Newcastle United have confirmed on Tuesday morning that Rafa Benitez is back.
The United boss returning to the training ground as he prepares his team to face Stoke City on Saturday and a potential third win in a row…
On Monday there had been media reports claiming Rafa Benitez had travelled to Tyneside from his home in the north west – but good to get official confirmation that he is back in position.
Assistant manager Paco was in charge of training throughout last week and the man on the ground on Sunday as he guided Newcastle to their first away win of the season.
Rafa Benitez surely couldn’t have been happier, leaving aside the after effects of his surgery that prevented him being at the Liberty Stadium (see below), as he watched from his sofa/sickbed as his team dominated Swansea and came away with three points.
Stoke City impressed at the weekend against early league leaders Manchester United and will arguably be Newcastle’s toughest test since the opening day defeat by Tottenham.
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) September 12, 2017
The Mag – 10 September 2017:
Newcastle United have now confirmed that Rafa Benitez is too ill to make the Swansea match.
It had been reported (see below) that he would be travelling by helicopter to the match but even that has not been possible.
Paco, Rafa’s assistant, has taken training this week and he will be the main man at Swansea today.
Newcastle United official announcement:
“We can confirm that Rafa Benítez will not be at the Liberty Stadium today as he recovers from an operation.
“The team will be led by Rafa’s coaching staff, who will be in contact with the manager throughout matchday.”
The Mag – Earlier today (Sunday 10 September):
Mike Ashley has once again shown that he has no intention of doing things in any kind of a normal way where Newcastle United are concerned.
Throughout the summer the Newcastle players have been trying to get the club to agree a bonus scheme for this season, in line with what other Premier League clubs are offering.
Refusing to pay the market rate (usual story!!), Mike Ashley and his minions have let the situation rot into the playing season.
The Shields Gazette revealed last month the current offer the club have put on the table, would mean that each player will receive less than the average week’s wages if they keep Newcastle United in the Premier League by finishing 17th.
The newspaper reporting that the players would share £1m and with a 25 man senior squad, that would work out at £40,000 each, at the most. The likes of Freddie Woodman and Mikel Merino qualify as Under 21 players, so when the 25 man Newcastle United Premier League squad was announced, that pair are additional. Each additional position above 17th would see another £1m added to the bonus pot.
Each extra Premier League position sees a club given £1.9m more from the end of season PL TV payout, so if you finish bottom you get £1.9m and if say you end up 17th, a club receives £7.6m.
So if the Newcastle players agreed to the offer, it is obviously a win-win for Mike Ashley if NUFC for example ended up 17th instead of 20th – 20th would equal £1.9m to NUFC/Ashley and no bonus to the players, whilst 17th would give NUFC/Ashley £6.6m extra (£7.6m less £1m for the squad).
Yes it is ridiculous what players receive these days but it is false economy not to pay the market rate on bonuses, or else otherwise they are in reality not acting as…incentives.
On the eve of the Swansea match though, Sky Sports have revealed two things.
Firstly, that the players have requested a meeting with managing director Lee Charnley, as well as Mike Ashley if possible, to sit down and work out some kind of compromise, like a normal club would do..
Secondly, Sky Sports report that instead of doing this, Mike Ashley (via his PR flunkies) has told them he will ‘donate £20m to the players if they win the FA Cup this season’.
Only Ashley would do this – starve Rafa Benitez of a proper realistic budget (only £11.5m net spend compared to Brighton’s £48m and Huddersfield’s £43m) to try and build a squad capable of staying in the Premier League, then come out with such a crass PR message to try and benefit himself.
It is surely no coincidence that he does this once again on the eve of a Sky Sports televised match for maximum PR publicity for himself, just as the quotes from the ridiculous stage managed ‘interview’ with his Sky associate David Craig (‘Craigie’) were released in the 48 hours before the Spurs game – the full ‘interview’ screened only hours after the final whistle.
In that shambles of an ‘interview’, Mike Ashley said not a penny more he would put into the club and that he had no cash to put in anyway as his wealth was only on paper (despite him continuing to do business investment after investment elsewhere and continue to starve NUFC of funds by Sports Direct still not paying anything for the massive exposure they get via the club).
So instead of doing the right thing and coming to an agreement behind closed doors to help get the players incentivised to the max, Ashley instead does this £20m PR stunt for his own purposes, cash that he knows full well will never have to be paid (apparently he will also pay £200m if Newcastle win the Premier League this season, as well as £500m to any player who can win the Great North Run this morning and then also score a double hat-trick at Swansea).
The NUFC owner hasn’t given Rafa Benitez the support to build a squad to have the best chance of Premier League survival, never mind to deal with the diversion of a cup run.
The last couple of days had seen reports that if Rafa Benitez does make the Swansea match, it will be by helicopter rather than car, as he is still feeling unwell. As an aside, the PR campaign continued with Sky Sports running it as a news story, that it will be Mike Ashley’s own helicopter that will transport the Newcastle manager – I wonder how they found that out…
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