A season of exaggerations for Newcastle United (+win a Toon shirt)

Posted on April 11th, 2018 | 24 Comments |

Rafa - Manager of the Season?
Rafa – Manager of the Season?
Going on recent history, it is of course understandable to expect the worst at St James’ Park, but whilst fears of another potential relegation for the Toon were somewhat exaggerated earlier in the season, three wins on the spin has taken things in the opposite direction, with the hyperbole starting to go into overdrive. GQ magazine even went so far as to claim that Benitez has performed a “miracle” and that this miracle deserves to be rewarded with a ‘Manager of the Year’ award.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very glad that Benitez is our manager, I thought he was an excellent manager many years ago at Valencia and always thought he would do a very good job on Tyneside in the long run, but steady on!

Maybe some of this has been built on the myth (which has been mentioned many times) that Benitez has had to struggle with a ‘Championship squad’ in the Premier League when they have actually been more of a lower mid-table squad. However parsimonious Mike Ashley has been with the Toon transfer kitty, the squad has still been well ahead of those of real Premier League underdogs such as Huddersfield, Brighton, Bournemouth and last but not least, Burnley. Even with the promising new January players like Kenedy and Dubravka, in the most competitive league in the world we are still a mediocre mid-table side with a long way still to go to be where we should be. Despite a convincing 2-1 victory against a fairly decent side in Leicester City in our last game, we are still goal shy with a top scorer who has only scored 5 goals. Our next game against Arsenal will be a much stiffer test, though not insurmountable of course as we have already beaten Manchester United this season. If you fancy Newcastle’s chances of another upset though, Betfair is the best for football bets.

To look at things in a more measured way, we have been a lower mid table squad whose average league position through the season has been 13th (with a high of 4th and a low of 18th). We are currently in 10th which is a bit higher than we should be, but to borrow a catchphrase from TV magician, Paul Daniels, so far we have punched above our weight a little bit, but not a lot! Meanwhile, Burnley, who have one of the cheapest squads in the League are currently in 7th place at the time of writing under gravel voiced ginger Supremo, Sean Dyche. The last few games, especially the one against Leicester have shown some encouraging signs for the future, but we will have to carry this winning form until the end of the season before we start talking about ‘miracles.’

NUFC Shirt competition

In association with Betfair, one lucky winner can win a new Newcastle United shirt in our latest competition!

To enter the competition, simply follow the instructions in the image, ie choose your favourite five a side team from the list below (A,B,C,D or E) and e.mail them in via the nufcblog.org contact page – Please title your message ‘Shirt competition’ and don’t forget to give us your shirt size too! All entries which correspond with mine will go into a hat (or some kind of large container) and will be drawn at random.

The competition ends at midnight, Sunday 15th April, and the winner will be published in the comments section below this post on Monday.

Good Luck!

Betfair competition

NUFCBlog Author: Frankly Various Frankly Various has written 67 articles on this blog.

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24 Responses

  1. Well i’m not so sure what we have accomplished so far isn’t something special, but lets see at the end of the season. though I have to say a tenth place finish is nothing to be ashamed of, when one considers the money involved.

    However it’s difficult to give numbers in regard to how much each individual club has actually spent and I would be surprised as a newly promoted side if NUFC wasn’t among the lowest spenders.

    And yes there is no doubt that Benitez is the one responsible and as such any reward for that is justified IMO

    You mention Burnley and their manager Dyche as an exceptional club with a very good manager, perhaps that may be the standard we will have to hope for, depending of course on who is doling out the cash.

    Being we cannot hope to compete with the wealthier clubs, though we could I suppose end up being owned by someone with very deep pockets .

    Otherwise we shall have to set our standards to emulate sides like Burnley and perhaps Leicester, with possibly a base of home grown players, which requires both a decent scouting system, plus a well run youth system surely wouldn’t hurt, not a jobs for the boys operation, which it has been for years .

    We do have the best possible manager IMO who not only employs a horses for courses tactical approach but a constantly changing lineup to
    confront the various tactics and personnel of our opponents .

    As far as improving performances It appears Rafa. is somewhat didactic and continues to improve our players over the season with personal criticisms of things he believes need changing.

    I guess what i’m saying is I didn’t realize exactly how good this guy is as a manager, teacher, tactician, recruiter, you name it.

  2. A deserved win against a weakened but still substantial Arsenal side.

    “Who’d a thunk it” !

    It’s a pleasure to watch a side who are obviously well drilled and willing to give that 100% effort that Geordie fans demand, something we have rarely seen during the last decade or so, highlighted by a win against MU and a good run in against some decent sides.

    Though I still don’t believe the talent level is as good as the majority of PL sides, the fact we have Rafa Benitez in control of both the tactics and the ability to inject a winning mentality, makes the team better than the sum of it’s parts.

    If I were Ashley, I would certainly be having second thought’s about selling , now that it’s obvious it was a case of poor management all along, that all of his beliefs in buying young and cheaply on the continent and selling for big bucks could with good management, possibly have resulted in a successful policy.

    However it also appears he has had enough, I suppose it was an interesting distraction for him, both in the sense of major toy, at the same time use as an adjunct to his real business, which no doubt benefitted from tv exposure, as a free advertising board, though he knew when he renamed the stadium, he had overstepped a moral unspoken responsibility and eventually backed down, showing that in fact the fans, Do have a say in certain matters.

    Well from a fan point of view it hasn’t been a particularly happy decade, having suffered two relegation periods and i’m sure we would all prefer an
    owner/s who wants a certain success for the club in the future.

    Lets see what happens, the good news is that from all reports, it seems Rafa Benitez, has given no indication he wants to leave, following what I consider a transformation from a side of mediocrities to a winning side which could be the beginning of a new era for NUFC.

  3. The answer in the competition was Team E, though it was hard for me to choose and I must admit I could have chosen another one on another day.

    Anyway, without further ado, congratulations to ChrisW for winning the shirt! And Thankyou to all who took part

    Chris, I have sent an e.mail to you to sort out the details. Well done!

  4. Chuck, calm down! I thought you were going to start saying you wanted Ashley to stay there! Looking at the team’s play, things certainly seem to be going in the right direction, but it is only four games since we were struggling. I didn’t say all that about Burnley and Sean Dyche, I don’t get all excited about them or anything like that but fair play, they have battled away and done a remarkable job in terms of results.

    I’m sorry it has taken me to reply to this and your other comments but I’ve been out for the weekend, it’d very late and I’m knackered now so I’ll reply properly tomorrow.

  5. Worky,
    No sweat I see where you are trying to inject a bit of reader response, and good luck with that.

    As far as football is concerned the season’s basically over, as the club are safe from relegation, though I would like to see them jump above Everton and whichever other club we could possibly beat out, but it’s basically done and I have to admit a tenth place finish is more than I thought possible.

    I won’t bore you with any enthusiastic projections for the coming season, or any depressive comments on Rafa’s, possible exit and all it might entail, but for a change looking to-wards the future with a more enthusiastic attitude.

  6. Optimism? Gushing about our prospects? This isn’t like you at all, Chuck! Have you finally been prescribed some happy pills? Just take it one game at a time and let’s not get too premature as we usually do.

    As we’re on the subject of enthusiastic projections though, can we even aspire to the Europa League in the future as the top four turns into the top six? It might be better to try and have a good cup run for once as a way of getting into Europe.

    Have you been following the so called ‘Windrush’ fiasco over here? I’ll be shocked if you haven’t as it has been the perfect fuel for your usual style of England bashing from a 1940s anti-colonial angle. I have even been waiting for your usual long, coruscating essay on the matter as you have an open goal to shoot at as it really is awful and indefensible. You can argue whether Theresa May herself is a racist or not, but when you go through the things she has done in terms of immigration, both as Home Secretary and Prime Minister to please the far right, she has done some things which it is hard to interpret in other ways.

  7. Am I surprised by the wind rush situation, why would be, knowing that England is and has always been a racist country, there’s no denying it.

    And most are aware that the main reason for Brexit, especially the 75% of over 60’s who voted leave because of a yearning for white faces .

    However there’s hope in the fact 75% of the under 25’s voted to stay, these are the future of the country and who grew up within and accepting a multi racial society.

  8. Hmm ! certainly plenty of news to fill the tabloids these days, with both Jeremy and Theresa going at it in the Parliament, he more or less accusing both she and the Tory’s of racism, in regards to the lost or disappearance of records of just who was landed from the Empire Windrush, the vessel that brought those immigrants from Jamaica and the Caribbean, following WW2. to engage in such wonderful careers as bus drivers and conductors and of course other jobs.

    It appears each party , both Tory’s and Labour are each accusing each other of the disappearance of the landing documents, leaving it open for anyone to claim they either took passage or are descendants of those who did, which prevents them from being returned as illegal immigrants.

    Meanwhile Theresa was referring to the Labour Party as being anti -semitic, which at the time caused an uproar in the parliament , requiring the speaker to intervene so that those speaking could be heard, most impolite I should add.

    While this was taking place apparently Brexit was not mentioned once, though Berty Aherne, the Irish PM at the time of the Good Friday agreements was insisting that any hard border would be torn down by the population, of course not in a terroristic manner, he didn’t quite specify the difference between different tearing downs, and of course the loyalist voices were raised against any red line of a future custom union, drawn through the Irish sea that would cause any kind of separation from themselves and the motherland UK, even though they voted “Stay” and could if they voted for that particular customs union, possibly continue to receive those very welcome farm subsidies from the EU.

    While over at Buck House Her Imperial Majesty was voicing a welcome to the remnants of Empire otherwise known as The Commonwealth of Nations, whose purpose is still to be decided, originally it was an effort to hang on to the markets that had made Britain great, but is now regarded by most as, well no one really knows ?

    She Queen Elizabeth did however mention that her eldest son Charles The Prince of Wales could possibly inherit the role as head of the commonwealth, not actually right now of course, or maybe, who knows ?
    I’m sure that went down a treat with the current members.

    It struck me as being a bit archaic, in this day and age, thinking, is he the best choice within a group of over two billion people, I mean no insult intended but I don’t see her Majesty in any rush to let him take over as King and of course there’s the fact he is regarded as a little strange, talking to flowers and other unusual pastimes, ah well ! I suppose what harm could it do, after all what is there to do as head of the commonwealth, they don’t do anything but hold a sporting event, every few years.

    The there’s the wedding of Harry as he seems to be known, to an attractive American actor and apparently the pottery business is going full blast churning out cups plates and all kinds of souvenirs, that will cost a bomb and fill the royal coffers, even stimulate the economy perhaps.

    And the most prominent of The Commonwealth of Nations, Canada, is chomping at the bit to sign a trade agreement immediately following Brexit,

    Hey ain’t life grand !

    There’s just

    prince of Wales

  9. woohoo! nice one!

    The shirt was waiting for me when I got back from a trip away, it fits too! thanks lads!

  10. It will be interesting to see how the Irish open border / customs union works out, as apparently the EU officials dealing with brexit, have gone through the UK’s attempts to solve the problem line by line and reached the conclusion that none are acceptable.

    It will be interesting to see who blinks first.

    Of course that’s just one of the sticking points, that the UK negotiators believe they can ram through, depending on the fact each side are in need of each other for economic reasons and if the UK act’s tough enough the EU will cave , not a policy that I would recommend, being
    the trade between the ROI is very important to the UK, as is an open border between both country’s and mutual free travel, also the US having played a large role in the negotiations has certain powerful figures who are presently concerned about the ongoing situation.

    On the other hand political stability in the old Warsaw pact countries is not exactly stable and they may if the EU caves see opportunities for themselves, plus we are all aware of their rejection of both Muslim and African refugees and their propensity for a type of neo- fascism, which they may very well exploit.

    It’s amazing how a simple attempt to increase the Tory Party’s majority in Parliament has opened such a Pandora’s Box of possibilities, thank you
    Mr Cameron.

    I suppose that the present meeting of Commonwealth Countries, will be seen as an opportunity to revive the old trade agreements that were once forced on them as former Colonies, apparently the groundwork of accepting HRH prince Charles to assume the leadership has been successful, but I certainly don’t see that as anything too positive, in comparison to being a member of the worlds largest market, the EU.

    If anything a forlorn hope and possibility that perhaps an increase in trade with the worlds second largest population India, with it’s increasing industrial power and wealth, after all they have taken over those run down industries, like British Steel and Rover, which gave those industries access to the EU as a member of the customs union, but now will no longer present the same opportunities on leaving that market.

    I suppose it’s not much fun being Theresa May these days and I’m sure Jeremy is happy enough as the loyal opposition, having so many opportunities to take cheap shots at her, though he constantly screws them up and never IMO be elected as PM, perhaps he should turn it over to McDonnell, who presents a much more dynamic personality than wor Jeremy and would no doubt be more acceptable to the public, unless of course there’s a palace coup from the Blairites, unfortunately the days of Old Labour and those men who brought about a brave new world of socialism are over as is the Labour Movement that brought it about, is being replaced by an increasing world of robotics and artificial intelligence.

    And unfortunately Britain to the rest of the world appears to be attempting a “cut off its nose to spite it’s face” policy of reverting to a go it alone policy of god only knows what, a jump into the unknown, while others are forming trade groups and tariff free organizations, sorry but I just don’t get it !

  11. With regard to the Arsene Wenger situation at Arsenal, I keep hearing something that is making my skin crawl and my blood run cold: “What about Rafa?” they are saying “he’s managed big clubs and won trophies”. It needs to be suppressed! Hurry up and give the job to Ancelloti FFS!

    Chuckles, a Yank accusing another nation of being a ‘racist country’ is a bit like a Saudi Arabian accusing other countries of being intolerant. During the war, black soldiers who came over here were shocked to find that we didn’t have racial segregation over here, that they could associate with white British people quite freely without being lynched, and British people were shocked at the disgusting treatment of black servicemen by the Americans. It was even the same decades later in the sixties when black blues and soul artists used to come over here to tour. That isn’t to say that Britain is perfect by any means, but you Yanks need to sort out your own racist country before you start lecturing others.

    As for the EU, something will be sorted out and life will go on. For someone from the US, you seem very concerned, almost to the point of obsession. I am actually a British person living in the city which will be the most affected and I am nowhere near as concerned about it as you are.

    Another thing I’m not unduly concerned about was the news that Sunderland have relegated again, to League One this time! Billionaire Ellis Short is certainly doing as sterling job there, if you’re a Geordie! He’s even making Mike Ashley look like a competent owner!

  12. It’s no secret that the US is a racist country, anymore than the fact Britain’s African colonies and Asian colonies were racist, in practice if not in law.
    As a matter of fact the British earned vast sums from the infamous “middle passage”, dominating the route taken by their slave ships, which transported African slaves to both the West Indies and North America for over three hundred years, which by far outnumbered other European countries and many of to-days large companies and wealthy families in the UK are the descendants of those who’s wealth was directly from that ill gained enterprise, which even to-day is not a well known fact.

    Well I suppose I could rant on about Donald trump, but so far he has actually done little but call people names and threaten others via tweets or twitter, that and tell a few lies, misrepresent himself, begin a trade war, which has the stock market up and down like an elevator, but actually we see no sign of any wall between ourselves and our neighbors to the south

  13. cont.

    Fact is The Donald is fairly boring and I believe he picked the wrong fight in going after the FBI, which will eventually be his downfall, or not.

    Nor have we invaded anywhere that i’m aware of, lately.

    Sure we fired a few missiles and more or less got the French and UK to join in, shades of the Iraq war and Blair, and if Blair was Bush’s poodle , what does that make PM May ?

    I suppose it would be in her best interest to keep him happy, being the UK needs all the help it can get, when jumping into the unknown, this coming year, if they get that far, as the negotiations appear to have some serious roadblocks.
    Ah well if you are unconcerned about it why should I be.

  14. Ellis Short, look I’m not one of those guys who has any distain for Sunderland fans and their present misfortune and hey Ellis is going to do whatever he wants, actually to buy the club at this time and put a few bob into it, could result in a decent return, it’s a good stadium, all it needs is a decent side that will attract the fans back.
    Though there may be a lot of people laid off at the Nissan plant, that’s what happens when you vote leave the EU, where the majority of Nissan’s production goes.
    Wise up guy’s !

  15. Worky
    I see a number of Toon fans including yourself and on thinking about it me too, are becoming more concerned by the day, that Rafa may jump, sure he is smart enough to keep it hidden from the public, but there’s no doubt the only thing that will keep him here is a promise from a new ownership, that he will have sufficient investment to carry out his present rebuilding job.

    The annual payments from the league should be sufficient to keep the club in the PL, but their will have to be an increase in other revenues, if the club has ambition to be a top six side and the club will have to invest more in youth, with an improved scouting system.

    Certainly Rafa. can take care of the footballing side, but unfortunately the club has never had a decent business side, top management has always been Ashley, who really has never had time to take care of both SD and Nufc .

    I mean does anyone think that the chubby guy with the glasses can compete with the upper management of MUtd., Citeh, or Spurs. ?

    It’s my belief that Ashley will sell, but if he doesn’t Rafa. is not going to listen to another con job and will be off, then it’s back to square one.

    On the other hand there are any number of management roles becoming available, Arsenal for one, but the number of top managers is becoming less, just in the top six, there’s Arsenal, Chelsea, possibly MU. then Everton, possibly Leicester, the Big Sam guys are being weeded out but there are clubs like Monaco and numerous others that have new up and coming managers who are ready to manage in the EPL and of course who comes with a better record than Rafa. himself.
    Watch out Ashley. you could still end up owning a former PL side following relegation next season, not unlike Sunderland, this is your best opportunity right now.

  16. Chuck, I was quite calm until other people started mentioning Benitez in connection with Arsenal, which is enough to give any Geordie palpitations. Other Champions League winning Managers like Ancelloti and Luis Enrique are available though and that’s a good thing. Personally, I hope they get Brendan Rodgers as some idiot suggested on the TV or the radio (can’t remember which). I think Luis Enrique is probably the favourite, then Ancelloti. If they come for Benitez, Ashley will be wanting a huge bunce from the deal of course.

    As I know you are such an ardent monarchist, I’m sure that you will be ‘over the moon’ about William and Kate’s new arrival! I expect you are glued to the TV over there watching all the rolling news, full of anticipation about getting your first look at the little fella? He’s fifth in line to the throne, apparently. God they are so bland and bourgeois now! We used to have monarchs like Alfred the Great, William the Bastard, Henry V, Henry XIII, Elizabeth I, and now we have this shower of mediocrities. Could you imagine Prince Charles or Prince William beheading a Viking or a Frenchman in battle? I don’t think so.

    Chuck, I know I’ve said this already but you really are obsessed with this Brexit thing. Chill out! Like Gloria Gaynor, we will survive. The UK has just overtaken France to be the world’s 5th largest economy once more.

    When you actually read history, slavery and racism was more strange and complex than people who only have a fuzzy knowledge of history might imagine. Do you know the story of Oloudah Equiano? In his life he was both a slave and a London gentleman, writer and anti Slavery campaigner of some celebrity. I have his book ‘The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano’ or Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself.’ Obviously, this was written in the days when the art of the snappy title was in its infancy! Anyway, in the UK, we exported most of that sort of beastliness, to your side of the pond, the Caribbean and numerous other parts of the globe.

    Though the British slave trade was huge in its day, it was the Portuguese who were the most active slave traders, not the British. It was what they did, a bit like London today with banking and money laundering. And it was the power of the British navy which eventually stopped it, though of course, you Yanks loved slaves so much that it took you well over 50 years until you finally got with the program, only after a huge civil war though.

  17. The Everton game was a bit of a damp squib after our recent results. I think both sides deserved to lose in a game that was pure Allardyce, it had me bleary eyed with boredom and struggling to stay awake in parts. I can’t see a striker settling in properly this season with the way Rafa rotates them.

    Mohammed (Salah) definitely got the better of Roma defender, Jesus in the Champions League game this evening, I thought that was quite amusing as they battled with each other. I wish the Newcastle game had been that good.

  18. Somehow or other I don’t think that Rafa is what’s needed at Arsenal, not what they are looking for and don’t think it fits for Rafa either.

    I believe he has found his perfect fit (apart from the owner) and if given enough resources could re-make NUFC into a permanent top ten side.

    However I believe Ashley is no fool and will be looking at higher numbers than he would have, following Rafas. success, sure he wants out but with his evaluation will find it impossible to sell.

    Soh ! it’s back to square one, without Rafa, but no until next year, when his contract ends as I don’t think anyone will buy out Rafas. contract.

    Yes for some reason the Windsor’s and their behavior has been an object of scrutiny, being the last substantial Monarchy known to most, and the worship or curiosity about them and other celebrities is big business for the media, instead of informing the public about what may be of serious concern.
    As for the upcoming naming of the latest cast member, does anyone other than the most sycophantic royalty observers really care.

    “The middle Passage”

    Oh of course the British navy stopped it, however following over three hundred years in the Middle Passage I suppose they had a certain amount of guilt, not.

    Your statement about the Portuguese is wrong, yes they were originally along with England quite involved, but by far the English/British dominated , this odious transport of slaves westward, returning with mainly sugar and it’s by products and from an time earlier tobacco from Virginia then cotton from the deep south.

    The British slavers also provided both French and Spanish interests in the Caribbean, with slaves, it can’t be over-emphasized how long and how much profit was earned on literally the backs of these poor unfortunate Africans, and their earlier white “indentured servants” swept up from the highways of Ireland, the Scottish “Highland Clearances” debtors prisons, prisoners of war and political prisoners.

    The main players in “The Middle Passage” during those over three to four hundred years were, the British, French, Dutch, Portuguese and a variety of others, with the main player by far the English/British.

    Does the fact that because Britain first banned slavery justify over three hundred years of being the worlds main supplier of slaves to the western hemisphere, my friend that’s a stretch even for you.


    dutch, Portuge

    And yes it was in the newly formed colonies of America that guilt provided a notion and where color first became a major part of slavery, which has existed for centuries , but was never before subjected to any form of racism.but who were these slave owners, no doubt for the most part English settlers.

  19. Nobody comes out of the slave trade looking good except for the slaves. Even the people left in Africa are the often the descendents of the tribes who captured and sold the slaves to the slave traders. Of course, it is terrible whenever it happened, but I find it even more disturbing that perhaps the worst atrocities with slavery in Africa happened as late as the 1900s with Leopold II of Belgium and the Congo.

    “Your statement about the Portuguese is wrong”

    Chuck, perhaps one day you (and Hugh) will finally realise that I am never wrong:

    “The major Atlantic slave trading nations, ordered by trade volume, were: the Portuguese, the British, the French, the Spanish, and the Dutch Empires.”


    Thinking about what you were saying earlier about the immigration scandal, you are like Theresa May. She thought that the UK was a racist country like you, and because of that she thought that people wouldn’t care about what she was doing, and even that they would cheer her on and say how strong she is, like Margaret Thatcher.

    Moving on though, that poetic looking French starlet we hardly noticed, Florian Thauvin, turned into a real star as soon as he left Newcastle, which is faily typical. He scored for Marseilles in the Europa League semi final this evening. He scores alot.

  20. Well Chuck, are you still in raptures about the Rafa Revolution after the last two games? West Bromwich Albion are the worst team in the Premier League this season. It was the old problem, we dominated possession, we made the most chances but once again, we just couldn’t put it in the back of the net and a mere one goal was enough to beat us when we should have scored two or more in response.