Not a great deal to report on the Rafa front today though its instructive to consider that since last week, Brighton have sacked a manager, approached Swansea about their manager, held talks, paid compensation and have appointed him as their new manager. Things work differently at Mike Ashley’s Newcastle United. When I say work differently, I mean don’t work at all. Every day this drags on, the more worried we should become. Sorry, I do apologise … Lee Charnley is all over this. What could possibly go wrong?

CENTRE-FORWARD 

Anyway, eyes down for a full house. Despite not really having a manager at the moment, given Senor Benitez will come to the end of his deal on the 30/Jun/19, that doesn’t stop United being linked with players. The Mirror has us being connected to Bruge’s Brazilian striker Wesley Braes. Simon Bird reports that United have had the player watched. But so have West Ham and Lazio so you know what comes next. Click here to get at Simon’s report.

You will have read the report on NUFC.COM regarding West Brom closing down any talk about signing Dwight Gayle on a permanent deal because of his wages so that would appear to shut down any aspirations we might have had to do a straight swap for Rondon. Jacob Murphy seems to have impressed as many people at the Hawthorns as he has at SJP (namely, not many) so we will likely be getting the lad back. Gayle’s goals will likely be in demand but it will be a massive backward step if he is running around for us next season and that is meant as no disrespect to a lad who was pivotal to us getting back into the PL from our Championship campaign of a couple of years ago. He’s not a PL player unfortunately. Rondon is now reported to be wanted by West Ham as well as Wolves and Everton. I wonder if United are interested? – piece here in The Star

FLICK TO KICK 

Of course for the young’uns reading this devoted to FIFA and Playstations and all of that paraphernalia, Subbuteo means nothing. For those of a certain vintage, it means a lot. For those who want a bit of Flick To Kick nostalgia may we recommend this excellent piece in yesterday’s Guardianflick here to get at Henry Macdonald’s superb bit of writing. Yes, there is something in my eye.

BEST OF ENEMIES 

You’ll be aware the Mackems are giddy at the prospect of another trip to Wembley this coming weekend. They have been boasting about their two trips in a season to play in competitions I desperately hope Newcastle United never ever has the indignity of having to compete in. For those unaware, our nearest and not so dearest have a very lively message-board which they cling to like it was 2002 and use to provide an insight into the Wearside psyche. To suggest it is an FTM Echo-chamber for the swivel eyed, tin-foil hat wearing fraternity that live crouched around the settlement just south of Shields puts it mildly. We couldn’t recommend it more as a means to measure the unadulterated chip-on-the-shoulder bitterness that has been a permanent feature in the Mackem character for as long as they have been grinding their teeth about Royal Charters up to the Geordie Nation. Their unshared bile-boiling view on the talents and otherwise of Rafa Benitez really need to be read to be believed. We commend it to you – click here

And that’s your lot for today, only to say congratulations to the United U-23s who won the Soccer Sevens Tournament in Hong Kong. The full details as you’ve probbaly already seen are on NUFC.COM who do this coverage better than anyone else – click here

Thanks for reading.