Ruthless Rafa Benitez


The departure of Tim Krul to Brighton this week has left Massadio Haidara as our longest serving player, we look through the players Rafa Benitez has gotten rid of and how long they spent at the club, showing how ruthless he can be despite the loyalty of the players.

Summer 2016

Gabriel Obertan - The former Man Utd winger was disappointing in black and white and it was no surprise to see him released before the end of his contract In May 2016. He joined in August 2011 but only made seventy-seven appearances due to numerous injuries and being unfancied by Rafa.

Sylvain Marveaux - Marveaux joined in the same summer as Obertan but despite looking decent in 2012-13 season, the Frenchman's time on Tyneside was plagued by injuries and he was loaned out to Guingamp for the 2014-15 season before being relegated to the reserves under Steve McClaren, although he was named on the bench against Man Utd in January 2016. Marveaux was never going to come back into the first side with his contract due to expire at the end of the season and he was released on the same day as Obertan.

Steven Taylor - The last surviving member of Sir Bobby Robson's side left the club probably a few years too late. He made his debut as an eighteen year old against Real Mallorca in the UEFA Cup in March 2004, he would go on to 268 games for us but his defending in the 2015-16 season and the fact his contract was due to expire that summer meant he was out the door with his final appearance coming against Tottenham on the final day of the season.

Andros Townsend - Rafa wouldn't have wanted to lose Townsend following relegation but he moved to Palace for £13m and was replaced by Matt Ritchie, despite his lack of loyalty, I'd take him back. We were powerless to keep him but it looks like a poor decision from the former Spurs man.

Fabricio Coloccini - Coloccini was named club captain in 2011 following the departure of Kevin Nolan and was named in the 2011-12 PFA Team of The Year as we finished fifth in the league. But his final two seasons were disappointing and due to injury, he never played for us under Rafa Benitez and after eight years on Tyneside and a contract extension in August 2015, the Argentine was released in July 2016.

Papiss Cisse - Despite starting six out of the ten games under Rafa at the end of the 2015-16 season, Cisse was sold onto Chinese club Shandong Luneng at the end of the season following the purchase of Dwight Gayle after he only scored 31 goals in 117 games after his amazing first half a season in 2012. This came despite visiting a fan who wrote a letter to welcome him to Newcastle in April 2012, his interactions with young brain tumour battler Cory Davison and inviting fans to his house for a barbecue in August 2013.

Georginio Wijnaldum - Despite his disappointing second half of his only season on Tyneside, Rafa was keen to keep Wijnaldum and played the Dutchman in our first two pre season friendlies against Bohemian against Doncaster before his move to Liverpool but Wijnaldum failed to score between 16 January and our relegation in 2016 and his performance against Spurs on the final day four days after relegation was confirmed was pretty much a shop window display, who clearly wouldn't have fancied Burton or Rotherham away last season, in fact he's yet to score an away goal for either us or Liverpool.

Daryl Janmaat - Despite scoring on the final day of the 2015-16 season and featuring in our first two games of the 2016-17 season, Janmaat was demoted to the bench against Reading and Bristol City before completing a move to Watford with DeAndre Yedlin arriving from Spurs as his replacement. Janmaat had poor games in Rafa's first two games in charge against Leicester and Sunderland before bottling it big time in a 3-1 loss at Southampton with Vurnon Anita doing a lot better in the right back role. Janmaat could've revived his career as a winger but Rafa was happy to take the £7.5m from Watford.

Gael Bigirimana - Bigirimana joined from Coventry in July 2012 after earning the Championship's Apprentice of the Year award. But he wasn't fancied by McClaren, who sent him on loan back to the Sky Blues in November 2015. His lack of appearances at Newcastle meant the Burundi born midfielder cancelled his contract with us to return to the Ricoh Arena on a permanent transfer in August 2016.

Moussa Sissoko - Having shown what he can do during his three and a half years on Tyneside before putting in a lack of effort in a lot of games, Sissoko said numerous times he wanted a move out of Newcastle and an impressive Euro 2016 following his shop window display against Spurs saw him linked to Juventus, Inter Milan and even Real Madrid but the Frenchman was set for a move to Everton before the Lilywhites matched their £30m and he went to White Hart Lane instead of Goodison Park. Unsurprisingly, he's flopped in North London. He'd clearly been dying for a move out of Newcastle since December 2014 judging by his performances on the pitch so despite a goal against Swansea and an assist against Man City along with his shop window display against Spurs under Rafa, he was probably happy to see him go and stated that the club would no longer be a stepping stone for players like Sissoko, who came to perform when they wanted just to get moves to bigger clubs quicker.

Cheick Tiote - Tiote joined the club in August 2010 and is best remembered for his stunning equaliser against Arsenal in February 2011 and playing a key role in our fifth place finish alongside Yohan Cabaye in 2012. He recaptured his form under Rafa Benitez at the end of the 2015-16 season but was transfer listed in the summer, didn't play in pre season and rarely featured in the 2016-17 season despite failing a medical with Galatasaray. He made just three appearances before his move to Beijing Enterprises in February 2017, like Cisse and other familiar faces who've moved to China, the Ivorian went over for a pay day before retiring but unfortunately, he passed away in June 2017 and Rafa called him "a true professional" following his shock death.

Kevin Mbabu - Despite pocketing Pedro on his first Magpies start in September 2015, Mbabu was clearly unfancied by Rafa and was loaned out to Young Boys for the 2016-17 before joining them permanently in June 2017 having never featured under Rafa, even in pre season 2016

Florian Thauvin - Thauvin was on loan at Marseille when Rafa arrived and despite scoring against Bohemian in pre season when he returned, Benitez decided that like Remy Cabella, he was too soft for the English game and give him another loan at the Stade Veledrome and he played enough games to make his return to the French side permanent within four months.

Haris Vuckic - Vuckic joined in 2009 and had bags of talent but injuries ruined the Slovenian's hopes of succeeding at St James' Park having been sent out on loan to Bradford in August 2016 and unsurprisingly, Rafa didn't give Vuckic a new contract meaning he joined Twente on a free in June 2017, having started a trial with the Dutch outfit in March 2017, by which point it clear he wasn't in Rafa's plans.

Vurnon Anita - Anita did well at right back once Rafa moved him to right back to cover for the injured Daryl Janmaat and the Dutchman was part of the side that won promotion from the Championship. Despite giving 100% for us, Rafa didn't fancy him for the Premier League and after five years on Tyneside, he was released and is unsurprisingly doing well with Leeds.

Sammy Ameobi - Having made his first team debut in May 2011 after graduating from the academy, local lad Sammy Ameobi struggled for a lot of his time on Tyneside and during a loan spell at Cardiff in 2015-16. Rafa loaned him to Bolton in League One before recalling the winger in January, who would make four appearances off the bench before being unsurprisingly released in June 2017, making this season the first without an Ameobi in the first team since 1999-00.

Yoan Gouffran - Gouffran was left out of Rafa's squads during his ten games in charge at the end of the 2015-16 season and was expected to leave following relegation but he played in pre season and started to find his feet in the Championship was offered a contract extension at the end of the season but he turned it down to join Goztepe, meaning Massadio Haidara is the only French player bought by Graham Carr still at Newcastle.

Daryl Murphy - Murphy was hoping to get a crack at the Premier League after six goals in seventeen appearances in 2016-17 but after being told that Rafa had transfer listed him after a year on Tyneside, he praised the Spaniard. With the Irishman being the wrong side of thirty and given a short contract when he signed in August 2016, it was clear that he was only there for the Championship campaign although maybe he could've scored goals in the Premier League as well.

Emmanuel Riviere - Unlike Steve McClaren, who started Riviere in a must win game against Bournemouth, Rafa had the common sense to realise he wasn't good enough and that game against the Cherries proved to be his last game in a black and white shirt as he was loaned out to Osasuna after not even getting a chance in pre season. Further attempts to offload the Frenchman for good proved successful this summer as he joined Metz.

Siem De Jong - De Jong made some appearances under Rafa in the 2015-16 season before getting loaned out to PSV in August 2016. His injury record and lack of pace (hence why he was behind Wijnaldum, Sissoko and Perez in the pecking order) were probably the reasons why Rafa didn't fancy him despite looking good in pre season and Ajax didn't have to pay much to re-sign the Dutchman in August 2017. Without injuries, De Jong would've probably been mainly remembered for him time with us.

Grant Hanley - Like Daryl Murphy, Grant Hanley was clearly only brought in for the Championship and despite some decent games for us, he was transfer listed at the end of the season and was snapped up by Norwich, having only featured once in pre season.

Tim Krul - Krul was our longest serving player before his move to Brighton. Rafa loaned him out to Ajax to help him get back to full fitness following his injury on international duty in October 2015 but the loan deal was cut short after only six appearance for Ajax's reserve side and he was given another loan, this time at AZ Alkmaar. Despite doing well there, Krul was behind twenty year old Freddie Woodman in the pecking order and with three weeks after joining former manager Chris Hughton's Brighton on loan, he was released from his contract to make the move permanent with Rafa preferring three goalkeepers over the twenty-nine year old.

During his time on Tyneside, Rafa has had to sell players like Georginio Wijnaldum to improve our team chemistry rather than have individuals using us as a stepping stone and being more bothered about their futures than us, players who aren't Premier League quality with two brought in just for the Championship whilst Emmanuel Riviere and Florian Thauvin hardly got a look in under Rafa before returning to France, having been inherited by Rafa with Vurnon Anita also being inherited by Rafa and kept on to do a job in the Championship following relegation before being shown the door after promotion whilst dead wood like Fabricio Coloccini was moved on in the summer of 2016 to make way for better centre-backs like Ciaran Clark. He has shown his ruthlessness by getting rid of eleven of our longest serving players. In June 2017, he told Achraf Lazaar, Massadio Haidara, Tim Krul, Emmanuel Riviere, Henri Saivet, Jack Colback, Daryl Murphy and Grant Hanley their time was up whilst he sent unwanted players to train with the reserves during the summer.


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