Newcastle United 2018/19 season preview: Can Rafa Benitez work his magic again?

Newcastle United 2018/19 season preview: Can Rafa Benitez work his magic again?

Rafa Benitez is frustrated more than ever over how the club is treating him, but can he save this Championship squad once again?

aaron-hindhaugh
Aaron Hindhaugh

At the end of last season Newcastle United fans were dreaming of pushing up the table and challenging for trophies after strolling past Chelsea - 3-0 on the final day.

Rafa Benitez was promised he could spend every penny that the club generated through player sales, yet he has only been able to spend £9 million thus far.

With less than two days left of the transfer window it seems unlikely Benitez will be breaking Newcastle's 14-year-old transfer record fee of £16.8 million.

The Toon Army faithful are worried about the season ahead, but Benitez has worked well on a tight budget and signed some good squad players.

New Lads

Two familiar faces returned to Tyneside this summer in the form of Martin Dubravka and Kenedy. The latter signing on loan after his numerous star-studded performances last season for Newcastle.

Dubravka could turn out to be one of the bargains of the summer only costing £4 million and he could well win The Magpies points on his own this season.

South Korean captain Ki Sung-Yueng was Newcastle's third signing of the summer and looks to be a steal as he can operate in Jonjo Shelvey's position of the Quarterback role; thus providing Shelvey with some rest during the season.

Newcastle have brought in Swiss international Fabian Schär, to provide some much-needed quality centre-back cover for Jamaal Lascelles particularly.

Japanese international Yoshinori Muto is the biggest transfer fee for Newcastle this summer and will bring energy and versatility to the side and hopefully some much-needed goals.

One of Benitez's main targets, Salomon Rondon eventually arrived on Tyneside on loan after a whole summer of pursuing the target man, Benitez will be hoping he can hold the ball up and get on the end of crosses from out-wide. 

Key Sales

The Rondon deal also involved Dwight Gayle going on loan to the Hawthorns for the season, both will be the number one striker at their respected clubs.

The big departure from Newcastle is Aleksander Mitrovic departing for Fulham for £22 million, after a successful loan spell at Craven Cottage last season.

Jesús Gámez, Massadio Haïdara and Matz Sels all leaving the club this summer after not contributing anything to the club in the last 12 months it makes financial sense to get them off the wage bill.

Important players

Club captain Lascelles will have to lead by example once again this year and organise the defence as well as he did last year.

The former Nottingham Forest man is a threat in both boxes and very rarely loses a header, he was Newcastle's fourth top goal scorer last season with three goals, which shows how crucial he is to the team and both ends of the pitch.

Two other players who can make an impact are Jonjo Shelvey and Kenedy, the new loan signing from Chelsea who spent the second half of last season at St. James' Park. Shelvey can dictate a game's tempo and style of play and that is what Newcastle need in order to have a chance of staying up this year.

The former Liverpool man can get Newcastle onto a dangerous attack with one pass with his fantastic range of passing and accuracy which is so crucial to getting Newcastle playing further up the pitch.

Meanwhile, Kenedy will have the chance to play his first full season of English football and he could thrive with a lot of game time and freedom that Benitez gives him on the wing.

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Last season the Brazilian changed the way Newcastle played, he brought confidence and flare to the whole team, the attacking players all looked like they could score as his play brought belief to the side

Benitez will need the tricky winger to play like he did last season and deliver great crosses, beat his opponents and get to the back post for crosses.

Predicted Finish - 15th

All fans know that their manager is working on a bottom half Championship budget this season and will take another year of surviving with how little they've improved the starting XI. 

The reason Newcastle will be safe again this season is because how good of a manager the Spaniard is, as he can get results with any group of players; once he's worked with them for a long time, which is why his sides always finish seasons strong.

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