Rafa Benitez admits that Mike Ashley has not invested what he expected since promotion in order to make us a ‘top 8’ club – but he insists that he’s planning to manage in England for ‘at least’ another 10 years.
The fact that he wanted us to be the next best side after the big six just months promotion just sums up this man’s hunger for success – but, as we all know, he can only take this club so far without proper investment in certain areas.
Here’s what Rafa had to say to Spanish paper AS when asked why things haven’t quite gone to plan since we were promoted back to the Premier League:
“After winning the Championship and getting promoted, the level of investment [in the squad] wasn’t what I had hoped it would be and that’s why we haven’t been able to close the gap on those teams above us.
“We couldn’t keep the team up. But we took a risk, which was to stay and take Newcastle back up from the Championship and then to put together a competitive side to challenge for the top eight… that was the idea.”
Looking at our team now, there’s no reason that a defensive core containing Dubravka, Schar, Lascelles and Lejeune can’t take us to the top 8 and beyond (even though they cost less than £20m combined), however it’s spending money in attacking areas that’s essential. We may have picked up Schar for £3m, but you wont sign a quality striker or Salomon Rondon for anything less than £15m in this day and age.
Rafa then said the following when asked how long he sees himself managing and whether he’ll stay in England or move abroad:
“For another 10 years at least.
“And mostly in England, where you can work as a manager.
“The main thing is to have energy and enthusiasm, and I have both.”
Finally, here’s what Rafa had to say when asked just what his ‘perfect project’ would be as a manager – with him hinting at how he wants to see things develop at Newcastle:
“I’m talking about an ambitious project for the future with the possibility, at the level that you are at, of competing and winning.
“When you have won titles you want to carry on fighting for that goal.
“I enjoy my job, my people take care of the technology very well and we want to get back to competing for titles if possible.
“It depends mainly on those in the boardroom, on how those that make the decisions allow the professionals to do their job.
“In that respect, every club is different.
“All of the teams that are successful have a stamp of identity or a way of doing things.
“Almost without exception success comes from hard work, but sometimes luck plays its part or the skill of individual players makes the difference. “But when someone wins in three different countries, with different cultures and standpoints, it means that they’re doing something right.”
An intriguing interview from Rafa and one that offers another reminder that he’s hear to stay if Ashley will just loosen his purse strings and get behind his ‘vision’ with a project that can bring success back to this club.
Rafa may be doing a brilliant job and looks set to keep us up once again, but a manager of his calibre wants to be involved in the latter stages of Cups and European nights; not relegation battles.