Journalist John Richardson has covered sport for the past 30 years and has ‘Known Rafa Benitez for quite a few years’.

John is also a big Newcastle fan and regularly comments on what is happening at the club.

Using his Twitter account in the aftermath of the win over Hellas Verona, Richardson has followed up the post-match comments of Rafa Benitez, where the United boss made clear he wasn’t happy with the transfer activity so far.

The longstanding journalist says that Rafa is now ‘at breaking point’ over the lack of quality signings and ‘ready to walk…unless he brings in the players he wants’.

The pair had a long conversation after the recent friendly at Preston (a 1-1 draw on Saturday 22 July), where Rafa Benitez made clear the need for better players to be brought in.

In the 16 days since that chat, Newcastle have only added the inexperienced (only two career starts in the top tier of any country) 21 year old Mikel Merino on loan – with a view to a permanent move.

Rafa has made clear in the media that he wants a number of further signings, which definitely includes a striker and a goalkeeper.

With Daryl Murphy sold and Dwight Gayle having issues with his hamstring once again – which has led to the number nine playing only 30 minutes of the last three friendlies and sitting out the last two altogether, this has left Aleksandar Mitrovic as the only fit striker available. Prompting Rafa to desperately experiment with the likes of Diame, de Jong, Perez and Ritchie as possible stand-ins/false number nines.

However, John Richardson has revealed that the manager has been desperate to off load Newcastle’s number 45, stating ‘Rafa can’t believe Mitro is still there’.

No great surprise really, as Benitez only started Mitrovic in one of the final seven games that decided Newcastle’s relegation fate, then only 11 starts in 46 Championship matches.

In the circumstances he finds himself in now, Richardson concedes that Rafa is now stuck with Mitrovic at least for the time being, with no other strikers at the club apart from Dwight Gayle with injury/fitness worries.

Certainly, if Mike Ashley doesn’t allow Rafa Benitez to bring in a striker in the very near future, it will be a massive cause for concern.

Sports correspondent (and Newcastle fan) John Richardson:

“Been saying all summer that Rafa Benitez has become increasingly frustrated at Newcastle United over the transfer policy. He is now at breaking point.

“Ready to walk…unless he brings in the players he wants.

“Spoke to him at length after the recent Preston friendly.

“Rafa can’t believe Mitro is still there.”

Fan asks ‘You think he still wants to sell his only fit striker before we can even buy a replacement?!’

“Not at the moment no but he doesn’t fancy him at all.”



  • Leazes Ender

    The owner has positioned Charnley’s squad at fifteenth…… I didn’t expect that I thought he’d go for tenth as usual, even at tenth we fall into the relegation scrap.

    • Paul Greener

      You’ve got evidence to back up how you know what finishing position Ashley has predicted?

      • Paul Patterson

        Yes, apparently he uses Transfermarkt..

        • Paul Greener

          Ahh well at least hes not daft enough as some fans expecting a top 8 finish like some trolls i read on here. ;-)

          • TheFatController

            If I think top 5 does that make me a troll?

            Great. Top 5 is my prediction. Top 3 without injuries.

            Call me other names. It’s like school and I like to feel young again…

          • Mark Davies

            As much Id very much like you to be right, I think touched not troll is more apt with those predictions haha

          • Jezza

            No it just means you’re holding the league table upside down.

      • Leazes Ender

        Transfermarkt squad value evaluation…..fifteenth.

        • Mark Davies

          Just as a thought mr oracle of football, what did your prescious transfermarkt value leicester at the year they won the league? Im just going to take a wild guess and say not first.

          • Paul Patterson

            If the Managing Director at Southampton went to the club owner and stated that he’d accepted a bid from Virgil Van Djik and it was his current value on Transfermarkt, the MD would be swiftly sacked. In other words it means very little.

          • Leazes Ender

            About £60m more than we are worth now…..

            ………normal service was resumed was it not?

  • MadMag83

    Mitrovic will be here until at least January. Even if he does manage to bring in another striker before September, we would still need to keep hold of Mitrovic given the injury problems Gayle has and the lack of a suitable replacement.

  • Lord

    The press smell blood….

  • shortydave

    You sure you haven’t mixed this guy up with John Richardson the comedian .. what a load of old tosh ..

    • Leazes Ender

      Its Jon Richardson bobbi

      • shortydave

        gee, thanks for that Columbo, my sarcastic remark still holds though

        • Leazes Ender

          Pleasure.

      • Mark Potter

        It’s definitely John Richardson. He’s a journalist with the Sunday Express. Complete [email protected]#t, working for a completely s%&t paper. He’s got nothing to do with the club.

  • Mxpx

    I’m more disappointed Ashley is still there not mitrovic still if rafa walks thats a fast track back to the championship

    • Kneebotherm8

      Pardew’s free,he’ll step in no problem.

  • Dutch

    Wish this ridiculous story would go away. Utter total scaremongering rubbish.

    • Leazes Ender

      No it isn’t.

      • Dutch

        Leaders Ender. Your just as bad.

        • Leazes Ender

          You’re just as bad.

          • TheFatController

            Every day Ashley and Charnley are still at the club, I shall remind you of you impotency LE….

            They’re still at the club. Still not listening to you …

          • MichaelMaximusMoose

            they`re not listening to Rafa either

          • Paul Patterson

            I think the fact that his profile slogan is and I quote ‘A lifelong fan of the worst football club in history’ speaks volumes . .

          • Leazes Ender

            Yes it does

    • Lhc

      Choosing to keep your head in the sand

  • Soldier

    Rafa will walk if he keeps getting messed about by Ashley, there’s little doubt in my mind he could well be at breaking point

    • Kneebotherm8

      He looked to be at breaking point in January,as we all saw he was patently shocked at the nil transfer activity,and had obviously been promised something he never got. Ashley is testing him again in this window.

  • Rich Lawson

    So if this bloke really has Rafa’s ear and is being used as a 3rd party conduit for unhappiness can he just not say who the targets were and exactly why the transfers didn’t go thro’ instead of more pot stirring ?

  • mentalman

    Is there any actual proof that we aren’t trying to buy rafa’s targets

    • Leazes Ender

      Lack of quality signings.

      • mentalman

        So we aren’t going for any of rafa’s targets so whose targets are we going for and who identified the players we have already bought?

        we don’t know who rafa is asking for so we don’t know who they are trying to buy for him.

        If every player rafa has identified says no then we aren’t going to sign any of them are we

        • Leazes Ender

          Two guesses.

      • Mark Potter

        Even if all five of Lejeune, Medino, Atsu etc aren’t “quality signings”, then that hardly proves your point. Rafa also bought Sels, Gamez, Hanley, Lazaar. No manager can get it right all of the time.

    • MichaelMaximusMoose

      thats a daft question

    • Jezza

      I think the fact that Rafa has been reduced to scouring the bargain basement for loan deals, untried youngsters, players unable to get a game and Sunderland rejects is pretty compelling evidence.

  • Anita kick up the Hoop

    Shocking reporting .. if he’s a “friend” of Raffa’s then this is disgusting

    • Keeganontherebound

      Agreed. Can’t see how it helps to publicly slate Mitrovic and can’t see Rafa being happy with this. Regardless of what you think of Mitro we need him right now and this sort of talk won’t do his confidence any good. Either this journo is making things up or he’s sharing things Rafa said to him in confidence. Doesn’t sound like much of a friend or much of a supporter to me…

      • Mark Potter

        He’s definitely not a supporter. He works for the Express and sometimes appears on Sky. He has absolutely no associations with the club and said during our last season in the Premiership,

        “That club to me, like Sunderland, like Aston Villa, is just rotten and they need big changes and they all deserve to go down.”

        Well, actually… Maybe he’s one of mickey moose’s mates?

    • Steve Smith

      Best case scenario it scares the purse strings into being looser.

      Worst case scenario Rafa has deniability over the conversation ever happening.

      • Seanken

        Probably not a lot of fun to hear your manager say he doesn’t rate you at all via some bloke on twitter

        • Kneebotherm8

          Mitro doesn’t need anyone to tell him that his manager doesn’t rate him that much. Team selection since Rafa has been at the club tells Mitro that he doesn’t rate him that highly. A player who was 34 years old was getting,at times,picked in front of him and he’s been offloaded.

  • Brian Standen

    Beginning of a new season is on us, we have looked ok pre season , and for sure there is disappointment at perceived lack of transfer activity!
    Is Rafa really ready to walk? I don’t know him, do any of us, is there substance or is it scaremongering? All I know is I can’t wait for Sunday where I fully expect a ramped up SJP to give it everything!
    Historically Spurs have been known to struggle here so why can’t we go beat them!
    Be a slap in the face for the negative among us as well!

    • Dutch

      Well said Brian

      • Brian Standen

        I just say it as I see it, I have no doubt a certain someone will jump on me accusing me of this and that – but hey I love football and this is my team and I can’t wait for Sunday!
        For the record in my opinion if Rafa was going to walk he would have long before now!
        I have absolute trust in what he does!

        • Mark Davies

          Very well put sir!

        • Damon Horner

          Agreed just deal in facts. Rafa’s still here and we haven’t lost a game yet!

    • MichaelMaximusMoose

      Managers use hacks to get the message to scum like Fatso, if they`ve been friends for 30yrs rest assured Rafa would have known all about it

      • Brian Standen

        If Rafa was down his negativity would soon spread amongst the players – all I see is a very eager team and cracking team spirit!
        Only negative thing I detect is the conspiracy theories related to some on here and in the wider world!
        Ok we are bored with Neymar now, we need something else to fill the pages – ah yes Rafe and NUFC, that will do nicely!
        Can we not just look forward to going toe to toe with Sours?

        • MichaelMaximusMoose

          there is no conspiracy just facts and they say Rafa isn’t getting what he was led to believe he was getting

          • Kneebotherm8

            It’s obvious to a blind man that Rafa isn’t getting what he was led to believe he was getting. He was totally pssd off after the January transfer window debacle,and this window is little,if any,better. He’ll not be the first quality popular manager we’ve had,that Ashley forced out the door a la Keegan and Hughton.Rafa’s remit is complete,getting us promoted,and has probably served his purpose with Ashley,he’s now in all probability dispensable.

          • Brian Standen

            How can YOU or anyone else know definitively what Rafa was promised?
            I don’t doubt things are not where he and us want them to be but it’s all unsettling speculation!
            Hey, if Rafa walks I will hold my hands up and say I was wrong, but right now I can’t wait for Sunday!

          • Jezza

            The promises made to Rafa were publicly revealed in an official club statement on 18th May.

          • Brian Standen

            Yes but no definitive figures

          • Jezza

            Maybe so but after that statement I don’t think anybody expected it to be a mere £10 million net.

          • Peter Stabler

            The transfer window hasn’t shut yet – fact!

          • Jezza

            True but precedent shows that since Ashley took over the club NUFC have made very few player purchases in the latter stages of transfer windows. Ashey much prefers last minute sales when it’s too late to re-invest the money.

          • Peter Stabler

            I’m not here to defend the Fat man but I will live in hope until the window shuts then i’ll decide what to do about it. I’m going to get misery but less than a few on here.

    • Steve Smith

      Of course if we win then the choice to keep the squad weak is vindicated.

      Bittersweet really.

      • Brian Standen

        How weak is the squad really? I take your point but I’m not convinced we are as weak as people think – centre forward definitely we do need and I’m sure we will get!

        • Steve Smith

          Strong enough for 16th, weak enough that a couple dodgey refereeing decisions or injuries/suspensions to key positions is going to make for uncomfortable viewing.

        • Mal

          I really hope you’re right about the striker because he’s definitely needed. We won’t get through the season with just Gayle and Mitro. Even if we manage to get someone in I think we need to keep Mitro. We need another specialist full back as well, but that doesn’t seem to be a priority.

  • anyobrien

    I hope he goes I’m sick of hearing aboot it…. Ffs the media have drained the life out of me.
    And once he’s gone that’s me gone.

    • Peter Stabler

      Take no notice of these idiots stealing their wages. Keep the faith!

  • jack

    Maybe Ashley is trying to force Rafa to Resign , underhandedly , maybe he’s realised he has given him too much power , hence the lack of quality signings , I wouldn’t put it past this regime to do something like that , 17 million net spend is ridiculous , and all the promises seem empty , I can see us really struggling and fighting a relegation battle once again , but it will be without Rafa , it’s less than a week to our first game , and people had a right to worry when it took ten weeks to get lejeune into the club , all these people on here who said its early days in the transfer window and not to worry , god’s sake do you not know Ashley by now ,

    • Hughie_Gallacher

      Interesting theory. Ashley would certainly feel more comfortable with Pardew back at the helm.

      • Jezza

        That is the very crux of the matter. Ashley has had his perfect replacement for Rafa lined up since 22nd December last year.

        • Kneebotherm8

          Could history repeat itself with Pardew coming in to replace fans favourite Rafa,just as he did with fans favourite Chris Hughton.

          • Jezza

            Watch this space.

      • Toonrobbybobson

        Would be the last straw for many. Rafa leaving would be the straw that broke the camels back.

  • Steve Pearce

    Thank God the new season is just a few days away! For we can concentrate on the football instead of all this negativity and false news, Spurs, even though they finished second haven’t signed anyone yet and I bet the London papers and fan sites are full of moaning, dire warnings and gnashing of the few teeth that their supporters have left…

    • Brian Standen

      Well said indeed , wish all the doom and gloom merchants would give it a rest until after the season starts.
      Hey if your not happy loads of empty seats down the road!
      We all know that things are not where people expected but it is what it is and the squad seems to have good team spirit – bring on Spurs

      • TheFatController

        I don’t mind the doom And gloom merchants not resting so Long as they instead give their abuse to Ashley and Charnley

        It’s their attacks on any fan with the ability to accept that things aren’t perfect but accepting that til Ashley makes ownership a democracy he ain’t going anywhere

        Thus the flag and scarf wavers I think do a great job of making the club look an attractive investment/ proposition to the millions watching abroad

        The more people like what they see of the club the more they will
        Support us and that will make us attractive to potential new owners and their investors/sponsors

        The flag and scarve wavers also keep Rafa enthused. Yet we have certain posters on here mocking them. And they want Ashley out also??

        persistent negativity that does nothing to affect Ashley or Charnley whilst mocking decent fans with scarves and flags would soon see investors ripping up their cheques, I would wager – who’d want to invest £0.5bn in a bunch of moaning fans who turn on each other rather than address the problem head on ? Financial suicide

        So here’s to the flag and scarf wavers. Keeping it positive

        • Brian Standen

          Fair point indeed

        • Toonrobbybobson

          Have to agree. Best way to get rid of Ashley is for the club to be successful and look attractive. Can understand why but we’ve become a right bunch of miserable moaners. Im thankful we are back in the prem and just going to enjoy it for what it is. Also think our squad isnt as bad as some make out and that team spirit that is much better will take us further under a manager who actually knows what hes doing.

      • Steve Pearce

        Aye Brian – its like the traveler who has just crossed the killer desert who at last smells the water of the nearby oasis. He is now full of life and knows that painful trek through the wilderness is over. But down the road they’ve had their water cut off….

    • Leazes Ender

      I don’t think spuds are going to be in a relegation dog fight somehow.

      • Brian Standen

        I agree but they still bought nobody and they need to improve to challenge!
        Daniel Levy summed it up when he said the spending is unsustainable

  • Julia Kyle

    This is such a load of spurious ‘my dad’s mate said’ bunk. 😂

  • HenrySlade

    I think that story has a lot of credibility. Rafa has a long history of using his favourite journalists to put out stories like this, alert fans to what’s going on and put pressure on club owners.

    If there’s no movement on the transfer front this week and we lose against Spurs on Sunday, I reckon we’ll be in a ‘Rafa to walk out’ crisis by this time next week.

    • Mark Potter

      This is a credible story by the journalist who revealed in 2015 that Gareth Bale’s transfer to Man Utd was “a done deal”.

      • HenrySlade

        That’s completely irrelevant. A journalist who just happens to be a close friend of Rafa Benitez wouldn’t print something about him that wasn’t true.

        • Stephen Paylor

          If he is a ‘friend of Rafa’ he also wouldnt throw him under the bus criticizing Mitro our only fit striker less than a week before the season opener.

          • HenrySlade

            He didn’t criticise Mitro – he said that Rafa couldn’t believe that he hadn’t been sold. And that’s in the context of the fact that the club have put Mitro up for sale, which is why his agent was negotiating with a Turkish club a few weeks ago. Rafa wants him out of the club because, in Rafa’s opinion, he isn’t good enough for the Premier League, and he wants to use the funds raised to purchase another striker.

            All of that is common knowledge, so the journalist hasn’t printed anything too unexpected.

  • nevfur

    Like a manager would tell a journalist that about one of his own players. Hmmm

  • David2211

    I get the feeling so many of our fans are desperate for Rafa to go for that moment of satisfaction in simply saying “told you so”.
    Sick and tired of it.

  • 1957

    If this story is true, and no one apart from Benitez and Richardson knows, making Benitez thoughts public it isn’t going to do a lot for the mindset of the Mitrovic who seems to be our only fit striker at the moment whatever his shortcomings.

    If he feels that way Benitez needs to do a Keegan or stop playing games through press and get on with it, I somehow doubt he is as principled as Kevin, to my knowledge he never quits instead waiting to be sacked.

  • Patriot 001

    I cringe every time the deluded at St James, stand up and chant ‘Mitro” when that donkey comes on. He has been a total failure, and if you don’t agree have a look at his stats.I remember real players at St James, top players that this clown would not have been fit to clean their boots.

    • Lhc

      If it wasn’t for ‘mitro’ it would have been 7 in a row, the lad comes under so much unfair stick

      • Jezza

        More importantly if it wasn’t for Ashley’s transfer policy and general running of the club the 6 in a row would never have happened in the first place.

        • Lhc

          Got to disagree with you here, on paper we had much better sides Man for man.6 in a row should never of happened but I wouldn’t put that down to Ashley. Players bottled it etc. But that’s fine now. Anyway I just think he comes under to much unjust criticism. Not nice to hear.

          • Lhc

            *But that’s gone now.*

    • Toonrobbybobson

      I like all wanted to see Mitro to do well and like all would love to be shocked snd see him come good but its unlikely. Realistically… hes a moron. He doesnt think when on the pitch and used his enthusiasm to get so far which is fair enough. But the levels hes at now are a long way away where you need brains, bit extra skill, endurance and speed. Hes more interested in battling than what his job is and its bringing others into play, assisting or more necessary reliable goal finishing. Hes a long way from a finished article but woll he ever get there? We cant afford that luxury. He should have played in Italy for a few years before the prem and grown up. Sadly its just in him. Would love to be proved wrong but hes not our answer. Hes on a stupid salary for a stupid fee and we wont be able to shift him I reckon but for all parties I think it be best he went and moved on to build his career.

      • Mike Adam

        Third on the team in assists last season, behind Ritchie and Shelvey in a third of the playing time, to me not bad. Did he score often, no! Looks like he may get another chance to prove people wrong. Let’s see, you never know he is only 22! In addition, the people not giving him credit for only receiving 3 yellows and “zero” reds last season are not being fair, he is maturing. Even Clarko could not argue that, the stats prove it.

        • Toonrobbybobson

          Stats can be turned all ways :-) less game time means less chance of getting fired up in games. Championship is also more rough and tumble than premier league.

          • Mike Adam

            So you helped prove my point, if the Championship is more rough and tumble then he matured some only receiving 3 yellows and no reds. Game time is game time, remember in his first season in the PL it didn’t take him many minutes to get that first red. Also, you can’t turn his assist stats all ways, he was third on the team behind Ritchie and Shelvey, that is a fact. Let’s just hope for OUR TEAM’S sake that if he gets to play he does well, whether you love him or hate him. HOWAY THE LADS!!!

      • Lhc

        He’s a moron?! …..I’ve heard it all now! Because he has a lot of passion in your opinion he’s a ‘moron’, what a snobby comment!!

        • Toonrobbybobson

          Bo hes a moron because he is. Not because he has passion.

          He gets involved more with rival players than concentrating on the football. He even says it himself and hes done it all his life. Nothing to do with snobby!

          Hes not clever enough on the pitch. No amount of time is going to change that.

          Should never have been bought by the club.

          • Lhc

            He’s been sent off once since he arrived for a unintentional high tackle, do you not think even Alan shearer didn’t used to wind defenders up, Have 90 minute battles with them ,Throw the odd sly elbow about. If mitrovic had a shearer Lennon style incident the lad would be persecuted! The lad needs some slack cut cause its all blown out of proportion like he’s some sort of Serbian phycopath!! Yes he has some edge about him and that’s a gd thing.

  • Fastnet

    Got the rabble roused again
    A load of bull****
    Nowt else to say try and move on

  • Andy Mac

    I dont think he’ll walk but he’ll be happy to shake the hornet’s nest until Fatman sacks him and he gets the compo ?

  • Buck Blacket

    I’m starting to think THE MAG is run by a mackem “fifth columnist”!

    • Leazes Ender

      I checked out your posts and have come to the conclusion that you are the poster Wor Mongo AKA Kev or fleckmans younger bro… Tory boy kiss Ashleys posterior.

      • Buck Blacket

        What are you talking about? What posts would they be? Justify your allegation otherwise I am starting to think you are one of THE MAG’S “fifth columnists”!

      • Buck Blacket

        Oh yeah, notice I have nothing to hide by having an open profile, unlike you! LOL

  • Toon fan

    The worst article on the Mag this summer. Outrageous and conjecture. Believe what you want but I reject nonsense out of hand.

    • Leazes Ender

      Me too….. I’m blocking you.

  • Steve Pearce

    “Mag reader is at breaking point and can’t wait for the season to start.”

    • Leazes Ender

      Is it you…..wave your scarf then.

      • Toon fan

        Ok Ande. I didn’t know that was possible on here, I wish I’d known earlier.

  • NICK ANDERSON

    This transfer window is becoming a farce with all these asking prices and greedy agents taking the top of the cream cake.Its not just like saying ” I want him and I want him” Still there is a few weeks left,also who wants to buy our deadwood!

  • Al Devon

    I think two things are affecting our ability to bring in new players. One is that we already have 7 senior players over the 25 allowed and until at least half of them go we cant bring in more regardless of fee or wages. The 2nd is the recent raid by HMRC that not only made Charnley appear dodgy, but has probably seriously changed how Ashley views agents and their fee’s. I think we have the funds to buy decent players and we have already bought a couple. But I honestly dont think its Ashley penny pinching as such, more Charnley’s ability to buy and sell at the same time – i.e different directions

  • Toonrobbybobson

    Another note… football is a big bubble. At some stage its going to pop. The football TV deal gravy train will have a financial correction it doesnt add up.

  • Buck Blacket

    We need to scrutinise Leazes Ender’s posts because whoever that is, he/she has an agenda with this we site!