There are question marks over Rafa Benitez’ role as manager of Newcastle United with the former Liverpool boss apparently frustrated with the board over lack of ambition in the transfer market. Benitez has allegedly demanded a transfer kitty of £20million to strengthen his team in the transfer window. However, with Newcastle on the slide in the Premier League is now the time to rock the boat?
Newcastle: Recent Form
Although Newcastle United sit five points clear of relegation currently in 15th place, their recent form should have fans slightly worried. They currently have the worst form in the league over the last six games, having taken just one point from a possible 18. That run has seen them lose to Bournemouth and Watford at home while they have picked up just one point on their travels at the Hawthorns.
Their face a fairly tough set of games in their run up to the New Year too, taking on Leicester City, Everton, Brighton and all-conquering Manchester City at home as well as trips to Arsenal and West Ham.
One statistic that should worry Benitez is 11.6 dispossessions per game. This ranks Newcastle fourth worst in the Premier League, and tells a story of a team that get caught in possession all too much. However, they do create chances – 12.7 shots per game ranks them eighth in the Premier League while 4.4 shots on target per game ranks them seventh. If they can hold onto the ball a bit better and get it forward then the chances are they will create more goals – which will improve their return of four goals in the last five games markedly.
Newcastle United: Off-field strife
What isn’t helping Benitez’ cause is the sale of the club. Mike Ashley put the club up for sale for £300million and so far has turned down at least one bid from a consortium fronted by English businesswoman Amanda Staveley. She has returned with a bid of £250million up front but despite changing the terms of how the money is to be paid the valuation falls far below what Ashley wants.
While the takeover shouldn’t affect how Newcastle play on the pitch, it will affect how much Rafa gets to spend. If Ashley is in the middle of negotiations to sell the club during the January window then the question has to be asked what motivation he has to add to the money the club spends on transfers and wages – and that impasse could cause Benitez to think more about moving on. That would be disastrous.
Club legend David Ginola talked on TalkSPORT in the UK about the importance of keeping Benitez at the club. He said
“To keep Rafael Benitez on board, that’s the main thing for Newcastle. If Rafa Benitez has an opportunity to go and manage another team, a big name, it’s going to be very difficult for Newcastle to keep him. Keeping Benitez is key for the consistency and the stability of the club in the next five years and if you lose him, you’re going to go back to the nightmares you had in the past.”
Newcastle United: Upcoming fixtures
Newcastle’s next game in the Premier League sees them face a rejuvenated Leicester City at St James’ Park. Leicester come into the game in ninth place having only lost once in their last nine Premier League games, picking up four wins and four draws. Their away form isn’t brilliant – while they have not lost away from home in five games they’ve only won one of those games. That win for the Foxes came at Swansea City and is currently their only win on the road in the Premier League.
Newcastle do go into the game as marginal favourites at 2.52, with Leicester being offered at 2.80 and the draw at 3.26. The odds point to a low scoring Newcastle win or draw, with over 2.5 goals is offered at 1.92 and under is slightly shorter at 1.73. Both teams to score is 1.70 while no is available at 1.91.
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