By 90Min
July 25, 2018

Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez has made no secrets of his frustration once again in the transfer window, and is utilising his pre-season lineups to send a message to owner Mike Ashley.

In both of the Magpies' pre-season games so far, Benitez has chosen to play a number of youth prospects - some even out of position - to highlight the lack of depth the club currently has.

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Both Cal Roberts and Victor Fernandez have been deployed as makeshift full backs, despite being natural wingers, in both games against St. Patrick's Athletic and Hull City. Centre back Josef Yarney and midfielder Sean Longstaff have also featured in the games.

Normally, seeing youth integrated into the first team is a positive thing. However, in the Tyneside club's case, it just sets off even more alarm bells.

The manager was given clear instructions that he would have to sell to buy this summer.

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The sell part, at least, is starting to gain some traction. Chancel Mbemba recently departed to FC Porto, whilst Mikel Merino was sold to Real Sociedad. Those transfers have served to generate some supposedly much-needed transfer funds.

Yet, that money seems not to be coming back into the hands of Benitez, and therefore isn't available to make the necessary transfer moves to replace and improve upon the outgoings.

At the current rate, Benitez is watching an exodus of sorts from his first team. He's losing all the players he would have for cover throughout the season, while being unable to replace them.

The Spaniard is trying to bring attention to the issue as much as he can, but the board don't seem interested.

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After the friendly with Hull, Benitez made of point of directing another less-than-subtle challenge to Ashley over the lack of funds, calling his current squad not good enough for 'for what we want to do.'

He was also asked whether he would get the money recouped from Mbemba's transfer to spend, to which his simple response was: “That is a question for Lee Charnley".

It's true as well. Benitez has no control over, and no clue, whether he will get funds to spend. As far as the board seem concerned, there is a bare bones first team there, and they simply expect Benitez to perform another miracle, as he did last season.

It's a dangerous and unhelpful attitude, and it's one that has led Benitez to the extreme action he is being forced to take. Nobody, himself included, would want to be fielding a weaker team than they have to, but he has to bring attention to the issue somehow.

He's got to make people, and hopefully in turn Ashley, aware of the glaring lack of depth to his side.

He's also got to ensure that these youth players - the five or six of them at a good enough standard below the first team - have enough game time too, because there is the very real possibility that these are the likely injury backups that Newcastle will have to play with for at least half of the Premier League season (and January is unlikely to yield other incomings).

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Benitez has chosen to make a powerful statement in pre-season, but one that may ultimately fall on deaf ears.

All in all, it's a worrying situation for Newcastle to find themselves in. Toon fans are forced to sit and watch their club's ownership once again taunt and kick their own manager - a manager who is arguably too good for the club, and who will not be around forever.

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