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Sky Sports presenter releases personal statement on ‘Rafa Benitez joining West Ham’ story

5 years ago

Sky Sports presenter Pete Graves has felt compelled to release his own personal statement on the rumours surrounding the future of Rafa Benitez.

Pete Graves happens also to be a big Newcastle United fan and admits to feeling hurt after receiving personal criticism for covering the story on Sky Sports.

Following Newcastle’s 3-0 win over the Hammers, Sky Sports reported that a high up source at West Ham had said the position of Slaven Bilic was under threat due to no points after three matches and the dismal nature of the defeat at St James Park.

The reports also said that West Ham remained big admirers of Rafa Benitez and Sky revealed that the Newcastle manager has a buyout clause, with that figure somewhere over £5m.

Using Facebook, Pete Graves explained (see below) exactly why he thinks Rafa Benitez ‘would have to consider any approach from the Hammers if it should ever materialise’.

However, he also says Rafa’s ‘Love for the fans is so strong that I believe it could be enough to make him stay’.

Pete Graves urges Mike Ashley to fully back his manager and says that if he (Graves) was owner of NUFC he’d be ‘Giving Rafa Benitez everything he wants’.

Criticising the Sky Sports presenter simply because of who he works for and for doing his job is a bit lame from certain Newcastle supporters

Pete Graves on Facebook:

“There’s something that’s worried me since the day Rafa Benitez arrived at Newcastle United. Something that has always been at the back of my mind.

“A nagging fear that one day a certain club might come in for him, and believe it or not – that club was West Ham.

“My heart sank a little last (Saturday) night. The news reached us at Sky Sports News that West Ham were considering the future of Slaven Bilic and that indeed Rafa Benitez would be top of their potential list of suitors. Furthermore they were aware there was a clause, a fairly significant one (more than £5m) but ultimately a way to effectively buy Rafa Benitez out of Newcastle United.

“But why are West Ham the club that I’ve feared so long?? Why did I not blink when the links with China and even Arsenal were reported in the national press? Well the reason is, because Rafa has always maintained privately that he feels indebted to West Ham and would have to consider any approach from the Hammers if it should ever materialise and here’s why;

“In 2015 Benitez was on the brink of becoming West Ham’s manager. He’d spoken to the owners and was planning for life at Upton Park. However at the eleventh hour Real Madrid offered him the opportunity to move to the Bernabeu and it was too good an offer to turn down.

“What impressed Rafa so much was the way the West Ham board accepted his decision. They understood that the opportunity to manage Real Madrid was too much for a Spanish manager to disregard and they gave Rafa their blessing and subsequently appointed Slaven Bilic. The rest as they say is history and now we are where we are…Bilic on the brink and Rafa in their thoughts.

“Now let’s throw into the mix that Rafa has grown increasingly frustrated at NUFC this summer. He wanted more investment and he’s stood and watched while even fellow ‘promotees’ Brighton and Huddersfield have spent significantly more. Meanwhile West Ham have signed Joe Hart (a player Rafa wanted) and submitted a bid of close to £40m for William Carvalho (another Rafa target). Let that sink in…A 40 million pound bid for ONE player, that’s more than Newcastle have spent on six new arrivals so far. That’s financial muscle.

“Only this week Rafa said that he no longer viewed NUFC as a long term project…Not my words, the words of the manager, whilst he’s also said he’s “signing the players he can, not the ones he wants”. Needless to say the positivity of last seasons’s promotion has disintegrated. And Rafa is clearly frustrated AND not afraid to tell the world.

“Now let’s consider West Ham as a long term project. They have the Olympic Stadium, they are based in London, in my opinion with the right manager at the helm they could be challenging the ‘big boys’ in the next 3-5 years both on and off the pitch. It’s am attractive proposition on paper.

“Now, from a personal point of view, I was gutted to be roundly criticised by lots of fellow NUFC fans for reporting the story both on air and online last (Saturday) night. Let me say there’s absolutely no agenda from me, so to be accused of stirring things up or creating stories to disrupt the club is absolutely ridiculous.

“I love Newcastle United and I have done all my life. As a family we’ve still got our season tickets and I travel home and away as often as I can. Not in the press box but with the fans…I pay for my tickets, I write a column in the Newcastle United program and let me clear this up once and for all, I receive no money for this column at all and am not ‘on the payroll’ as has been thrown at me in the past.

“I fully understand that rumours of other clubs circling are not easy to stomach…I know this because I feel exactly the same, but sadly this story has legs and as someone who works as a sports reporter, but is also actively aware that the majority of my ‘followers’ etc are Newcastle fans, I felt it was my duty to keep you informed with the very latest concerning our manager. Although I’m sorry that in this instance the news was slightly concerning.

“Finally this is anything but a done deal and there is still a massive reason why Rafa Benitez could very well stay at Newcastle United for years to come and continue to fight for the club…and that reason is quite simply you lot, the fans. Rafa Benitez could manage for the next one thousand years and he’ll never receive the adoration that he currently receives on Tyneside. He knows that and his family knows that!

“He can walk on water in Newcastle and rightly so! Subsequently it would really hurt him to walk away from those loyal Geordie supporters that he’s grown so fond of and this will be forefront in his thinking. His love for the fans is so strong that I believe it could be enough to make him stay, but he needs more support financially. Yesterday’s brilliant 3-0 win (over West Ham) and the atmosphere in the ground will also help!

“As we stand today, Slaven Bilic remains West Ham manager and Rafa Benitez very much the manager of Newcastle United. However if I was the owner of Newcastle I’d be giving Rafa Benitez everything he wants starting with more financial muscle in the remaining days of the transfer window. However sadly I’m not.

“Thoughts welcome. HWTL.”


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