George Caulkin – one of the North-East’s most trusted men when it comes to all things NUFC – has today shared a brilliant piece on Benitez’s future on Tyneside and the current state of play surrounding it at present.
The piece centre’s around the idea that Newcastle United must act like a ‘big club’ if they wish to keep Rafa Benitez, discussing the club’s approach to a potential new contract, how and why Rafa could stay this summer, Benitez’s stance if a takeover failed to occur and what the club must do to ensure his happiness as manager – even if that involves Mike Ashley.
Here’s a snippet from George’s fantastic piece for the Times today, discussing all of the points mentioned above:
“Benítez is adored by supporters. He feels his responsibility keenly. He knows what he stands for; hope. That is both a privilege and a burden, because he carries the club on his shoulders. As far as Ashley and his cohorts are concerned, Benítez is the nearest you can get to a managerial guarantee and they are willing to pay for it, but they have also made his existence more difficult than necessary.
“They are pressing, but the situation is nuanced and complex. Benítez still has a year left on his contract. The £6 million get-out clause is still there and the club would want a version of it to continue. Benítez desperately wants to “compete,” — he is a Champions League manager — but he loves the Newcastle fans, the welcome he has received, the proximity to his family home in Merseyside, the theoretical potential. And where are the “better” options?
“It is not correct to say that Benítez will leave this summer if a takeover by Amanda Staveley, the businesswoman, does not proceed. What he recoils from more than anything else is the prospect of unemployment. Benítez is key to what Staveley hopes to put into practice at Newcastle — him staying was enshrined in each of her three previous bids for the club — but the same would apply to other prospective owners, Ashley included. He is an enormous asset.
“It is entirely possible that Benítez will end up staying by default, but you would hope that Newcastle would have the wit to recognise what they have at their fingertips. It is not just about offering Benítez a bigger salary or the promise of transfer funds because those promises are no longer enough. They have been worthless. The club is aching for renewal at every level — the training ground, the academy — and that takes money, commitment and ambition.
“Newcastle patently know what they have, which is why they are pursuing their most gilded employee with such vigour, but to be a big club, to be what Benítez thinks they can be, they have to truly behave like one. Is their goal to be “pound for pound,” the best they can be, as they once stated — that awful, pen-pusher’s phrase — or is it to win something, to stand for something, to strive and keep striving?”
— George Caulkin (@CaulkinTheTimes) April 19, 2018
A brilliant insight into the current state of play and a timely reminder as to why Ashley and co. would be crazy to not give Benitez the assurances he needs this summer.
Takeover or not takeover, Benitez is our biggest hope. Let’s pray Mike Ashley is wise enough to realise his importance to this football club.