Goals were a major problem for Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle last season and continue to be this time around.
The hugely popular Spaniard has done an awful lot right for the Magpies, but his summer business in terms of strikers requires some scrutiny.
Benitez sold Aleksandar Mitrovic to newly-promoted Fulham during the summer; presumably in the knowledge Mike Ashley would not grant him the funds to reinvest.
The Serbian hitman is now the joint top scorer in the Premier League; his five goals so far are more than Newcastle’s entire team has managed.
Dodgy summer business
Benitez can try to explain the decision away by highlighting the contrast in styles between Newcastle and Fulham.
Yet, the fact remains that Newcastle need goals but sold a striker whom nobody has yet scored more Premier League goals than this season. That doesn’t look good business.
Further, the swap deal between Dwight Gayle and Salomon Rondon is baffling. Gayle is sometimes profligate but is a lively, pacey hitman who has an eye for goal.
Rondon is a target man, adept at bringing team-mates into play but not clinical in front of goal. Benitez has allowed two goalscorers to leave a club that is desperate for greater firepower.
As well as Rondon, Benitez brought in Yoshinori Muto this summer to bolster his attack. Yet, the Japanese hitman is yet to start a Premier League game; which doesn’t make too much sense given Newcastle’s lack of firepower and his £9.5m pricetag.
So why has he had to wait for his full top flight bow? Benitez has told the Newcastle Chronicle: “What I can see every training session is commitment, passion, workrate.
“But still you can see he was fouled a couple of times [against Palace] and the referee didn’t give a foul, so he was complaining and waiting.
“So, for a new player, always you have to give him some time, and he has to be as positive as he is in every training session.”