Last season ended with a bang, but the Summer 2018 transfer window was silent for Newcastle, until the final stages of the FIFA World Cup.
Last season, Newcastle over-performed, winning most home matches from February onward, and finishing 10th in the table. Pundits credit manager Rafael Benítez for that surge, and predict that Newcastle will finish around 13th - closer to where they should have finished last season.
The manager and the supporters knew that the Summer 2018 transfer window would be similar to last summer, with more players being sold than being brought in. But I think that had to happen, as there were players of low quality or who didn't have the trust of Benítez. No one wanted Jack Colback on the payroll anymore.
In the summer window, which closed last week, Newcastle sold the following players:
- Aleksandar Mitrović (striker)
- Mikel Merino (midfielder)
- Chancel M'Bemba (center back)
- Adam Armstrong (midfielder)
- Ivan Toney (reserve striker)
- The club declined to renew contracts for Massadio Haïdara (left back), Curtis Good (center back), Jesús Gámez (right back) and Stuart Findlay (center back).
- They also loaned out Jack Colback (midfielder) and Dwight Gale (striker) to serve out their contracts with other clubs.
Newcastle brought in the following players:
- Martin Dúbravka (keeper)
- Sung-yueng Ki (midfielder)
- Kenedy (left winger, on-loan)
- Yoshimori Muto (striker)
- Fabian Schär (center back)
- Jose Salomón Rondón (striker, on-loan)
The loanees in particular are crucial signings, considering their talent and crucial roles. Kenedy, since joining the club on-loan in January, has proven himself to be the best left winger at the club since Jonas Gutierrez. Rondón was signed as part of a rare player swap. Newcastle loaned Dwight Gayle to West Brom, and they loaned Rondón to Newcastle. It is the hope of both clubs that the strikers will find more success with the change. I liked Gayle. But he wasn't the Number 9 striker Benítez needed. The manager is looking for a guy who can get over 10 goals per season. For a club that doesn't score often, that would be a start.
For the second consecutive summer, Newcastle sold or released more players than were brought-in. But the quality of this year's arrivals are higher than last year's, at least on paper. Newcastle have a star goalkeeper, a star winger (if temporary), a deeper midfield and two new strikers, who have replaced the ones the manager did not trust.
However, it's not all good news on Tyneside. Benítez is in the final season of his contract, and will not renew under the current ownership and board. The club needs to be sold, but it can't if the owner keeps "loaning" cash to the club and refuses all offers under £400 Million. The key loanees, Kenedy and Rondón, are bound to leave unless a new owner can come in and put the big money down to sign them to contracts. If someone is going to buy Newcastle united this season, they will have to pay more than the club is currently worth, approve some big contracts, and accept that it will take a while for the club to climb to a £500M valuation. It's going to take a new owner, a new board, and more patience - the kind of patience that Benítez has shown with this current regime.
Despite a frustrating loss to begin the 2018-19 season, the squad is positive and is poised to get their first win soon. They go to Cardiff next.
They and we are United.