Summer 2016 saw Rafa Benitez agree to stay at Newcastle United, despite the club ending up in the Championship despite his best efforts.
Mike Ashley clinging onto stooge Steve McClaren for far too long, before far too late he accepted change had to be made and Rafa Benitez then approached the club offering his services.
The Spaniard seeing a potential in the club that Ashley and his minions previously hadn’t appeared to share.
It was widely reported last summer, and taken for granted by the fans, that Rafa Benitez had only agreed to stay at St James Park if he was now the main man when it comes to transfers. Having the final say on who was bought and sold by Newcastle.
I have no doubts that this was agreed, with rather than Graham Carr or other anonymous people behind the scenes recommending what happened, it was now the ‘radical plan’ of the manager actually choosing players he would want to manage and who he believed would improve his team/squad.
Saturday night has now brought widespread media claims that Rafa Benitez isn’t happy with the lack of signings so far this summer, with some claiming he could be on the verge of walking away if the club don’t back him.
Some Newcastle fans have responded with the line that the story must be rubbish because Rafa Benitez has full control of transfers, so why would he be unhappy as it is him making the decisions.
This is a far too unrealistic interpretation of Rafa’s, or indeed any other manager’s position, Ashley/NUFC haven’t just handed Rafa Benitez a fully loaded credit/debit card to the tune of £60m/£70m/£80m/£whatever…and he then swans around Europe/UK on a shopping trip, picking up any players that take his fancy.
Rafa might be the main man when deciding on transfer targets but nothing else has changed in the process, just like Graham Carr (or whoever previously), the United boss will propose various signings and then it is up to Mike Ashley and his minions to make the official approach and decide as to whether they pay the transfer fee and wages.
We are all guilty of remembering what we want to remember and that is definitely the case with last season.
It is only four months ago when Rafa Benitez made clear how unhappy he was at a lack of signings in January.
As outlined above, the Newcastle Manager had put forward a number of players he wanted to sign and Mike Ashley didn’t allow anybody to be brought in, not even on loan.
Less than 24 hours after the January window closed, Newcastle played out a really poor 2-2 home draw with QPR and when interviewed afterwards (see below) made clear how unhappy he was with what had (hadn’t!) happened regarding transfers.
However, he then did the professional thing and said that now he just had to get on with the players he had been left with, to try and ensure promotion was achieved, then look to see what happened in the summer.
We are in the summer now and still no signings (apart from Atsu’s loan conversion into permanent), Rafa Benitez wasn’t happy in January/February and he must surely feel the same way now, only eight days until pre-season training and no new players.
How much of that unhappiness will be directed at Mike Ashley and others running the club (recently claimed Ashley’s confidante Justin Barnes had been sent in to take any major financial decisions above Lee Charnley) is of course the unknown, how much it is a difficult market and how much it is down to those at Newcastle United.
Having seen a number of transfer windows (including the summer ones) when Mike Ashley hasn’t allowed a single player to be bought, Newcastle fans know just how extreme the club’s owner can go.
We believe in Rafa but I can’t see how anybody can have belief in the rest of them at the club.
Let’s just hope that the Manager gets things pushing his way.
From The Mag 1 February 2017:
After the game, Newcastle’s poor display ensured that questions would be asked about the failure to strengthen the squad last month.
Asked if he was surprised no signings were made, Rafa Benitez said ‘Yes’.
Then the United boss was asked if he had an explanation about what had happened yesterday (deadline day) and why no signings happened, Rafa replying ‘No – because I don’t know’.
Clearly disappointed about the failure to strengthen and especially in not bringing in a wide player, Rafa Benitez was left to try and put a positive spin on the upcoming matches and the rest of the season.
“We knew what we needed and we knew what we have so we have to bring the best from the players we have.
“I can’t change things now so I have to concentrate on bringing the best from my players.
“I said before I am disappointed but I have to concentrate on the players we have and try to improve them.
“Hopefully we can get three points in the next game and start doing things in the same way we did in the first half of the season.”