Rafa Benitez is calm. For now.
He’s seen it all before.
But he’s also frustrated. And impatient.
And Benitez will only get more frustrated, and more impatient, if Newcastle United continue to miss out on targets.
He was diplomatic when he spoke about the club’s efforts in a “crazy market” earlier this week.
“It’s not easy for a lot of teams, because the market is a bit crazy,” said Benitez, who had attended the finals of the Foundation 1892 Cup at the club’s Academy.
It’s not easy for a lot of teams, because the market is a bit crazy. We have to try to do our best.Rafa Benitez
“We have to try to do our best. Obviously, the top sides have a lot of money.
“The other teams are spending some money, but we will see if we can do our job.”
Benitez is right. The market is crazy.
But clubs are getting crazy money from the Premier League’s latest TV deal.
And, sooner or later, Newcastle will have to pay the going rate in the transfer market.
Yes, many clubs have done even less business than United.
But Newcastle, having just come up from the Championship, have a greater need than most teams.
Benitez doesn’t just need one or two strategic acquisitions.
He needs six, seven or eight Premier League players.
And Premier League players, we know, don’t come cheap.
Stood in the Academy gym on Monday afternoon, Benitez was relaxed.
He had just presented trophies to the wining girls and boys teams.
Benitez had enjoyed the tournament. He had a smile on his face.
There are photographs on the wall of gym of the Academy players that went on to play first-team football for Newcastle.
Hopefully, many more players will follow in their footsteps.
Benitez, however, can’t wait. His needs are immediate.
United kick off their pre-season campaign against Heart of Midlothian on Friday night.
And games then come quick and fast.
Benitez likes new signings to have time to settle in his squad and get to know how he works.
He doesn’t want them playing catch-up.
Benitez was frustrated that proposed deals for Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham and free agent Willy Caballero.
They weren’t big deals.
Yet United couldn’t get them done.
Abraham joined Swansea City on loan, while Caballero signed for Chelsea.
And an £8.8million move for Florian Lejeune took weeks to complete. Given that the defender had a release clause at Eibar, it should have been more straightforward.
Owner Mike Ashley promised Benitez “every last penny” the club generated through promotion and player sales in May.
So why are Newcastle seemingly counting the pennies?