Newcastle United are like a drunk Bigg Market reveller stopped by a bouncer from enjoying the party

Rafa Benitez.
Rafa Benitez.

It's Saturday night. It's late. The bars are closed, but you're ready for action. Suitably lubricated in the boozer - you're off to the swankiest nightclub the Bigg Market has to offer. This is your night, the big one.

"Sorry mate, you're not getting in!"

Mike Ashley failed to spend big in the transfer market again.

Mike Ashley failed to spend big in the transfer market again.

You're stopped by an oppressive, almost illogical presence at the door. But the evening is just getting started...

"No chance, you've had your fill!"

Bubble popped, night spoiled and any semblance of optimism sliding into the gutter, dejection sets in.

We've all been there before.

Benitez is the most qualified boss ever to fill the home dugout at St James's Park.

Benitez is the most qualified boss ever to fill the home dugout at St James's Park.

Just to compound things, it's then you realise, with nothing but a second rate kebab to soak up the deepening frustration, you can see your mates through the glass, lining up the shots, sinking drinks and dancing the night away.


You may have no idea where I am going with this but, to me, that is just how this summer has felt at Newcastle United.

Everyone else has been invited to the Premier League party, while Rafa Benitez, his players and the fans watch on, helpless, hands tied.

I'm a writer first and foremost, but a fan, as well. I feel it.

Everyone else is taking advantage of the unprecedented riches being in the English top flight brings. Not Newcastle. Not Mike Ashley's Newcastle, anyway.

Only two clubs spent less than the Magpies. Crystal Palace, who arguably already had a stronger squad than United, and Tottenham Hotspur, whose new stadium seems to have had a say in Daniel Levy's dealings.

Only one club received more in transfer fees - Leicester City, who sold Riyad Mahrez for more money than United have spent in the three windows since getting promoted from the Championship.

No club made as much profit in the window in the division. Benitez has made a profit in two of his three summers at the helm.

Clubs like Bournemouth, Brighton and Huddersfield put United to shame, that's without even mentioning the spend by newly promoted Fulham and Wolves. Where's all the talk of 'the Premier League money isn't in the bank yet'?

We can compete. This time, it feels like we've chosen not to.

Yes, the club spent £23million (approximately). But they sold Aleksandar Mitrovic for £1million less than that. And Mikel Merino. And Chancel Mbemba. And the rest.

Yes, transfer fees come in installments, but where's the prize money from last season's 10th placed finish? Where's the cash from the TV deals, the gate receipts and everything else? Where has the money gone?

Overheads are understandable. The club must wipe it's own face, according to Ashley.

But you can't tell me, in a day and age where clubs are dished out more than £120million in prize money and cuts of the TV pot that Newcastle United, a club run on a skeleton staff under Ashley, cannot look after its own bills as well as allow a manager something to spend.

And the real frustration in all of this is not necessarily that Newcastle have not spent as much as some.

Money is not the be all and end all. It's the fact that, with their actions, they've put a halt on progression. They've appeared to work against a manager who wants nothing but to help the football club grow, to aid his own career, yes - but also for the betterment of the its players, the city and its fans.

His demands were not outlandish. He wants the club to improve from the bottom up. Kids to be coached right. Facilities to be brought up to scratch. Small comforts in a world of big egos and big pay cheques. He wants a better product on a Saturday in what is an entertainment business.

He was asked to deliver promotion in year one. He did it. He was asked to keep the team in the top flight last season. He did it at a canter all told.

Has he been rewarded for this achievement? No. In fact, he's been penalised.

Every window that passes under Benitez - now in potentially his last year as manager - feels like an opportunity lost.

He's the most qualified boss ever to fill the home dugout at St James's Park. Truth be told there might not be another like him.

With his expertise at the helm United should have eyes for European football. Instead, this campaign will be framed by the constant threat of the drop, as it was last. They may have finished 10th last time out, but were always fearing the bottom three, bar April and May.

That, in anyone's eyes, is not progression.

Benitez wants for more than that. He's a dreamer. He saw the same as you or I. He knows what this club can be, what it wanted to be. It feels as far away from that now as it did the day he walked through the door.

In all of this there are positives to be taken from the window that was.

For what it's worth I think United are stronger now than they were this time last year. I also think they are in a stronger position than they were at the start of the summer. The calibre of player recruited, and at a remarkably low price, deserves credit. This is because of Benitez and his extensive list of contacts. His willingness to give up a family holiday, makes calls until he ended up with a wrist brace on doctors orders.

They have a skipper in Jamaal Lascelles who cares about NUFC. They have a squad unlike many who have gone before. There are few egos. There is spirit in abundance, graft and effort in every one of them. In Benitez they have a manager who can squeeze every drop out of his players. Sometimes, I think this is to his detriment.

Players, fans and manager are pushing in one direction. It's a shame those at the top of the club appear not share the same dream.

Should this remain the status quo at SJP, we're all going to have to resign ourselves to that sad stare through the window, wishing we had what others so wilfully take for granted, yearning for just a sip. If this hangover continues to May next year, Newcastle fans will need more than just a sip.