Rafa Benitez gave local press an insightful update on his potential long term future at Newcastle United, admitting the situation is ‘tricky’ and it needs resolved soon; well before the summer.
All fans know Benitez is key to securing a bright future on the pitch. Having a world class manager who has big plans to progress the club would be celebrated by most other owners but being forced into investment is clearly not on Ashley’s radar.
So what were the key points from Rafa’s latest comments on his future and how worried should we be?
Rafa wants things sorted “as soon as possible” – but Ashley has a tendancy to act slowly.
Rafa emphasised that he wants things resolved quickly, aligning himself further with the wishes of the fans. We all know this can’t drag on and with a takeover looking increasingly unlikely – a stand-off looms. Benitez will stay and turn down offers to leave, but only if he feels Newcastle can match his ambitions. A fair request, but with Ashley always looking to run the club on the cheap, something has to give. Whether Ashley decides to back Rafa this summer like he did McClaren when he sanctioned moves for Wijnaldum, Mitrovic and Thauvin remains to be seen but with more TV money than ever, there is no excuse not to. Or Rafa will walk. I think by the end of May we will have a far clearer picture.
Benitez “needs money to compete” – but will a want-away Mike Ashley give him it?
In modern football ambition means cash and lots of it. Rafa is realistic but also ambitious. He will be rightly requesting for a summer budget of around £80-£100m net spend after frugal spends in the last two windows. Ten years ago this would have been crazy money but the likes of Everton and Leicester now think nothing of spending £20/30m on one player, whereas our transfer record remains £17m on Michael Owen from all the way back in 2005. Benitez will want to break the record multiple times this summer just to bring in decent quality and move us up the table. It’s not Ashley’s style to spend big money – and that’s the big worry here. He may have to if Benitez’s plans are to be actioned.
“This club has to be competing to be in the top 8 or higher” – but can we achieve that under Ashley?
One thing was certainly clear in the latest update, the minimum of success for Rafa in his eyes is top 8 and challenging for cups and European qualification. It’s music to Newcastle fans ears and exciting finally having a manager who actually has to calibre to achieve such targets, but there’s a fear that we just won’t be able achieve that under Ashley.
Rafa has won honours at most of his clubs and has proved his credentials further by winning the Championship and keeping us up – both fantastic achievements. Rafa mentioned that was the target and that he did both early – the ball is very much back in Ashley’s court.
I have remained positive about Rafa staying but am beginning to have my doubts. Looking at history, Ashley doesn’t invest and doesn’t care about the fans opinions or what the media think. He will know how good Rafa is, it’s obvious, but does he care like the rest of us? No.
I think a takeover is the best bet of keeping Rafa and that is fading – let’s hope talks are going on with PCP that we aren’t aware of. Otherwise, we are then hoping for Ashley to change his ways after 11 years of error, mistake and ignorance. There is the famous quote that madness is doing the same thing time and time again and expecting different results…
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About Simon Riddlesden
Lifelong Newcastle United fan and East Stand season ticket holder. Observations from a supporter who has followed NUFC during Champions League participation and through relegation, taking me from Milan to Scunthorpe.