The one question Rafa Benitez is asking himself again and again at Newcastle

Rafa Benitez, clearly, is frustrated, but he's used to being frustrated at Newcastle United. And he's keeping his frustrations in check '“ for now.

Tuesday, 31st July 2018, 6:04 pm
Updated Tuesday, 31st July 2018, 6:48 pm
Rafa Benitez.

The transfer window will close in nine days, and Benitez still needs four players.

It's not just time which is running out. Benitez just doesn't have the money to bring in the players he feels he needs to take United forward.

Benitez, after guiding the club to a 10th-placed finish last season, hoped to take the club even higher up the Premier League table.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Now, almost three months later, it's about survival. Again.

And again, it's about bringing in the players that he can bring in, not necessarily those he wants to bring in. There's a big difference. It was the same story last summer.

The club has done good business so far. Benitez has brought in experience from home and abroad, but has he strengthened the starting XI - or just the squad?

Benitez has been forced to sell to buy by owner Mike Ashley, who is unwilling to put any more money into the club.

Fans, having seen a number of high-profile departures, are asking where the money has gone.

Aleksandar Mitrovic left this week for Fulham in a deal worth more than £20million, yet the club is yet to activate Salomon Rondon's £16.5million release clause at West Bromwich Albion.

How much money is sitting in the club's account? We just don't know.

But, for fans, the numbers just don't add up, especially given that Newcastle banked more than £123million from the Premier League last season.

Benitez, now in the final year of his contract, is getting on with things as best he can while in Portugal with his team.

United's manager will be asking himself why billionaire Ashley – who has presided over two relegations during his time as owner – is willing to gamble again with the club's Premier League status.

This latest gamble looks like it will cost him his manager at the end of the season, as Benitez is not now minded to extend his contract.

Why? That's the question Benitez is asking himself. Why gamble?

If the money is there, why can't it be invested in a squad so the club can at least have a chance of competing higher up the table.

United were resilient over 90 minutes against Porto at the Estadio do Dragao on Saturday. However, being resilient over 38 Premier League games is another thing.

Benitez needs more quality and more competition, but will he get it?

He's fashioned a committed and hard-working team out of the shambles he inherited, but how much further can he take the club?

So Benitez is frustrated for the fourth transfer window in a row. And Newcastle supporters are getting increasingly angry, having seen what hope they had after last season slowly dissipate.

Benitez talked of spending a decade at St James's Park earlier this month.

Now, he could be gone in just over 10 months.