The Toon Tribune: A summer of decline for Newcastle United

Connect in the back of the net

In the midst of a calamitous summer for Newcastle United supporters, the club must now act swiftly in order to prevent further anarchy on Tyneside.

A promising start

Following an emphatic 4-0 victory away at Fulham on the final day of the season, the Toon army, in their thousands, were in a buoyant mood in the capital and celebrated accordingly to cap off a solid season under Rafael Benitez. 

The result reflected a fine display in which the Magpies looked threatening almost every time they advanced, with the Geordies wishing to observe more matches like this under Benitez for years to come.

With Benitez’s contract set to expire the following month, talks began with the United hierarchy about extending the Spaniard’s deal. Both parties were willing to reach an agreement, with reports at the time stating that talks had been ‘positive’; a promising start to the summer for the Toon army.

A few weeks later, Newcastle fans were braced for even more pleasing news, with reports detailing that loathed owner Mike Ashley was in discussions to sell the club to UAE billionaire Sheikh Khaled. 

The Sheikh’s investment company ‘Bin Zayed Group’ even declared that they had “agreed terms” to purchase the club, intending to complete the transaction “at the earliest opportunity”. The toon faithful revelled in the pleasant updates, with their vision of their sleeping giant of a club being awaken slowly in the offing.

Deafening silence and remorseful news

Following weeks of silence, supporters began to feel restless. No update was provided on either Rafa’s future or the takeover, with some fans believing the takeover talk to be a smokescreen by Ashley in order to divert attention from Benitez’s contract situation. 

On the 24th June, supporters finally received an update; however, it was one that they feared the most – that Rafa was set to leave Newcastle upon the expiration of his contract. This would then be the start of the demise for a gruelling summer break.

Possible exodus of players and takeover tales

Days later, the club announced that forward Ayoze Perez sealed a move to Leicester City. United had lost their top-scorer of the last two seasons to a club they should be competing with. 

This transfer highlighted the lack of ambition of Newcastle United. The club should have built a team around such a player, with Perez, Salomon Rondon and Miguel Almiron excelling when playing together. 

Reports suggest that more players could be on their way out of St James’ Park. Academy product Sean Longstaff has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester United, while fan favourite Martin Dubravka has also been rumoured to leave.

In regard to the potential takeover, negotiations have seemingly stalled. For the past two seasons, there have been takeover rumours ongoing, however the Bin Zayed Group interest felt like it had more substance compared to the rest; especially since the group itself released such a compelling statement. 

Stuck

Newcastle now seem to be stuck with their despised owner. 

Not only this, they have lost a world-class manager who was the only glimmer of hope for the future of the club. In addition they have lost their two top-scorers from last season while subsequently baring a thin squad.

Had they held on to Rafa, players such as Perez and Rondon would have stayed, with Benitez looking to assemble a squad capable of challenging within the top half of the Premier League. Instead, Newcastle have taken a huge, self-inflicted step backwards since the end of last season.