Just hours before the new season kicks off, Lee Charnley has delivered a timely stunt prior to our clash with Arsenal at St James’ Park today.
The club’s managing director discusses the lack of communication this summer (bit late now) and Benitez’s exit – with him claiming the Spaniard left for money we could not compete with.
Here’s what he’s had to say in a rare bit of communication in today’s matchday programme.
“We go into today’s match following changes on and off the pitch over the summer months.
“I appreciate it has been at times, and certainly during the early part of the break, a period of uncertainty for supporters.
“We want to communicate clearly and proactively, but it is important that we do so at the right time.
“Sometimes we must adopt a ‘no comment’ policy and I accept that can be – and has been – frustrating.
“There are reasons behind that approach.
“Often, there are legalities at play or we may take the decision in order to respect the integrity of a process or the individuals involved.
“What we won’t do is fuel speculation by offering a running commentary.
“Instead, when we have something definitive to say, we will say it, as we did as soon as Rafa’s position became clear.
“We understand and expected the disappointment that Rafa’s departure caused.
“We strongly believe we went beyond what could reasonably be asked in order to keep him.
“But let’s be clear, he moved to China for money.
“The offer he received was too tempting.
“We understand that and there is nothing wrong with that.
“It was not something we could compete against.
“We wish him well for the future and thank him for all he achieved.
“Whilst I have stated above that I felt our approach during the summer was necessary, I accept we need to do more from a communication perspective moving forward.
“There is certainly a need to communicate more as a club and to let fans know where we are heading collectively.
“That goes beyond the responsibility of just the head coach or manager in isolation; something we have relied on far too heavily in the past.
“We want to give you more of an insight into what happens across the club and you will therefore be hearing more from me, as you are today, and from our staff across the football club and Foundation over the season.”
Charnley also spoke out about our summer business and recruitment plans moving forward, saying a deal for Joelinton was already agreed in February:
“We were delighted to secure a number of targets that we have had on our radar for a period of time.
“We had several outstanding scouting reports about Joelinton and he is a player who we strived for.
We worked so hard to get a deal agreed for him earlier this year (as far back as February) to take effect from 1 July.
“Everything was in place, with all contracts and paperwork agreed, and it was very disappointing and surprising that we could not conclude it at that time.
“We felt it was a transfer that was in the best interests of the football club.
“However, we needed Rafa’s approval to proceed and, despite our best efforts, this is something he would not give.
“Following Steve Bruce’s arrival, we discussed Joelinton and our scouting reports at length.
“With Steve completely on board, we were delighted to secure him. He and Hoffenheim were very patient and we are grateful to them for that.”
“Steve’s views were very much in line with our own in terms of what the team needed to improve.
“Working together with our head of recruitment, Steve Nickson, and his team, our focus has been in particular on adding quality, pace and power to our attack.
“As Steve Bruce recently said, a team is only as good as its strikers and we have given ourselves strong options in that area.
“The players we have brought in give us a different dimension and we hope they provide excitement and entertainment, starting this afternoon.
“I have to stress that every penny we make really does go into making this club better.
“That principal has been debated and questioned, but we are audited independently and have to provide regular financial information and updates to the Premier League so there is no hiding place.”
He stresses the importance of better communication – something he’s said on many occasions in the past – yet this is the first time we’ve heard from him all summer; and we’re just hours before the start of our new season.
Some things never change!