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.”

  • Leazes Ender

    I didn’t know about Rafa’s Wet Spam links….. what does HWTL stand for?

    • Geordie in Yorkshire

      Howay the lads! You could argue it should be ‘HTL’ but that’s maybe splitting hairs..

      • Billie.

        I don’t get after all this time why does Ashley not embrace our club. He’s doing this for kudos yes? Then why stop short, financially? Is he short?

        • Jezza

          Ashley is merely using our club to promote his core sweat shop business and to generate a bit of extra profit on the side by creaming off television money and incoming transfer fees.

          • Toonbadger

            And FREE advertising

          • Jezza

            Yes that’s what I meant by promoting hos core sweat shop business.

          • Oooh bobbi fleckman

            I think there are easier ways of making money, he’s still down on the deal.

        • Leazes Ender

          Embrace? I’d settle for him not embarrassing the club again and again.

      • Leazes Ender

        Its not splitting hairs at all………. its one word and without a meaningless apostrophe.

    • barry gyles

      Howay The lads

    • glassjawsh-got-banned

      it’s not on Transfermarkt?

    • anyobrien

      Really?…… Howay the lads

      • Geordiegiants

        Read the first letters

        • Leazes Ender

          Yup HTL

  • Thefootballerwhocouldfly

    Despite Rafa’s frustration & Ashley continuing to be a psychopath, Pete Graves is a journalist first & foremost, employed by Murdoch….

  • Kneebotherm8

    It is,quite obviously,only the fans that could keep Rafa at our club,and why would West Ham not be interested in him? Any half decent club/owner would be interested in a manager of his stature. They’d also back him if they were able to get him on board,unlike our lot who’ve pretty much undermined him since day one.

  • Soldier

    He won`t leave for West Ham but that doesn`t say he won`t leave

    • Danimal

      We had a manager poached by Crystal Palace recently. Do you understand how far down the food chain Mr Ashley has taken us?

      • Jimblag23

        No we didn’t, the fans hounded him out (rightly so).

        • Danimal

          Happy to see him go but he got poached. Fatty got a transfer fee. The manager got a better contract.

        • Paul Busby

          Probably a bit of column A and a bit of column B to be honest. He wasn’t wanted here and they wanted him, so they bought him out of his stupidly long contract.

  • Blackburn1066

    What a pile of Sh*t

    • anyobrien

      Haha great comments… Made me laugh 1066

  • Blackburn1066

    Rafa Loves it at the Toon and the only man that can end that is the little fat bag of Shi*e who owns the club. Lets all have a go at him never mind the players or the manager The Fat shop keeper is our big cloob! problem.

  • Waxi

    If he does go it will only be down to the fat man and not sky the fans or any one else. Would any other half decent manager accept the conditions he is expected to work under. Either tip up Mr Cashley or sell up.

  • teddybard

    Brilliant win it was not, a full physical assault for the first 30 mins, inept refereeing,
    and Mitrovic escaping a Red made the difference, but do not kid ourselves we are
    not a good team on the back of 1 result.

    • molend

      Mitrovic didn’t escape a red card. When I posted that Harry Kane should have been sent off, people said it was a fair challenge. Seriously, what did Mitrovic do?

      • Paul Busby

        Depends if the ref saw it as to whether there is retrospective action. Word on the street is that he did seem to see it and not think anything of it, so Mitro is free, but if you watch the replay you can see pretty blatant elbow to the face.

        • Geordiegiants

          This is one of the reasons Rafa wants him gone.

  • Steve Pearce

    Aye right – what a load of shyte!

    So how much are Sky paying you to belittle Rafa Benitez?

    Do you think a man of such dignity would even read this?

    Rafa Benitez is a Geordie – so get that through your thick southern skull!

    • Guest 2

      Graves is from Hexham, you numpty.

      • Wor Lass

        Southerners can be from anywhere – it`s a condition of the mind that can afflict anyone.

        • Guest 2

          Like the owner?

          • Wor Lass

            He`s a Southerner by any measure you could name.

          • Guest 2

            Because he reported on a story? Get a life man.

          • Wor Lass

            You mentioned “the owner” – that`s who I`m talking about. Do try and keep up!

          • Guest 2

            And you made the same assertion about the reporter to begin with. Keep up with yourself.

          • Wor Lass

            At risk of starting to sound like Clarko, I didn`t actually refer to the reporter. I think his article was fine, as a matter of fact.

          • Guest 2

            S Pearce response to article – “Rafa Benitez is a Geordie – so get that through your thick southern skull!”
            My comment – “Graves is from Hexham, you numpty.”
            You – “Southerners can be from anywhere – it`s a condition of the mind that can afflict anyone.”

            Like Clarko indeed.

          • Wor Lass

            Let`s take the Clarko analogy a bit further. Show me where I specifically refer to the journalist. I`ve made an off the cuff remark about “southerness” (if there is such a word) to bring a bit of humour into a discussion where you decided to insult someone. I then respond to your comment about the owner in a similar vein but you can`t let it go. Grow up, you prat.

          • Guest 2

            ‘Insult’ someone who was in fact denigrating a journo for being from the south, when he’s in fact a Geordie. I’d say calling him a numpty was therefore warranted.
            Numpty – ” Someone who (sometimes unwittingly) by speech or action demonstrates a lack of knowledge or misconception of a particular subject or situation to the amusement of others.”


  • molend

    Don’t give any credence to these people. It’s just the media, and, thank goodness, most of us sussed them out a long time ago.

  • Jimblag23

    Sounds like a drunk rant.

  • Toonrobbybobson

    If Ashley forces Rafa out god help him.

    However… I still think see out this season and a good chance Rafa will see Ashley off. A season up and the Toon are a seriously good opportunity for the right buyer. But at present its a risk most would overlook until they establish in the Prem again.

  • Mrkgw

    Hail the Rafalution. But, watch Ashley and his villainous regime – if they force the best Manager that we have had since SBR from the club then there will be mutiny.

    • FatParosite

      Yeah right…. Like all those other times when Ashley took the support for granted… & the happy clappers still turned up in doves… Mutiny… Don’t make me laugh…Those that still go are killing my club….

      • chris gray

        bullsh1t comment! p1ss off! Sit at home on your own, complain all you like about your dislike of the regime but don’t start having a go at those who go watch their team. Not everyone is of the same opinion as you. Stay or go is a personal choice and you have no right to question that. Imagine if everyone only went when everything was perfect at the club?! We’d be like blackburn or the boro. No doubt you lauded the fact that we got 50k fans in the championship though and i imagine you take every opportunity to ridicule the mackems for their low attendances?

        • Damon Horner

          Fair point of view. I can’t see why it would be of benefit to us. It just means “every penny generated” would be a lower total assuming we succeed in zero attendance.

  • Alreet

    Thoughts welcome!! Hows about sod off graves.

    You dont know rafa or mike or any of the upper level management. As per usuall lazy journo with an over inflated opinion.

    Jog on lad!

  • Biggs Darklighter

    So with the sale of De Jong this seasons net spend is down to £13m. Let that sink in!

  • Paul Busby

    Well I do hope nothing comes of all this. Rafa leaving would almost certainly result in a relegation we wouldn’t come back from until Ashley finally cut his losses and sold the club.

  • Geordiegiants

    Let’s hope Rafa feels our fans need him more.

  • Whitehurst

    Another s*** stirrer….within our own ranks!! Not the first….nor the last. As Rafa has his house “up north”….coupled with the love of the fans, should be enough to sway him to stay with us!! Certainly for the time being?! Ashley might however think otherwise?! 😬

    • Jezza

      This hack is definitely stirring it. I can’t see West Ham sacking Bilic just yet. Not when they have had the farcical situation of starting with three away games. They are bound to give him a couple of home games to try and turn it round.

      I’m not saying Rafa won’t leave after the deadline as a result of Ashley’s refusal to back him in the transfer market but suggestions of Rafa replacing Bilic at West Ham are very premature to say the least.

      • Leazes Ender

        Well he said that Rafa has had an interview with them, so they must be a contender for his services as he was willing to take the position at that point in time. Ashley is trying to drive Rafa out so its a distinct possibility that they would try for him before one of the top clubs sacks their incumbent.

      • Rich Lawson

        Our ”media partner” reports they will give Bilic at least the 3 home games they have coming up.They are probably about spent up now for this season especially with Carvalos rumoured to be coming in.I’d be more worried about the situation at Arsenal who could easily afford the buyout clause and offer significant transfer money,although this window will close to quickly now.Best bit about the article for me was that apparently Bilic has a meeting with the owners after every game to discuss how the match went,Hope Ashley reads our media partner (or gets the audio book !)

    • Leazes Ender

      The Wirral is nearer London than the Toon.

      • Jimblag23

        Liverpool to Newcastle is 180 miles, Liverpool to London is 220.
        Maybe there are quicker trains though?

        • MichaelMaximusMoose

          You beat Clarko to it

          • Jimblag23

            Haha I was actually intrigued so wanted to find out myself.

          • Geordiegiants

            Ha ha lol, I hope your not changing your name to Jim Clark.

        • 1957

          I think its about an hour quicker to London by train…

        • Jezza

          I don’t think Rafa travels by the Trans Pennine Express. He probable drives a very expensive, luxurious and fast car.

          • Leazes Ender

            He used it the last time he came up.

          • Jimblag23

            As they’re best friends, Tubby could lend him his helicopter.

          • Geordiegiants

            You would be surprised, Rafa drives a VW Touareg, so does Charnley. Charnley has just moved from his house on the great park, I know this as one of my pals lived a couple of doors away from him, and I see Rafa now and again going to and from the training ground.

          • Leazes Ender

            You know where Charnley lives?

          • Geordiegiants

            I don’t now, he only moved a couple of weeks ago, the press were all over his house after the tax scam, so I can only assume it’s because of that. It was only a rented property, my friend knows his ex landlord very well.

        • Leazes Ender

          Rafa uses the train so not if you use crossrail its an hour longer.

  • Steve Smith

    Almost sounds like this “nooooooocarrrrstle” fan wants Rafa to join West ‘am.

  • razorwine1

    Good luck my son hope he stays with you I don’t want fat boy rafa at my club jokanovic for me young and good cv no failures and plays the west ham way entertaining football

    • MichaelMaximusMoose

      Yip, you were really entertaining on Saturday, couldn`t stop laughing at the shyte you played

    • Leazes Ender

      Give us a chorus of ‘I’m forever blawing babbles’ ….. it cracks me up.

      • MichaelMaximusMoose


  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    Adidas got a sale on 25% off, just bought Real Madrid track top & the T-Shirt for me Hols
    the Moose knows who to support when abroad

    • Leazes Ender

      Obviously not.

  • Alan Pardew

    After the hurt of being sacked at West Ham by someone who did not know me, I wanted to come to work with people I trust.

  • Iron-Mod

    Although Rafa is a good manager, when West Ham get rid of Bilic (sooner the better now), they will be looking for a young long term manager, and will Rafa want a 5+ years contract? Maybe when he was younger, so I think you Geordies have nothing to worry about. Come on you Irons!