We are 8 short days away from the one thing as Newcastle fans we didn’t want to see when the season finished! The end of Rafa Benitez’s time at the club.
But a summer of confusion and mismanagement by the clubs ownership has seen questions over the Spaniards future at the club.
There was reports that owner Mike Ashley, and number one stooge Lee Charnley met Rafa in London shortly after the season ended to discuss extending his contract at the club. Although this meeting was never disputed, there was no communication from either side as to how the meeting went! Over a month later, we still don’t know how it went, and the mindset of each side.
Since then the talk on Tyneside is a mix of wanting Rafa to stay, and praying for the rumoured takeover by the Bin Zayed Group. But come midnight on June 30th it looks like Rafa will be a free agent, and if reports are to be believed the club don’t have anyone lined up, in what seems complete arrogance from ‘The Board’.
There has been talk that the offer on the table is a 1 year deal, keeping the boss on the same wages, and a transfer chest of £50 million, plus any money made from player sales (where have we heard that before?).
But for a world class manager who has always talked about the project at the club, and from what we have been told has turned down the advances of Roma and Celtic, and has also been linked with a return to Chelsea, all options Rafa has turned down, due to at the time feeling somewhat positive about staying in the North East.
However ‘leaks’ have circulated in the past week that Benítez has been offered a double your money deal from China, a move Rafa has previously turned down, in favour of guiding the club back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
All this, mixed in with how Ashley likes to do business, I now believe after a summer of mild optimism, that we won’t see Rafa in the home dugout again. His demands, from what I can tell, just simply haven’t been met!
He has always talked about building the club back up, by way of improving the training centre and the academy! I also believe that it has never been about the amount of transfer funds he has, but freedom to do the deals needed! Rafa has proven he can find quality on a budget (Schar and Dubravka anyone?) but made Rondon his number 1 target last summer, and the striker proved why, but the ‘club’ would only sanction a loan deal, leaving us going into the season with a Premier League quality number 9.
He has also requested that the club do their business quicker, to get the required players in at the beginning of pre-season, giving him and his staff enough time to work with any new incomings! But leaving Charnley to negotiate deals, with limits put in by Ashley, seems the worst idea in Football, and only seems to be able to cope with one deal at a time!
Unfortunately all this does not make for a decent work environment, and contrary to what some cricketers will say, I will not begrudge Rafa in anyway if he walks away without a new contract! I now sort of expect it, but for the powers to be, to be arrogant enough to just assume the will still have Rafa as an employee come July 1st, just shows how out of touch they really are, and to not even have a back-up just in case, shows how inept of an owner and ‘board’ we really have.
I hope I’m wrong, and Rafa stays! But I think it’s time to say:
Thank you for letting us hope again!