It has been a worrying few days for Newcastle fans as rumours have intensified over the future of Rafa Benitez.
In typical Newcastle style, we were only allowed to enjoy a superb win against Chelsea for 24 hours or so before negative headlines were once again upon us. Rafa is the best manager Newcastle have has since Sir Bobby Robson and he is central to anything we can achieve.
So just what does Mike Ashley await if he allows Rafa to walk out the door? And what can he do to stop if from happening?
Get back from holiday and sort out this mess
Ashley has a bad habit of sunning himself on a beach somewhere (takeover talks) when Newcastle need him and now is no different. He is reportedly in Barbados and after hiring a puppet of no power in Lee Charnley, all major decisions on transfer budgets and future plans have once again been held up.
He needs to focus on Newcastle for once, if not for the fans but for the sake of his own business, and come back are sort this out. Rafa will have made it clear what funds he wants to compete and what assurances, so just give him them. It really shouldn’t be more complicated than that.
The biggest backlash yet awaits if Benitez left for West Ham
We have had huge low points under Ashley: Changing the stadium name, selling Andy Carroll, hiring Joe Kinnear, two relegations, Derek Llambias – the list can go on. However, if Rafa were to leave it would feel different this time. The final straw for most fans.
Protests would re-surface naturally, ticket sales would decrease hugely, top players would want to leave and the unity Rafa carefully built would descend into a toxic atmosphere on the whole club.
Once again, we would be a crisis club and what is worse, with no real hope either. Surely, even from just the business side, Ashley can’t WANT that?
The value of his club would plummet without Rafa
As a key figure of the club and as PCP realised, Rafa is an asset in himself. The club is worth more money with him in charge. Players perform better and are worth more in turn too, we win more games and generate more prize money and he is a world renowned manager brand wise.
His presence keeps gates high too; all of this would plummet if he were to leave. Ashley must crunch the sums and realise he needs to keep Rafa on board or risk losing an asset who is key to getting a sale, or keeping us successful in the meantime.
All hope would be lost
Hope is the key word I hear fans attribute to Rafa. He is a winner and has managed Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Liverpool et al yet is happy at Newcastle. He openly says he wants to win cups not celebrate mediocrity. He wants to grow the club and leave a legacy – music to fans ears.
No other manager of his calibre would work for a non top 6 team, let alone one controlled by Mike Ashley. While we have Rafa we have unity too – he does great work in the community and has the fan base as one. No protests, no complaints – just hope to progress and knowing we are in safe hands. This ties into the backlash of fans if he is allowed to walk, no hope would be dangerous for Ashley. He can’t afford to take the fans on again, especially if he does actually want to sell.
It’s sounding like Manuel Pellegrini may be the man heading to West Ham, not Rafa, but talks between Benitez and the club are set to be entering a crucial stage according to the Chronicle today.
Let’s cling to the hope that Rafa was using West Ham’s interest to force Ashley’s hand. Actions speak louder than words, Mike.
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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.