Former Newcastle United Chairman Freddy Shepherd has had his say on Rafa Benitez, Mike Ashley and an important summer for the club in an interview with Talksport yesterday.
Following this week’s announcement that Benitez will remain as Newcastle United manager, the former NUFC owner has spoke out, reacting to the news that the Magpies boss will be backed by Mike Ashley this summer:
“It’s great news,”
“The Geordies love it because they like him [Benitez].
“It’s good news all round that he [Ashley] is putting the money up front too – it’s great news for all the Geordies”
“The guy has got money, there’s no doubt about that.”
“Whether he wants to spend it on the club is entirely up to him.
“The club needs money and it certainly looks like he’ll give him it.”
Shepherd was then asked how Benitez compared to the great Sir Bobby Robson, suggesting what needs to now happen for the Spaniard to make a success of things at St. James’ Park:
“Rafa is the most popular manager up here since Sir Bobby Robson,”
“The supporters love him and they want the best for him.
“The supporters are going to stay cool, calm and collected. They’re going to let Rafa do his job.
“He’s got the money there, so let Rafa do his job and not put pressure on. He is going about things the right way.
“It’s always a case of money, it always it, but it’s not the only thing this time.
“It is more he wants to prove something with a big club like Newcastle – I think he can do it and good luck to him.”
Talksport host Jim White then asked the ex-NUFC chief how he would go about it if he was in Mike Ashley’s position:
“I’d buy another Alan Shearer if I could find him,”
“I think you need to spread the money, certainly at Newcastle.
“You don’t just go out and buy a [Paul] Pogba, it wouldn’t work.
“You need to spread and get some seasoned players who’ve seen it all and can do it.”
Finally, Shepherd was asked what sort of players Benitez should look to buy with the rumoured £75-£100m he will be handed to spend this summer:
“Up-front players is the most important thing, and a centre-half.
“They’ll certainly get rid of three or four players too and bring some others in.
“Some will definitely go.
“It [signing Defoe] wouldn’t be for me but they definitely need some older players who can see themselves through the Premier League season.
“These young guys are great but when you’re in the Premier League you need some proper, seasoned players who can handle it.”
Given Shepherd’s experience and insight at Newcastle United, it interesting to see the former Chairman offer his advice on what will be a huge summer for the club.