Rafa Benitez is feeling increasing frustration at promoted Newcastle over the club’s lack of transfer activity.
Tensions are rising on Tyneside, with manager Benitez unhappy after missing out on a string of targets.
The role of owner Mike Ashley is once more under the spotlight and Toon fans are warning that their jubilant return to the Premier League could prove a false dawn unless signings are made — and quickly.
Newcastle missed out on Chelsea starlet Tammy Abraham on loan this week — the England Under-21 international is being farmed out to Swansea instead.
They have also failed to land free-agent former Manchester City keeper Willy Caballero and an £8.7million move for Eibar defender Florian Lejeune is stalling because of issues with meeting his buy-out clause.
Benitez and Ashley held a face-to-face meeting at the end of the Tynesiders’ promotion-winning season, in which the manager was assured that funds would be made available.
Since then, chief scout Graham Carr has left the club.
Now the role of managing director Lee Charnley is in focus, following the Magpies’ failure to land any of their targets.
Moreover, Benitez also wanted to reward a couple of his players for their efforts with longer contracts – and there has been little movement on that front either.
And Ashley is being warned that the supporters already know where to point the finger of blame – and it won’t be towards the manager.
Peter Mann, of the Toon Talk fanzine, said: “We’re coming to the end of June and Newcastle’s fans would have expected some movement in the transfer market by now.
“Instead, we’ve done nothing — the fans are still queuing up around the block to buy season-tickets — and that’s only because of Benitez and the promise of what lies ahead. We are behind the manager 150 per cent.
“However, there’s now an air of uncertainty around the place.
“We need to hit the ground running. But it looks as though the same players as last season will be turning up to pre-season.
“Personally, I feel that it is getting harder and harder for any club to establish themselves in the Premier League. Our current squad wouldn’t cope. No way.
“To me, it doesn’t make much sense. If Mike Ashley’s ultimate aim is to sell Newcastle United, he would be far better investing in the squad and moving on a stable Premier League club, rather than one which is fighting relegation.
“So, it’s understandable that the manager is becoming agitated — I don’t blame him. Plenty of us remember what kicked-off when Kevin Keegan left. It would be worse if anything happened to Benitez. He’s the first one since Sir Bobby Robson who has really got what this club, city and area is about.”
For his part, former Liverpool and Chelsea boss Benitez is unconcerned about losing Carr and is prepared to work around his departure.
But his patience is being sorely tested by the club’s failure to push any prospective signings over the line — with the latest nail in the coffin hammered down when the call came that Abraham had decided upon a switch to Wales instead of Tyneside.
It now remains for Ashley to calm those nerves by making a significant move in the market to allay the fears of Newcastle’s supporters and manager and show that the club mean business this season.