Rafa Benitez admits he’s made mistakes in the transfer market.
But the Newcastle United boss says it’s something that goes with the territory, no matter how meticulous you are in tracking an individual player.
When you sign players you make mistakes. It’s not like buying a piece of furniture
While 21-goal Dwight Gayle has fired United to the top, Matt Ritchie has impressed with his attitude, goals and assists and Ciaran Clark enjoyed rave reviews for his classy, assured performances at the back, there are still some who criticise Benitez’s transfer policy at St James’s Park.
Critics point to the likes of Achraf Lazaar, Grant Hanley and Jesus Gamez, who have started just a handful of Championship games between them, as examples of where the Magpies transfer kitty was not well spent at all.
Benitez accepts he has made errors, but says these kind of mistakes are part and parcel of transfers.
“When you sign players you make mistakes,” he said.
“It’s not like buying a piece of furniture and you say ‘I put that here’ and that is it.
“They have families, they have to be comfortable and in football you can only play 11 players – not the 27 that we have.”
Benitez is not they type manager, along with his carefully selected band of trusted coaches, who leaves much to chance.
His preparation for every game, signing and session has planned purpose. This was correct of the three players, seen by many as flops, mentioned above.
Gamez was a player who had very recently tasted life at the top of La Liga with Atletico Madrid under Diego Simeone. Lazaar similarly had looked one of the brightest left-sided players in Serie A at Palermo. And Scotland international Hanley was tried and tested at this level, having led from the front with Blackburn.
But no matter how much work is done researching a player, both on and off the pitch, there is absolutely no guarantee of success, as Benitez knows too well.
Similarly when they arrive, settle, get fit and start playing there is no guarantee that they will be happy.
“People who are not involved cannot be happy all of the time,” explains Benitez.
“We have managed to keep the majority of them happy for a long, long time.
“Everyone has to accept they might not play but if we do well we will be successful together.”