According to the Mail’s Craig Hope, a source close to Rafa Benitez has said the Spaniard has been left ‘angry, upset and disappointed’ that the club announced he was leaving before contacting him.
Hope – the Mail’s north-east reporter – claims that Mike Ashley instructed the club to announce his departure in reaction to an email from Rafa Benitez stating that he could ‘see no way forward’ based on the terms offered.
So, Ashley essentially spat his dummy out and told the club to released a statement behind his back, with some reports even claiming that Rafa only found out that he was leaving via Sky Sports news.
Here’s a snippet from Craig Hope’s latest piece for the Mail,
‘Rafa Benitez did not know Newcastle United had announced his departure on Monday after Mike Ashley reacted to an email in which the manager said he could see no way forward.
‘Sportsmail understands Benitez’s last correspondence with the club had been an email in which he had outlined his frustration with negotiations over a contract extension. The Spaniard wanted the promise of more investment, greater control and an improvement on his £6million-per-year salary.
‘However, he was not expecting Ashley to issue a statement confirming their parting at lunchtime on Monday and he was only informed by a friend while at home on the Wirral.
‘Sources close to the 59-year-old say he is ‘angry, upset and disappointed’ by an outcome that will see him leave a club where he was worshipped by supporters, many of whom are now threatening to boycott St James’ Park.
‘Benitez’s deal expires on Sunday and he had thought the club could yet return with a last-minute offer to persuade him to stay, even if he had given up hope on that being enough.
‘Club sources say Benitez was not answering his phone last week and Ashley has now issued the instruction to begin the search for a new manager immediately. Managing director Lee Charnley has been tasked with delivering the new man within the next fortnight.‘
Maybe Rafa was trying to call the club’s bluff and hope they came back in the 11th hour with an improved final offer, however it seems Ashley was having none of it – and didn’t even have the decency to get in touch with him prior to the club’s statement yesterday.
We’ve been on a roller coaster ride over the past three years, but what a sad end this is after all the effort and renewed optimism Rafa Benitez brought to this club.
Mike Ashley has no idea how much of a big mistake he’s just made – both from a financial and footballing perspective.