West Ham may be busting a gut to bring Rafa Benitez to the London Stadium, but I’d like to bet that the Spaniard is only entertaining their interest for one reason and one reason only – to make Ashley believe he’s serious about leaving and force him into action.
Us NUFC fans woke up to some pretty horrible news today, with Sky and various others stating that West Ham are planning a big move to activate his £6m clause and give him whatever he wants this summer.
I have absolutely no doubt that they’re interested, but I have serious doubts as to whether he’d genuinely be interested in taking that job.
They may have a few quality players he’d like to work with and could throw a bit of money his way, but when you see how he talks about NUFC, the community, the fans, the potential and what he’s spent two years trying to build, why would he swap us for a club in such a similar position?! I’d be shocked – especially given their owners aren’t much less unpredictable and erratic than Mike Ashley himself!
His future is a real concern and talk of him leaving makes me feel physically sick given his importance to this club and everything he stands for at NUFC (hope), but I’m hoping (and am quite confident) that it’s all a big ploy on Benitez’s part – make it look like you’re about to leave and Ashley will probably panic, realise what he could be about to lose and pull his finger out.
The worry is that Ashley is a massive risk taker, but he’d face a backlash like never before if Benitez left and he’d also see the value of his asset (NUFC) fall incredibly. Why would he want to oversee the mess he’d create in allowing Rafa to walk away?
Rafa is a clever man. Talks over a new deal clearly haven’t progressed quickly enough so he’s taking action. He’s not got any intention to join West Ham in my opinion, he’s just going to make it look that way in a bid to force Ashley into action.
The key for me will be how Ashley now responds to this. If he doesn’t then he’s an even bigger fool than I could have ever possibly imagined, and then, who knows that will happen with Rafa Benitez..