Late Monday night brought news of a major step being taken in persuading Rafa Benitez to stay and Graham Carr being the major sacrifice in convincing the Manager to remain at St James Park.
Can we believe?
It is a tough call for two reasons:
Firstly, Rafa Benitez is not going to be short of offers this summer if he decided to leave Newcastle, maybe not quite at the Real Madrid level but the near miracle he almost performed at Newcastle (third best form in Premier League in final six games) certainly hasn’t harmed his CV.
Secondly and probably the hardest mental hurdle to overcome, is believing that Mike Ashley has finally accepted he has to do things properly.
Ever since (and during) the second managerial spell of Kevin Keegan, the position of Newcastle Manager/Head Coach/Yes man has been consistently undermined.
Any change of direction of course will only be due to self-preservation for Mike Ashley and his money/asset – even he, just maybe, might have realised just how hazardous the route back to the Premier League will be this time around and that he has no other option but to hand over control to somebody who actually knows what they are doing.
A revolutionary concept where Mike Ashley and Newcastle United are concerned.
Last night’s reports of more positive talks between Rafa Benitez and the club (Charnley allegedly, though hard to believe Ashley’s PR sidekick and trusted assistant Keith Bishop wasn’t also involved) were reported simultaneously right across the media.
They were all keen to talk of sauces/sources but when exactly the same story appears at exactly the same time, we know that it is the club telling them all this information, rather than somebody having a…source.
The story they all carried was basically that everything was positive, things moving forward, no final decision yet but hopefully some conclusion by the end of the week.
It is claimed that Rafa Benitez will have free rein to make changes throughout the playing side as he sees fit, both at first team and all levels below, plus he will be in charge of dictating the transfer policy and Graham Carr will almost certainly exit the club.
This is pretty much the way most supporters anticipated any talks going if there was to be any chance of Rafa staying, with possibly/probably the then major issue to be agreed, being what the budget will be in terms of funding the rescue mission.
Those hoping for Lee Charnley’s head on a stick as well…I think he is a big red herring (not literally, though a big red herring with Charnley’s head on top does conjure up an image), yes it would be good to clear the decks and see the back of him as well – but the fact he is by some way the lowest paid MD/CEO of all the Premier League clubs and paid around a fifth 0f what Sunderland’s MD Margaret Byrne was paid and closer to only 5% of what the top Premier League clubs pay their MD, tells you that he clearly doesn’t do an equivalent job.
More an office manager (and fall guy for Ashley) than MD/CEO with major decisions taken clearly by others, getting rid of Charnley would just see somebody equally uninspiring appointed.
So the club want us to all believe that things are moving in the right direction and of course we all want to believe it, a powerful combination.
The reports said that Rafa Benitez travelled back to the family home on Merseyside last night but will be back today (Tuesday) to continue the talking/planning for next season.
Maybe it is quite simply that the stakes are so high and the potential rewards are so tempting, Mike Ashley knows that to step back from doing anything other than persuade Rafa Benitez to stay, will be the equivalent of stepping backwards off the top of a cliff.