Ashley and Rafa: Too much talk, not enough action

Another week and more rumours of crunch talks between Chairman Mike Ashley and Manager Rafa Benitez. This time it has been reported that Ashley is preparing a new contract for the popular Spaniard and has even offered to discuss it over a meal between the pair. What can we read into these latest reports as Newcastle fans?

Is this genuine?

10 years of Ashley’s ownership has taught Newcastle fans to be careful on a few fronts; with what the press reporting being actually accurate and also Ashley making a sound football decision.

Ashley has tried to control the press in recent seasons, even restricting the Chronicle at one stage and then also having designated ‘preferred media partners.’ These media partners have then since reported a raft of inaccurate ‘news’ about Newcastle United, much like the national press as a whole. For this reason alone, it is difficult to give much credence to these stories; especially as the same outlets claimed Rafa had walked in August, or that we had a £150m war chest this summer.

Why now?

There always seems to be an ulterior motive with Ashley and the timing of this certainly feels odd. Tensions appeared to be at all time high between the pair after our disappointing transfer window and a pitiful £11m net spend. So, for talks now to take place either mean that Ashley is trying to rebuild the trust with his Manager or more likely, there is something in it for him.

A logical explanation could be the rumours that Ashley is trying to sell the club being true. Keeping Rafa would be the cheapest way of stabilising the club and confirming or improving its re-sale value. Sure, Benitez is one of the highest paid managers in football even at NUFC, but his estimated £6m a year salary is far less than purchasing a new striker in today’s market for example. After all, players or managers are merely viewed as assets on the balance sheet in modern football.



Having Benitez agree a deal to keep him at the club beyond the end of next season would be a boost, but you can’t help but feel Ashley’s instigated this first and foremost to make Newcastle a more attractive proposition to potential buyers.

It could be seen as a win win if Benitez commits and Ashley’s in a greater position to sell, but I question just why Ashley has waited this long to make contact with Benitez after months of silence during a long and frustrating summer for the Spaniard.

Benitez would have every right to think ‘too little too late’ ahead of Ashley’s apparent request for talks.

Could a takeover be in the pipeline?

Takeover rumours won’t go away. The asking price has been dropped from £400m to £380m according to The Times, suggesting Ashley is seriously looking to cash out. Links to Chinese investment have been mooted, but have died down since initial talks at the start of the summer, however our new Chinese sponsor may add weight to this.

Before this summer, I was of the belief that maybe we are in the better the devil we know camp with Ashley in charge, if we still had Rafa. But such a lack of investment is stopping the club from matching Rafa’s and the fans ambitions. If we can tie him down to a new deal and a takeover happens, it could be exciting times for Newcastle fans.

Will Rafa stay for the long term?

As always, this is more hope than expectation; which has been the situation since Rafa surprisingly arrived at the club. However, if you remove emotions and press speculation, the facts are that he took over when we were in dire trouble, stayed when we went down and has stayed despite no investment this summer. He clearly enjoys being at Newcastle and although he will have his gripes, he sees his future here – for now!

Either way the constant press reports are quite tiresome. We know Rafa wants more ambition from Ashley and as always, he seems to have to make a mistake before he does anything about it.

Rafa has big plans for the club, but in the past two windows has been given little backing in the market. He may be biting his tongue for now and getting on with the job in hand to the best of his ability, but I can’t help but fear his position could become untenable if Ashley stays and continues to show an unwillingness to match his ambition for the club.

(Fancy writing for us? Send any articles/ideas over to us at [email protected] & we’ll get back to you!)

About Simon Riddlesden

Lifelong Newcastle United fan and East Stand season ticket holder. Observations from a supporter who has followed NUFC during Champions League participation and through relegation, taking me from Milan to Scunthorpe.

47 thoughts on “Ashley and Rafa: Too much talk, not enough action

  1. i wouldnt trust Jabba to the end of the street,Rafa is no ones fool,he has certain things written into his last contract that havent been forth coming up to now,thats reading between the lines like

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  2. Jabba wants to sell. I’ve been saying that for months. The club has clearly been prepared for it. Whether he gets his price is another thing but I honestly believe we now have a willing seller which we didn’t previously.

    As for the Rafa new contract, it’s rubbish. It’s from Harold Bishop, Jabba’s PR “guru” and it’s as clear as day. Even more embarrassingly, everyone can see through it…

    However, mark my words, this is the beginning of the end of the Jabba era. He’s just panicking that Rafa might jump ship and then he’s in the shit!

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  3. georgio:
    More fake news I’m afraid.Ashley could talk to Rafa any time he wants and without alerting the press about it.

    What is with this fake news narrative georgio? That is propaganda put out by Trump, Murdoch and his lackeys like Hannity on Fox News. They say stuff is fake so they do not have to answer for themselves.

    Trump calls the Washington Post fake. You know, the media site owned by that famous anti-capitalist Jeff Bezos, second richest man in the world and former Investment Banker. Previously owned by Katherine Graham, tutored in business by Warren Buffet, the world’s richest man.

    But when they tell the truth it is fake according to Trump.

    Where did you get this FAKE NEWS narrative from? I have seen you say it a few times now.

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  4. I am not saying Ashley isn’t saying sh!t as usual. What I am saying is that Trump and Fox News have put this phrase “fake news” into the public lexicon when it is clearly their agenda and their propaganda to say everything they disagree with is fake. Using their term in regard to other things is accepting their propaganda.

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  5. Stuart79:
    Jabba wants to sell. I’ve been saying that for months. The club has clearly been prepared for it. Whether he gets his price is another thing but I honestly believe we now have a willing seller which we didn’t previously.

    As for the Rafa new contract, it’s rubbish. It’s from Harold Bishop, Jabba’s PR “guru” and it’s as clear as day. Even more embarrassingly, everyone can see through it…

    However, mark my words, this is the beginning of the end of the Jabba era. He’s just panicking that Rafa might jump ship and then he’s in the shit!

    agree 100% stu with your comment,and its not “fake news”

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  6. Ice: This “fake News” meme is something that Murdoch and Trump have put out there as propaganda. I am not saying that georgio is wrong about Ashley. I am objecting to the use of the term “fake news” because that is a deliberate strategy of right wing propaganda merchants over here to discredit journalists and limit free speech. Using that term FAKE NEWS just helps them in their attempts spread their lies and limit free speech.

    Have you read 1984? Murdoch has. He has been using the same propaganda tactics since he bought The Sun in 1969.

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  7. When you start using phrases like “fake news” it is like George Orwell never even coined the phrase “newspeak” and wrote a book about how we should all beware of propaganda and manipulation. Even to the extent of putting phrases into the language – NEWSPEAK. FAKE NEWS.

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  8. This bashing of the media in the US has been a bugbear of mine for a while. You have total fascists like Hannity and Rush Limbaugh calling out the New York Times and NBC for fake news. At least there is an alternative voice here – for now.

    What does the UK have? More Murdock with The Sun, The Times and Sky. The BBC bunch of public school boys. The Daily Mail – the housewives choice, if housewives now want to look at WAGS’ cleavage and Kardashian arse pictures! Torygraph. Independent, with its 11 readers?

    Fake News. The UK has had mostly fake news for years. You voted for Brexit FFS.

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  9. Yes Eric, no escaping it was /is you.

    Jabba is worried Rafa will be away if the jan window is another dud so is trying to tie him down now imo. It will kill any deal to buy the Toon if he walks and at the very least he wants some decent compo for him and he’ll likely insist the compo is raised from the reported £6m. He will be aware he has royally pissed him off and this latest news tells me we are in for another lean window.
    If I were Rafa I would say I’ll discuss an extension after the jan window !

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  10. Hmmm !
    False News ?
    Newspeak ?
    The Times, Wall St. Journal and most tabloids are the voice’s of both the Tories and US Republican party and their policies, nowt new here.
    So are the majority of TV News programs, certainly in the US.
    If you are looking for some sort of reasonably approach Try the Guardian or NY Times, as for TV The Beeb or Democracy Now , may suit you.
    As for our dear owner, lets hope we end up with a replacement , being we should all understand he is now tired of his adventure into the sports world and no longer has any ambition for the club, apart from earning him a few bucks, but yes as noted by a few, the club is stripped down to the minimum
    amount of assets and ready for a sale, though not at the present asking price.

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  11. Well its that time again. Have we had the tipster’s latest tips yet?

    I am going with 2-2 as you can never figure out Liverpool and maybe one of our strikers will score?

    But, before I have even look I can predict that all of Lawro, Paul Merson’s Giant Balloon Head and Michael Owen will predict a Liverpool win.

    Merse will probably say Lacazette will get a couple even though we are not playing them.

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  12. icedog:
    B Munich sack theirmanager will they come for Rafa???

    Are they mad? As good as Robben and Ribery have been they needed to get some younger players in.

    Pards is available and Simon Grayson should be soon. Fat Sam always said if his name was Alardici he could manage one of the big teams. Mr. Roy will be available after the NUFC game.

    Ugly John perhaps?

    And Schteve is always an option.

    Iain Dowie? Is Joe Kinear still alive?

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  13. Guy Gadbois:
    Well its that time again. Have we had the tipster’s latest tips yet?

    I am going with 2-2 as you can never figure out Liverpool and maybe one of our strikers will score?

    But, before I have even look I can predict that all of Lawro, Paul Merson’s Giant Balloon Head and Michael Owen will predict a Liverpool win.

    Merse will probably say Lacazette will get a couple even though we are not playing them.

    Cheers Olly on the main site. You didn’t give the Lawro prediction. As if I didn’t know already what it would be 🙂

    Thommo says it will be Liverpool by a nose.

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  14. So what do you all think about the game on Sunday then:

    Thommo: Liverpool by a nose. As above.

    Collymore: 6-nil. A brace for Fowler.

    Michael Owen – er, is there a game on? Am I actually commentating on it? Was just looking at Horse Fancier’s Digest and did you not see the “do not disturb” sign on the door, right? I will get back to you. OK same as what Colly said.

    Steve Macmananamanan – does this perm make me look like a puff?

    Lawro – erm… Liverpool. Standard Chartered. What was the question again? Liverpool.

    Sourness – in my day Mereno would never have been allowed to step on a pitch again after backing off by 4 centemetres from Mooy. Disgraceful.

    Carra – usually I make a lot of sense but this high pitched squealing pig with laryngitis scouse accent means nobody listens to me. So 18-nil to the Pool.

    Stevie G: My accent and voice are even worse than Carra’s. 19 nil to the Puul.

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  15. And Merse. As a neutral, what do you think? And you do know Lacazette is not playing don’t you?

    Merse – 12-nil Liverpool, nailed on cert. Lacazette hattrick.

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  16. And of other Liverpool pundits currently being employed on TV? What do you have to say? Pretty much the same a Carra and Stevie G except I think we will set a new record for scoring this weekend Guy Gadbois. 20-0 is the consensus. Signed:

    Ronnie Whelan
    Jamie Redknapp
    Paul Walsh
    Jim Beglin
    Stevie Nicol
    Nigel Spackman

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  17. Well the toon 2017/2018 team players photo is out even the few players that are for transfer are on it,the one and only player not on is guess who? wearside jack,poor lonesome drop out

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  18. The accounts from the club is out re-transfer funds to spend 80 mil but will Rafa get it all,it’s not to bad if you also add what we might get maybe 10/12 mil for Gayle

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  19. Guy Gadbois:
    What did he do to Rafa to piss him off so much? Do you have the scoop Ice?

    A player was quite badly injured while working on a system for next game so Rafa ask Colback to come on and take his place until they finished,the doe-heed refused to fill in so Rafa banned him to train with the kids “permanently ”

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  20. Unless it’s a Rafa tactical masterclass I can’t see us winning on Sunday. Draw maybe but I just don’t think we will create as many chances as we need to score against Liverpool and they’re very good going forward.

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  21. I know this is an NUFC site but can I bring up Everton again. I do so because the national TV and Newspaper pundits to a man were raving about their transfer business. And, all of them except Shearer and maybe Lineker are biased against NUFC. I still have no idea why, but it is true.

    So Everton Draw against a Cyprus pub team with England’s foremost slapper chaser in the team. I quote Rio Ferdinand from very recently “Wayne still has a lot to offer Everton and England”.

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  22. We’re going to need Elliot to play well on Sunday. Here are a few stats about Liverpool.

    In their last 7 games they have had 126 shots but have scored only 7. That is a conversion rate of 5.5%.

    They have also let the opposition score with 24% of their shots which is about the rate Messi scores at. Hit the bloody target Joselu and you will probably score!

    Also, they are really crap from set pieces.

    So the game plan is, don’t let Coutinho cut in onto his right foot, limit them to shots outside the box, have Elliot play a blinder, and get a lot of corners where Clark and Lascelles can bully them.

    I will bet Shamrock a half of shandy it doesn’t finish 0-0.

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  23. Guy Gadbois:
    Oh God, there is another International break after Sunday.

    Yep, frustrating as hell mate, stop start, stop start, how you meant to get momentum going. 👿 Oh and it gives Mr Roy time to work on Palace failings before meeting us 🙄 Obviously we have to deal with Saints before then but you get my drift.

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  24. Maybe we can send Mr Roy for a boat trip up the tyne and he gets lost . Bit of un- forecasted fog on the tyne should do it 😉

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  25. Kimtoon: Man U absolutely battered Moscow, then Palace have Chelsea before us. I think we will get something, a point, out of the next 2 games. So I hope it will not be all doom and gloom. Palace on the other hand will have lost 8 in a row – a feat worthy of Pards at his worst.

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  26. KIMTOON:
    Maybe we can send Mr Roy for a boat trip up the tyne and he gets lost . Bit of un- forecasted fog on the tyne should do it

    Give him another year or 2 and he will get lost on his own going to the shops. I shouldn’t really make fun of age related disability but I will make an exception for Mr. Roy. He almost got lost on the way to the press conference after the Iceland debacle, but someone took his arm showed him the way. Only for him to say: who am I and why am I here?

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  27. Eric – since you mentioned it that was the first and only time I used the term fake news. It’s almost like I sensed a fake yank coming. 🙂

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  28. georgio:
    Eric – since you mentioned it that was the first and only time I used the term fake news. It’s almost like I sensed a fake yank coming.

    Sorry georgio. It must have been someone else that said it on here. You get my point though, right? It is a propaganda technique that if you repeat something enough times that it becomes accepted. Goebbles used it with great effect and so have Trump and his cohorts.

    I know you don’t get as much of this Trump propaganda in the UK and I am probably oversensitive as they run permanent quasi-elections campaigns over here non-stop on TV news and it drives me a bit mad – seeing what they are doing, and knowing the playbook it comes from.

    I didn’t mean to offend you mate, that term just rubs me the wrong way.

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  29. Actually, the permanent political campaign over here is so bad that I have to avoid watching TV news for weeks on end otherwise my head would explode.

    It really is insane. You have 2 years of campaigning for President and just when you think it is done they have primaries for who should run for congress in the mid-term elections. It really is like a George Orwell unreality but is actually reality.

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  30. Neither have I Ice. I thought they said it was close then it all went quiet over the last week. Same as Benitez’ supposed deal.

    Jermaine Jenas thinks we will have a very hard season and will get spankee by Liverpool. I have gone 0-0 because I think Rafa have us set on ultra defense mode and because we all expect Liverpool to create a million chances, exactly the opposite will happen.

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  31. SHAM phew I thought I missed something,heard it will be announced just before the international break so let’s see,we never get any luck against Pool would nice to get a change of luck,if Richie is on form we could get a chance or two but can we take them? we need to because I think Pool will score imo

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