In a fascinating new piece, The Telegraph’s Luke Edwards has focused on the other side of the coin in the Rafa Benitez debate, explaining why the Spaniard should STAY at Newcastle United – even if he doesn’t get what he wants.
Edwards – a reliable source when it comes to all things NUFC – states that any move to China would be for all the wrong reasons, with him playing devil’s advocate in a piece that focuses on why Rafa STILL has several good reasons to stay.
Here’s a snippet from Luke Edwards’ must-read piece for the Telegraph today, questioning whether Rafa would be making a huge mistake leaving Newcastle – even if Mike Ashley is refusing to compromise:
‘There are still good reasons for Benitez to stay. He has a team that has improved every year, the core of a squad that really could challenge for a cup competition next season, if he stayed and recruited well this summer. Newcastle have momentum, he is responsible for that, but maybe he does not want to continue, because, well, he does not want to work with the budget he has at St James’ Park.
‘If that happens, though, it is his next move that will ultimately shape perceptions of his decision.
‘If, as we have been led to believe by a series of very deliberate and well-timed leaks, Benitez is on the verge of taking a job in China, he will be going for the wrong reasons. He will not be going, as he has repeatedly insisted, because he wants to win trophies and challenge for silverware. He will be going for money because that’s the only reason any goes to work in Chinese football.
‘He will leave Newcastle in the lurch, manager-less on the eve of pre-season training. He told the club he wanted to stay months ago, but he has been unwilling to compromise enough to make that happen so far.
‘There will be some who admire his principles, who applaud the fact he could not stay and work for a man like Ashley, but no manager gets everything they want. That last bit is difficult to stomach and part of me wants to delete it as I read it back because Benitez is such a good manager, but I cannot.
‘He was told what his transfer budget would be, but it appears that is not enough. He was told what the wage budget would be. That appears not to be enough. He was asked to sign young players, if he could, but he was reluctant to work under those parameters. He has been reassured the club would not sign any players against his wishes, but it seems Benitez wants the power to sign whoever he wants. No football club works like that.
‘He has been offered a one-year contract, but he was asked if he would sign a longer one. He did not because he does not trust those above him to keep their word. That is a sad, infuriating state of affairs.
‘It appears as though Benitez will not sign unless he gets everything he desired and, unfortunately, some of those demands are unreasonable within the Newcastle business model. Newcastle are a self-sufficient football club. He knew that when he took over three and a half years ago, and he has known it every year since. He has not been told anything he did not know already this summer.
Newcastle could undoubtedly have done more to improve his personal terms. They should have been willing to give Benitez a substantial pay rise rather than link increases– as Telegraph Sport understands they have – to performance-related bonuses. They need to make him feel wanted and nothing speaks louder than financial reward. It could still happen. There is still time for Benitez to alter course.
However, when Chinese clubs are willing to double his salary, how many of us can say, hand on wallet, that we would not be tempted by that sort of offer. I would be.
But I would not have pretended otherwise, I would not have claimed the things that mattered were different. I would not have talked about wanting to stay in England for family reasons, I would not have claimed my sole motivation on Tyneside was to help Newcastle’s realise its vast potential. Because he was doing that, slowly, but surely. He was improving the team; improving the football club.
‘If you really are going Rafa, then be honest about the reasons why. And if you stay – and I really hope you can be pulled back from the precipice – I will be the first person to apologise and thank you for remaining to finish the work you have started on Tyneside.‘
This piece comes a matter of hours after George Caulkin admitted in a worrying that Rafa Benitez is ‘almost gone’ in a new report for the Times – with him later stating on Twitter that it would now take a ‘miracle’ to keep him at the club.
I don’t think many would blame Benitez if he did walk this summer, but I think Luke hits the nail on the head in saying that any move to China would feel wrong – especially when he would be leaving for something that goes against many of the main things he’s stood for over the past few years.