Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

A Season That Started with a Revolution Has Now Reached Its Halfway Point Clouded in Uncertainty; ANALYSIS

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

A Season That Started with a Revolution Has Now Reached Its Halfway Point Clouded in Uncertainty; ANALYSIS

Article excerpt

Byline: MARK DOUGLAS NUFC Writer @msidouglas

FIRST, tick off the positives. Newcastle United are still handily placed to win promotion with something to spare.

The cavalry - in the form of Mo Diame, Christian Atsu and Dwight Gayle - will return in time for the crunch fixtures to come in a season which is about just one thing: promotion.

Jonjo Shelvey's return has emphasised just how superior he is to any other midfielder Ashley in the Championship and yet: Newcastle have ended the January transfer window adding just one thing - uncertainty.

Uncertainty over Mike Ashley's role after his unwanted and unwelcome return to prominence. Uncertainty, too, over where it leaves a manager who has changed Newcastle United for the better.

After a summer where Ashley instructed 'What Rafa wants, Rafa gets' he has returned to pose some unexpected questions about transfer policy, recruitment and spending. Not to Rafa Benitez directly but to others.

Quite what that achieves is unclear. Internal politics, cleared by a clear message of faith in Benitez in the close season, are back with a vengeance at United.

What Benitez does about it in the long-term is unclear. He is not for walking out but neither will he be prepared to put up with doing the job the way Alan Pardew had to.

At some point, this will have to be ironed out - and that has undoubtedly changed the agenda for the second half of the season.

It all feels so unnecessary. Benitez's revolution at United is only in its early stages and while spending was significant in the summer money was recouped sensibly. …

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