Back in 2009, a takeover was being discussed following relegation and Alan Shearer had held talks with Mike Ashley over being appointed as the new permanent manager of Newcastle United.
Several weeks later, Shearer received no contact from Ashley, with the total silence and lack of response from the club making it clear that he was no longer wanted – despite the fact he felt progress was being made in initial talks.
Don’t get me wrong, this situation is slightly different with Rafa. Talks have always been a bit of a battle, with Benitez pushing for compromises, coupled with the fact we haven’t just suffered relegation this time around, but there’s a few worrying similarities.
Does Mike Ashley feel threatened by Benitez and Shearer? Men who are not only adored by fans but the sort of characters who’ll always push for nothing but the best for their club – meaning they’re anything but puppets (Pardew, McClaren) or ‘yes men’ he can control as he tries to milk his cash cow?
One thing I do find odd about the current situation (and this is worryingly similar to Shearer’s scenario 10 years ago) is the complete and utter silence straight after talks were said to be progressing and reaching a conclusion.
Remember when Rafa appeared MUCH more confident regarding contract talks during that end of season press conference? It felt like a huge step forward and suggested there’d been some form of breakthrough. This optimism was something Shearer clearly had after positive talks in 2009.
Back to Benitez and soon after the final day win at Fulham, we then heard widespread reports confirm that he was meeting with Ashley and Charnley in London for crunch talks at the back end of May. It was reported by several local journalists that an announcement on his contract situation was expected to come out within a week of that meeting – yet we’re here a month later more confused than ever and still awaiting any word from either Rafa, the club or Mike Ashley.
Yes the takeover talk has muddied the waters, but it does seem quite bizarre that there’s been a sudden wall of silence from all parties. Is Mike Ashley up to his old tricks again and leaving Benitez in the dark, or is something really going on behind the scenes?
Either a takeover is in the offing and Rafa is just sitting put, with a contract from Ashley off the table if new owners are arriving, or things between the NUFC owner and Benitez have taken a turn for the worse, with the silence suggesting Ashley’s ‘final offer’ falls way below the Spaniard’s expectations.
Let’s hope things turn out MUCH better for Benitez than they did for Shearer and that the constant ‘no comments’ are because a takeover is in fact in the offing.
We live in hope, but never in expectation while Mike Ashley’s calling the shots.