Critics of Newcastle United this season claim they’ve bought their way to the top of the Championship table.
But Rafa Benitez says that cash is not the key to success in football, citing Aston Villa and now managerless Norwich City as examples of how things can quickly turn sour after relegation.
It is true that the Magpies splashed out £50million-plus last summer, signing the likes of Dwight Gayle from Crystal Palace and Matt Ritchie from Bournemouth for a combined fee of around £22m.
But those on the outside looking in often forget to factor in the high-profile sales of Moussa Sissoko, Daryl Janmaat and Gini Wijnaldum, among others, which meant Benitez turned in a summer profit of £30m.
Either way, the former Liverpool and Real Madrid man doesn’t think money is the ‘be all and end all’. He says it about getting the balance right.
Big money signings do not always guarantee success, especially in the cut throat Championship.
“It can be hard – you see that with Norwich and Aston Villa,” Benitez said.
“It is not a question of money and that is it. You need to find the right balance between motivation, passion and commitment as well as have the right quality to win games and go up.”
Where relegated Norwich and Villa have struggled there have been more established second tier sides who have excelled.
David Wagner at Huddersfield has probably been the surprise package, and his side look well placed to challenge the top two in final few weeks of the campaign.
While, Brighton finally look poised to make it to the Premier League promised land under Chris Hughton having only to be pipped at the post by Middlesbrough on goal difference last season.
Benitez believes it was an easier job for the likes of Hughton to ready their team for a promotion fight than the hand he was dealt at United.
“People think that it is just signing players but it is more than that,” explains Rafa.
“When you have to change something you also have to change the mood around.
“The teams at the top of the Championship now, they needed two or three players in to their squads, and their players are settled. They know the division.
“When you are relegated and you have to change half of the squad maybe the best players will leave because you have to sell them. Then some will not be good enough. You find you may have to bring in 10 to 15 players, or half a squad.
“The obvious thing was to change players. We needed fresh blood to give motivation to everyone.
“It’s harder to change when you’re relegated.”
Referring back to the performance of his summer signings, Rafa says he has been delighted with their impact.
But he says some of that has been down to the way the old guard at NUFC have stepped up to the plate to help.
“We are really pleased with the new players,” he said.