Had they spent £16 million on James McCarthy, I probably would be disappointed a year from now. Had they overpaid for Andros Townsend to return to Tyneside, I likely still would have written a critical article. But neither of those would compare to how bitterly frustrated I feel right now.
Since about November, there were rumblings about who Rafa Benitez would bring in to bolster the squad. Some said that it could be former Liverpool players, others wondered if Rafa would draw upon his Spanish background. Instead, Newcastle find themselves in February with the same list of names that they had in November, save the sale of Cheick Tioté.
There were plenty of places that fans and even Rafa himself could identify the need for some fresh blood. A winger to rotate in with Matt Ritchie was high on the list, as was a back up for Jonjo Shelvey. An argument could be made for help at left back or an extra striker with Ayoze Perez struggling of late. Yet somehow, none of these things happened.
The fact that no one was brought in definitely makes me think that this is not as much Benitez’s team as I once thought. It is clear that management has not changed from it’s old ways of refusing to spend money, content merely to do the bare minimum to achieve an acceptable season.
Going into the year, I fully expected Newcastle to dominate the league. More than halfway through the campaign, not only are the Magpies not outclassing their opponents, they sit a point behind Brighton with a game in hand. They failed to make any sort of run in the FA Cup, exiting with a 3-0 drubbing to Oxford. They lost to one of if not the worst Premier League teams in Hull with a spot in the cup semifinal on the line, albeit, in a good showing. These results do not inspire any confidence in me for next season. If Mike Ashley and company continue to fail to improve this team during the summer, assuming that Newcastle does manage promotion, we will see the our boys back in the Championship for 2018.
Overall, this season has been a bit of a disappointment. Other than the quarterfinal run in the English League Cup, which still wasn’t overly impressive considering the teams they beat on that run, there isn’t much to hang your hat on.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed watching Dwight Gayle make keepers look foolish and Shelvey pull defenses apart, but I also recognize that the level of play from this team on a consistent basis is not good enough to be considered a Premier League caliber team. At least not for very long anyways.
Hopefully, summer will see Rafa truly take the reigns again and build this squad to be one that will remain in the Premier League for years to come.
And there is still a bright side. As one cheeky commenter, Sonic Rover, put it, “At least we didn’t lose today at home 1-2 to Watford after having done nothing.” Instead, we conceded a 90th minute own goal at home to cost us a win against QPR.
Yet somehow, I wouldn’t have it any other way.