With only a month to go until Newcastle start pre-season training, the lack of confirmation regarding Rafa Benitez is predictably not doing much for the blood pressure of your average Newcastle fan.
There has never been such a short window between seasons and with only 10 weeks until the Championship kicks off, the thought of Rafa deciding to walk away just doesn’t bear thinking about.
Amusingly, in a kind of poacher turned gamekeeper scenario, many of the journalists who regularly cover Newcastle United are the ones who are now trying to reassure supporters that the former Real Madrid Manager isn’t going anywhere.
Whereas usually the typical NUFC journalist will see the benefits of spreading doubt and panic in this kind of day by day torture we are all experiencing, instead the constant message from the north east football press has been ‘Keep calm, Rafa is staying’.
The last 24 hours have brought more of these ‘don’t worry’ messages (see below) and Wednesday morning has brought claims from a number of newspapers, that a major reason for the delay is the fact that the legal team representing Rafa Benitez is based in Spain.
With the distance/language presumably seen as an extra hurdle, although with Rafa having already worked at Liverpool and Chelsea in this country and the fact that presumably the same legal team sorted out Benitez’ original deal at Newcastle, you wouldn’t have thought it a major obstacle. Especially with these amazing new advances, such as telephones and computers.
Rafa Benitez already has a contract in place at Newcastle United, having agreed a three years and a few months contract when he arrived at St James Park in March.
So what this then surely only left, was for neither Mike Ashley and/or Rafa Benitez to activate the relegation clause.
So what it boils down to surely now, is Ashley having to satisfy Rafa Benitez that he will have the right level of control at the club, especially when it comes to which players will be bought & sold, and a credible budget to work.
When we are constantly told it is just fine details to be sorted and nothing to worry about, you can hardly help but think that if it was only fine details, why it can’t be concluded very quickly. This is particularly the case when relegation looked nailed on for so long, so surely you would have expected at least some major work done before the end of the season whereby discussing ‘what if’.
The common sense approach is surely that when you have a situation where uncertainty isn’t doing the club, manager or fans any favours, surely the delay must come down to a fundamental gap that still needs to be closed between club owner and potential long-term manager.
For now though I’ll leave you with some reassuring messages from poachers turned gamekeepers, Craig Hope (Mail) and Luke Edwards (Telegraph).
Craig Hope (The Mail) 21 May 2016:
“Rafa Benitez has been working all week on assumption he’s staying at NUFC and that will (almost certainly) be confirmed officially next week.”
Craig Hope (The Mail) 24 May 2016:
“For those asking for an update on NUFC and Benitez… don’t worry, it’s happening.”
Luke Edwards (Telegraph) 25 May 2016:
“This is an appeal for calm. Everything is progressing as it should regarding Benitez. No need to panic. Expect it to be done by weekend.”