Rafa Benitez deserves huge credit for the work he’s done at Newcastle, doesn’t he?
Having gained promotion to the Premier League as Championship winners a year ago, the Magpies were relegation favourites at the start of last season after a particularly quiet summer of transfer business.
The big names signed ahead of the season were Christian Atsu, Jacob Murphy and Joselu, along with the January loan-signings of Kenedy and Martin Dubravka.
Luckily, a brilliant 3-0 win over Chelsea on the final day of the season ensured a top-half finish for the Magpies, but we can’t help but imagine what Rafa could do with this team if he was given a bit more money to play with.
So to give us a bit of an insight, we did exactly that by using Football Manager 2018.
Ahead of the season, we added £400million to Newcastle’s transfer budget using the games editor tool, and enabled a consistent turnover of funds available for the Spanish manager to sign virtually anyone he wants.
Here’s what happened.
As you can see, we’ve made Newcastle ‘rich’, with the Magpies starting the season with a pretty penny to spend.
So who does Benitez go for?
Rafa spent £266million over the course of the season, and some of the players he signed were very pleasing indeed.
The excellent Emil Forsberg was the most expensive of the lot, joining from Leipzig for £44.5m.
The Swedish winger has been linked with Arsenal in recent times and was one of Sweden’s best players at the World Cup – but in our simulation, he moves to the Magpies on January’s transfer deadline day and makes 14 appearances, scoring five goals and reaching a rating of 7.40.
Benitez spent another £40m+ on Arkadiusz Milik, the towering forward who’s captured the hearts and minds of Napoli fans despite his unfortunate anterior cruciate ligament injury back in September.
He’s joined up front by Barcelona benchee Paco Alcacer, who looks to be the club’s main man in attack throughout the season despite his bargain price of £11.5m, but he only notched four goals in the second-half of the season.
Southampton pair Ryan Bertrand and Cedric are both great signings, and go straight into the backline on either flank alongside young Croatian centre-back Duje Caleta-Car, signed from Salzburg for £24m.
As we’d probably expect, there’s a plenty of buys from Spanish clubs too, with Jonny, Pablo Piatti and Santi Mina highly-rated in La Liga.
In fact, the wholesale changes to the side mean that this Newcastle side looks very different to the one we’ve been used to.
It’s still not quite Shay Given, Fabricio Coloccini, Gary Speed and Alan Shearer, but it’s a decent start and would certainly bring about a return to European football in time.
But how did they get on at the end of the season?
Would you believe it, they finished in 11th-place despite spending a Man City-esque fortune on new signings.
That’s right, one place worse-off than they managed in real life.
- The new FIFA 18 World Cup cards have just dropped and we’re very excited
- We used Football Manager to see what would happen if Rafa Benitez signed up his old favourites at Newcastle this season
- The Ultimate Premier League 2017/18 Season QUIZ