According to the Northern Echo’s , Mike Ashley’s ‘next move’ will be to personally reach out to Rafa Benitez and his representatives in the hope he’ll agree to sign a new contract before the year is out.
Ashley’s intervention may just be what Rafa and his team need to see, with his previous back-seat role likely to have sent the wrong message, however I think he’s got another thing coming if he’s expecting Rafa to agree to this BEFORE the January window.
As we saw in May, Ashley promised Benitez ‘every penny’ the club generated in the summer, yet we ended with a net spend of -£21m despite making over £100m as a club over the 2017/18 season.
In an ideal world, Benitez will be keen to sign a new contract and extend his stay at St James’ Park, but he’s not going to let Ashley make a mug of him any longer. He’ll surely need proof that Ashley is willing to change his ways in January before agreeing to any deal.
Here’s a snippet from the Northern Echo’s piece this week:
‘Mike Ashley wants to tie Rafael Benitez down to a new five-year deal – and is determined to break the current impasse over the Newcastle United manager’s future.
‘Ashley is keen to initiate a new round of discussions, and is even prepared to take a much more hands-on approach to negotiations if it helps facilitate a breakthrough.
‘His next move will be to reach out to Benitez and his representatives, although it remains to be seen how the Newcastle boss reacts if he is challenged to attend new discussions.
‘Three key sticking points prevented talks from progressing at the start of the year – the extent of Ashley’s financial support in the next few transfer windows and the scope of Benitez’s ability to dictate transfer decisions, an overhaul of the club’s academy structure, and a series of physical improvements to Newcastle’s Darsley Park training ground.’
This, coupled with Ashley’s return to the scene at St James’, perhaps shows that we finally have his attention, with him realising action is needing to be taken on a few fronts, however Rafa won’t be fooled.
He can buy all the free pizzas he likes and congratulate the team after important wins, but the trust that may have once existed between Benitez and Ashley has surely eroded.
Personally, I can’t see a world where Rafa signs a new deal before Ashley puts his money where is mouth is in the January window – and rightly so after so many false ‘promises’.