Thursday 22 March 2018

Toon become most expensive flops ever

Newcastle United Manager Rafael Benitez. Photo: Richard Sellers/PA Wire
Newcastle United Manager Rafael Benitez. Photo: Richard Sellers/PA Wire

Luke Edwards

Newcastle United have become the most expensively assembled side to be relegated from the Premier League following Sunderland's victory over Everton

Newcastle have spent £80million on new players this season and are the second-highest net spenders in English football behind Manchester City.

No team have ever spent more in the transfer market in one season and failed to stay in the top flight, which is a damning indictment of Newcastle's flawed recruitment policy. Despite the heavy investment, Newcastle have rarely been out of the bottom three all season and went backwards under head coach Steve McClaren, who was belatedly sacked in March, despite winning just six league games.

Things have improved under replacement Rafael Benitez - the Magpies are on a five-game unbeaten run for the first time since November 2014 - but the Spaniard has not been able to haul them clear of the drop zone.

Newcastle's failure to beat Aston Villa last weekend cost them dearly and means they drop down to the Championship with one game left, much to the delight of rivals Sunderland. Having never been relegated from the Premier League before Mike Ashley became owner, this is the second time they have dropped to the Championship since he took control in 2007.

Attention will now shift to the future of Benitez who had initially insisted he would not remain as manager if he failed to keep Newcastle in the top flight. But the Spaniard's position has softened as a result of the adulation he has received on Tyneside and is now tempted to remain at the helm in the Championship.

He is due to hold talks with managing director Lee Charnley next week, although Newcastle will have to satisfy all of the his demands if they are going to keep him. If Benitez does stay, it would be a startling change for the Spaniard, who started this season aiming to win La Liga and the Champions League at Real Madrid. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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