In the moments following last night’s 4-1 win, where Newcastle sealed their promotion back to the top flight, Rafa Benitez sent a subtle warning to Mike Ashley when asked about his future at the club in his post match interview.
Speaking after the game, Benitez began by praising the United fans:
“I am really pleased to be here, and really happy and proud for everything we have achieved.
“The fans have been amazing with me, their loyalty means everything. Having this city behind you means everything; they should have a top team.
“That is why I decided to stay (after relegation), and now I am even happier than before that I made this decision. I am really proud and really pleased.”
Rafa was then asked if he expected to still be in charge at St James’ Park next season. The NUFC boss smiled, but offered an uncommitted reply:
‘“You never know, this is football…we need to enjoy today and after we’ll see.”
Benitez continued, stressing the importance to now build on promotion and create a bright future for the club:
“Hopefully we can put in the foundations for something that will be a guarantee for the future.
“Now is the time to enjoy what we have done. But then I must make sure we do the right things. We have to prepare everything to be strong enough for the Premier League.”
It has been widely reported that preliminary transfer meetings have been very positive, with a renewed feeling of optimism that Rafa Benitez will get what he wants this summer – after feeling let down by the NUFC board in January.
For me, Benitez’s statement does not cast his future into sudden doubt, but instead serves as a perfect reminder to Mike Ashley that the Spaniard will require backing this summer and a subtle warning that Rafa won’t stick around if is demands are ignored again.