NUFC

Will Mike Ashley back Rafa Benitez in the Winter Transfer Window?

Having spent £57.79 million to get promoted at the first time of asking, Newcastle United then spent £39.47 million in an attempt to stay in the Premier League at the end of the 2017/18 season, per Planet Football, which was the 3rd lowest spend in the Premier League. But, with a little bit of magic from Rafa Benitez, the club managed to stave off relegation by 11 points and finish 10th in the table.

So, on the face of it, it’s understandable that Magpies owner Mike Ashley would be hesitant to spend too much more on transfers considering the grand return on his investment last season. But, with some strong teams winning promotion and others reinforcing, Newcastle United needed to spend to give Benitez a strong enough squad to stay in the league again.

In the summer, as recorded by Transfermarkt, Newcastle sold eight players for £38.99 million and then brought in six permanent signings for £29.12 million, with Salomon Rondon also coming in on loan for £1.98 million. All in all, Newcastle made £7.85 million in the summer window. But, despite the low-level summer spending this season, Mike Ashley has backed the team before, but when he did so in 2015, the club was relegated.

After a troublesome start to the season, with Newcastle getting three wins, three draws, and eight losses through 14 games to sit three points above the drop, fans are crying out for winter reinforcements. Luckily, there’s some good news for the fans, with Mike Ashley reportedly having funds to spend in the upcoming transfer window.

What Newcastle United Need in the Winter Window

Image Source: If Rafa Goes, We Go, via Twitter

Newcastle United were one of the lowest scoring teams in the league through the first 14 games, only scoring 11 goals. On the defensive side of things, the Magpies hadn’t been too bad with 19 goals against – far better than any of the five teams below them and Manchester United in seventh. So, Rafa Benitez must be looking to add some scoring or playmaking prowess to his forward corps, with HITC saying that strengthening the attack will be the manager’s main priority.

The team’s run of good form has helped them to escape the batch of teams deemed to be relegation favourites but still stood just three points above the relegation zone 14 games into the campaign. As of the 3rd of December, Newcastle United are at 7/2 to get relegated with Betway, while Southampton, Fulham, Huddersfield, Cardiff City, and Burnley all have odds to show that the experts favour them for Championship football next season.

However, that can all change over the course of a couple of games. On top of that, if those other clubs buy strong reinforcements in the winter transfer window and Newcastle don’t, the Magpies could find themselves slipping down the standings. If Benitez can convince Ashley to give him the funds to bring in a player who could be a consistent goalscorer at this level, the club should be able to climb to safety with games to spare.

Will Ashley Actually Back Benitez?

Image Source: BBC Sport, via Twitter

Regardless of how the team is playing, the Toon Army knows that Rafa Benitez has been given very limited backing in the Premier League and needs reinforcements to keep them up. He is already idolised by the fans, with owner Mike Ashley pegged as the one holding the team back. But, as much as the manager wants to bolster the team, he has his reservations as to whether he will get the funds that he needs to improve the team.

Back in October, Mike Ashley decided to take a more hands-on approach with the team, but Benitez – who has been vocal about his frustrations in the transfer market – remains sceptical of the owner and his intent to provide transfer funds. According to the Telegraph, Benitez isn’t convinced of Ashley’s intentions to spend money.

The owner has been subject to many protests from the fans due to how the club is being run, and the best way that he can begin to repair the broken relationship is by bringing in strong players during the winter transfer window. A playmaker to sit in attacking midfield and a goalscorer will do the team a world of good in the second half of the season.

While Mike Ashley is reported to have funds to invest in the squad in January, fans and the manager are suspicious as to whether or not those funds will be used, and if they’ll be used well. This may be further complicated if he does sell the club before the start of 2019, as he hopes to do according to the BBC.

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