It is quite comical the media coverage of Rafa Benitez.
Only a few days there were widespread reports that there had been no talks whatsoever between Rafa and anybody from Newcastle United about his future, with anything that was going to be discussed about his future waiting until the future (survival/relegation) was decided.
This week though, the press are falling over themselves to claim that the club have already done X, Y and Z to try and keep the manager, whilst elsewhere there are claims by some journalists that they know Rafa Benitez has now fallen in love with the fans and is desperate to stay, pretty much regardless of any other issues.
I think we all know, that they know, precisely nothing.
They don’t even seem to bother now attributing their exclusive information to a ‘source/sauce’, just stating as supposed fact that they know the state of mind of the manager and/or what tune Mike Ashley will be ordering his minions to dance to next.
I hope (and I also believe) that there is a good chance Rafa Benitez would stay at Newcastle if relegation happened BUT this only stands any kind of chance if Mike Ashley has accepted defeat, realising after nine years that he has to finally do things properly and hand over all the important decisions to somebody who knows what they are doing.
A bit too much to hope that this would apply throughout the club, so whilst I hold out no real expectation of things being done properly when it comes to driving commercial revenue or picking and choosing who the club partners with – if there is to be any chance of keeping Rafa, then Ashley has to hand over control of all footballing aspects of the club.
This would encompass everything from the set-up at the academy right through to which players are bought and sold, plus the supply of new state of the art training facilities which Mike Ashley put on indefinite hold over a year ago due to last season’s relegation close shave.
I prefer to deal in facts though for the time being.
Firstly, I know for a fact that Rafa Benitez has sampled the delights of Nando’s in the increasingly cosmopolitan Gateshead town centre.
Secondly, I know that Rafa has also given us back all a little bit of self-respect as Newcastle fans and most importantly, reminded us of how a club can be managed normally and without all the nonsense that came with yes-men over the previous five years+ since Chris Hughton was booted out for walking the Championship and bringing mid-table respectability in the Premier League.
So thank you Rafa Benitez, you have reminded us of what our minimum expectations should be, when it comes to the kind of person who manages our football club and the way they conduct themselves.
If Rafa decides the Championship is not for him then fair enough but hopefully the Newcastle supporters, now that they have rediscovered that little self-respect, will not settle for football matters sliding back to what they were.
There can be no acceptance of foisting another Pardew/Carver/McClaren puppet onto the club’s unbelievable support and if Mike Ashley can’t see that this is the case then he will have to bear the consequences.