The Chronicle have revealed that Mike Ashley is ‘desperate’ to secure Rafa Benitez’s future at the club ‘as soon as possible’ – a positive sign that he is keen to keep the Spaniard at the club, but one that makes me question his motivation behind it.
Benitez will no doubt he one of the highest paid managers there’s ever been at Newcastle United, but he is also one of the best we’ve had, and you’d like to think Ashley appreciates that.
He clearly takes that for granted, with him failing to give him the backing he required over the last three windows, but he will realise how important Benitez is to his asset; Newcastle United Football Club.
With that in mind, it’s also clear to see what his main motivation behind securing Benitez’s future would be. He wants a sale this summer and knows that Benitez is without doubt the club’s biggest asset at present, so tying him down for any prospective buyer would be firmly in his interests – for business reasons as much as footballing ones.
Theories aside, here’s what the Chronicle have had to say on the matter today, admitting that Ashley wants to secure Benitez’s future “as soon as possible”, with the gaffer’s current contract set to run out in 2019:
“There is a feeling of drift at the moment at Newcastle – as if big off-the-field issues have been mothballed while we wait to see what may or may not happen with a takeover that has not so much stalled as completely disappeared off the radar. We understand Ashley wants to secure Benitez’s future “as soon as possible” – which is an encouraging sign that he at least recognises the importance of the manager to what the club is trying to achieve.
“But he will need to work out a way forward for Newcastle that frees up the ludicrous situation we have at the moment where key transfer decisions are being held up by a decision-making structure that is not fit for purpose.
“Benitez recognises the need to combine business and football in the decision-making process and Newcastle, even burnished by TV and prize money if they stay up, will have to operate within parameters that the Spaniard is not used to. But he feels he could make a difference even on a budget – which is why he constructed an in-depth business plan weighing up the needs of the club and balance sheet last season.”
The problem is, Ashley’s actions (or lack of them) and broken promises over the past three transfer windows have done little to convince Rafa that he’s the man he wants to work under, making this all seem a bit ‘too little too late’ from Ashley if you’re Rafa Benitez. Will Rafa commit to a man he can’t trust? Ashley is perhaps stupid to believe he would on recent history.
Even if he wants to sell up, Ashley will never find a manager who is both capable of running all football matters whilst maintaining an understanding of the business side of things.
As the passage above explains, he is not demanding, he is proposing ways in which they can move forward together to benefit both Ashley and the football club.
To force him out at this stage would be suicidal. The problem is, you can never trust Mike Ashley to make the right decision.