Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Questions Galore.And Far Fewer Answers; All Change This Season - but Some Things Stay Same

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Questions Galore.And Far Fewer Answers; All Change This Season - but Some Things Stay Same

Article excerpt

Byline: JOHNGIBSON

WHAT a difference a single season can make.

For example, who would have thought as August dawned ace playmaker Jonjo Shelvey would not be able to get a game with all talk being about him leaving while Isaac Hayden would be considered indispensable? Who would have foreseen Sean Longstaff bursting into the side and being hailed a budding superstar, whereas eagerly signed-up-again Kenedy quickly disappeared down a black hole of indifference? Who would have anticipated Fabian Schar becoming glorified after being totally ignored for all but one of the Toon's first 10 Premier League games while Matt Ritchie emerged as a first-choice left-back? Or United spending a club record PS21m but refusing to pay PS16m for a centre-forward who arrived injured, was seen as much as Howard Hughes and compared to Islam Slimani but who eventually emerged as a muchheralded saviour? This is Newcastle United, of course. The team which lost its first five home games but went on to beat awesome champions Manchester City. Which did the double over Burnley but lost both games against West Ham with an aggregate of five goals conceded and none scored. Crazy contradictions.

So what now? What for Rafa Benitez? For Salomon Rondon? For Shelvey, Hayden, Ritchie and Mo Diame? What exactly will Mike Ashley do about backing Benitez unreservedly? About selling a club he has supposedly wanted to unload for many along day? Questions, questions and more questions.

Much depends on Ashley of course. Then on Benitez.

Ashley has been losing money hand over fist attempting to put his footprint on the nation's high street with about as much success as he has had with a football club he has seen relegated twice.

Pray let there be another complete switch in Newcastle fortunes here with the owner unexpectedly taking to his toes.

This is an institution every professional admits has the potential to be a PL heavyweight, yet either because he cannot or will not, Ashley stays and watches it lurch from crisis to crisis - its high point being when a ninemonth-long relegation fight proves successful. …

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