There was finally some good news on the future of Rafa Benitez yesterday, even if it wasn’t the new contract we are all hoping for. It looks like a long summer ahead of speculation ahead for Newcastle fans but at least there is something positive to report.
‘Positive talks’ and the promise of a ‘competitive budget’ have reportedly resulted in Benitez saying he will stay next season but a new contract beyond that is still in doubt and yet to be agreed. So just where does that leave us?
The good news
Initially, I think there is just some relief that he isn’t going to West Ham, of all places. Pellegrini looks set for the role after strong rumours last week that Benitez was ready to leave Newcastle to move to the Olympic Stadium. Newcastle fans would not blame Rafa if he walked, it’s a minor miracle he is still here considering the constraints of working with Mike Ashley. If he does leave it should be for a Champions League club and West Ham securing an alternative manager is another piece of the jigsaw in Rafa hopefully staying this summer.
The fact talks have taken place and there is some form of breakthrough is a massive positive. It is big step forward and must mean Rafa has heard some things he likes or some of his demands on funding and infrastructure will be met. It is also worth remembering that Rafa is a master politician, just as he says he wont sign a contract now it doesn’t mean he wont; he realises having 1 year left on his deal is the best bargaining chip he has to demand more cash for new players. He wont commit until he gets what he wants and in writing no doubt after failed promises previously.
So the fact that Rafa looked likely to join West Ham a week ago and now looks likely to be in the dugout for us come August is good news. We just need further progress to made in the coming weeks so common sense can prevail a new contract signed.
The bad news
Although this is a breakthrough of sorts, it only secures Rafa as manager for next season – not for the future. It also shows that issues still amazingly persist from Ashley. The Chronicle state ‘positive talks’ were held, but they still mustn’t have been positive and reassuring enough for Rafa to sign a new deal. Why he won’t commit the funds to Rafa and the control over transfers he wants just seems bizarre and is so frustrating to watch history repeat himself time and time again under the Ashley tenure.
Rafa rightly will not sign a new contract until everything is right and if it is taking this long you have to question whether the club will ever back him with the resources he needs. We could not have hoped for better than a 10th place finish and it meant maximum prize money. Takeover talks look to have failed with a high asking price putting buyers off and while Ashley is here we will always lack ambition.
You get the sense the love of the club and the area continues to keep Benitez here and he is determined to use his success on Tyneside to force Ashley’s hand. He is the only manager to consistently question Ashley while staying at the club – Rafa knows Ashley needs him. The bad news is that while he is owner, the future of a top class manager like Rafa will always be in doubt and this latest news just confirms that. Things are never straight forward with Ashley.
What do you make of the latest twist in the future of Rafa Benitez? Will he sign a new contract and stay beyond next season?
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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.