Rafa Benitez met up with Mike Ashley on Sunday after the win over Barnsley and on-pitch celebrations which followed confirmation of the result at Villa Park.
However, that meeting of owner and manager was more of a mutual celebration/relief at a job competed (and photo opportunity – see above), rather than what happens next…
Tuesday late afternoon/early evening though, saw Rafa Benitez and Lee Charnley head off by helicopter from the club’s training ground to meet Mike Ashley at an unknown location.
Local media are claiming that their information is that this meeting has gone well, though very dubious that they know anything at all. Unless the club has told them something…and they are hardly going to be telling anybody anything different at this stage anyway.
Unlike past managers that he has messed around, there is very unlikely to be anything similar put up with by Rafa Benitez.
He has said all the right things and acted as the total professional, in saying he is very positive and isn’t expecting any problems etc etc BUT if Mike Ashley doesn’t quickly share the same vision as Rafa, we can expect movement very quickly.
Everything crossed that Ashley does the obvious thing and backs Rafa Benitez but if he doesn’t, then the Manager would have no shortage of other offers and would want to rapidly get things sorted at the Newcastle end to find his next project.
That though is surely not going to happen…hopefully, so when can we expect to get any news?
Well last season Newcastle played their last match (beat Spurs 5-1) on Sunday 15 May and it was only 10 days later that the club released an official statement (see below) confirming that agreement had been reached.
That was preceded by confident media reports over the previous 24 hours which indicated that Rafa was definitely staying and formal confirmation would be coming soon.
On this sunny day on Tyneside, we are now three days into the post-season and you would expect a similar timeframe, with things dragging on no longer than another week or so.
The reality is that it could be far sooner and if Mike Ashley has bought into Rafa’s plans then no reason it can’t come very quickly.
No doubt Rafa Benitez will be fancying getting away from it all, just like his players, and enjoy a well-earned break. He will want his and the club’s future sorted out before he heads off to lie by a pool somewhere, sipping his San Miguel and formulating his plans for an assault on the Premier League.
Although being the workaholic that he is, he may well just be itching to get stuck into the transfer targets and get some outline agreements with his top targets.
As for the fans, we just want to hear that confirmation he will be staying and then everything else can flow from there.
Official Newcastle United Statement – 25 May 2016
‘Newcastle United are delighted to confirm that Rafa Benitez will remain as Newcastle United manager, after signing a new initial three-year contract.
On Wednesday afternoon the Spaniard put pen to paper on the deal which will keep him on Tyneside until at least the summer of 2019.
Benitez will have day-to-day responsibility for all football-related matters at the club.
The 56-year-old joined the Magpies in March, taking charge of the team for the final ten games of the 2015/16 season.
Despite the club’s eventual relegation, he led United to three victories and a six-game unbeaten run, which culminated in a comprehensive 5-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur on the final day of the season.
Benitez said: “I am extremely pleased to be staying at Newcastle United.
“The love I could feel from the fans was a big influence for me in my decision to stay, as was my relationship with Lee Charnley and all the staff.
“This is a huge club and I wanted to be part of the great future I can see for Newcastle United.”
Managing director Lee Charnley added: “When we brought Rafa to the club in March, we knew he was a phenomenal manager and everything we have seen from him since has only served to reinforce that.
“We are therefore delighted to have secured his services for the next three years and I believe with Rafa as manager it gives us the best possible chance of returning to the Premier League at the first time of asking and delivering success for this football club beyond that.
“It is clear that Rafa has connected deeply with the club’s supporters and we do not underestimate the role they have played in his decision to stay.
“He has captured the hearts and minds not just of the fans, but of everyone who has had the pleasure of working with him at the club thus far.
“As a world-class manager we had no doubt in our minds as to the importance of retaining him at Newcastle United.”
A further announcement regarding Benitez’s coaching staff will be made in due course.’