In an interview with the Times’ George Caulkin, Rafa Benitez has admitted that a contract extension is not a priority of his at the moment – however Caulkin has revealed that communication between the NUFC manager and owner has now ‘tailed away’.
The Spaniard’s current deal expires in 2019 and the board made attempts to offer him an extension in January, however this appears to be a distraction the gaffer refuses to be drawn into until our Premier League status is secured.
You would expect Benitez to be focusing on Huddersfield in two weeks time before considering where his future may lie at the end of the season, but it is a concern to hear that contact between himself and Mike Ashley has only lessened – a worrying sign given the pair MUST come together to make some huge decisions over the coming months.
Here’s a snippet from George’s in-depth chat with the NUFC boss, with Benitez insisting that contract talks are not on his mind, with him preferring to focus fully on the task in hand:
He has a year left on his contract. In the middle of January, the very moment Benítez was pushing to strengthen his squad, Ashley and Lee Charnley, the managing director, asked him to consider an extension. The timing was baffling. It is not a priority. “No,” Benítez says. “The main thing is Huddersfield. The job is not done.” Communication with Ashley has tailed away. “Our talking in January was fine but I have contact with Lee. He’s the link,” he says.
This is the expected response from Rafa, a man who demands focus and takes nothing for granted, however it’s a worry to hear Caulkin state that communication has ‘tailed away’ between Benitez and Ashley.
Rafa admits that Lee Charnley is the ‘link’ between himself and the NUFC owner, however it’s hardly ideal having a middle man between Benitez and his boss that he has little reason to trust.
The first challenge is Premier League safety, but perhaps the biggest obstacle to overcome will be a certain Mike Ashley. A world where he remains and Rafa leaves is an unbearable one for us NUFC fans.