Rafa Benitez has hinted there ‘could have been a sale’ at Newcastle last summer – and knew he must leave when it failed to materialise as Mike Ashley refused to sanction the investment needed to allow us to ‘grow’.
This comes from his latest interview with Spanish outlet AS, with him currently in his homeland with the Dalian Yifang squad after a coronavirus outbreak delayed the start of the Chinese Super League season.
Here’s what the former boss has had to say when reflecting on the final few months of his spell at St James’ Park, a failed takeover last summer and Mike Ashley’s lack of ambition:
“We had a stage of reflection in Newcastle, because there could have been a sale and a new project appeared.
“In Newcastle, we were close to home and this change could have entailed a strong financial commitment.
“However, it didn’t happen, and the previous project showed it didn’t want to grow (under Mike Ashley) because it hadn’t made the necessary investment.
“Then this project was born in China, which has a great investment.
“Behind this club is Wanda, the world’s leading construction company, which wants to and puts many means to improve football in Dalian.”
Some questioned Rafa Benitez’s loyalty after he swapped his project on Tyneside for big money move to China, but I don’t buy into that.
He risked his reputation to help us in a relegation battle, he stayed when we were in the Championship – swapping the Bernabeu for Burton away – and fought on after promotion despite a criminal lack of investment from Mike Ashley.
Benitez did all he could, yet must be scratching his head at the fact Steve Bruce saw £60m of talent arrive last summer – as well as having deals sanctioned for the likes of Danny Rose and Andy Carrolll; two players way out of Ashley’s tedious transfer blue print.
All we wanted last summer was Benitez to stay and Rondon to sign, yet we were handed Bruce – a Championship boss based on his recent CV – and a £40m flop who looks lost in a side that totally lacks identity or sustainable tactics.