from a crisis.
One of the most frustrating aspects of the summer transfer window has been United’s lack of ability to compete with club’s who Newcastle fans would argue are of no bigger stature.
Swansea have signed the likes of Renato Sanches from Bayern Munich and Wilfried Bony from Manchester City, West Brom have signed Paris Saint Germain’s Krychowiak, Stoke City signed Jese Rodriguez and Crystal Palace are on the verge of signing Mamadou Sakho for £26 million, but remember, we can’t expect to compete with clubs like Man City because our owner doesn’t have the ability to write a cheque for £200m.
If only he could’ve written one for a portion of that, it would have meant Benitez wouldn’t have been left scraping the barrel on deadline day for Southampton’s third choice left back, even then we couldn’t secure his services. A recurring theme over the summer as United missed out on most of their first and second choice’s due to an apparent ‘lack of funds’.
If Newcastle United were to be relegated this season, then there would be surely no coming back. Not only in terms of Ashley’s already tainted reputation, but also the club itself.
Last time out, we had Rafa and a big budget in a bid to bounce back at the first attempt, both of which led to turnstile figures hitting highs not too dissimilar from the previous campaign in the Premier League.
However, it would be nothing like that this time around. Rafa would, without doubt, leave. Fans would air their discontent with their absence on weekends and the club would surely not sustain a Premier League push “through its own means”, such is the gamble Ashley is taking. Same old, same old.