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Journalist close to Rafa Benitez warns of January nightmare scenario

4 years ago

A journalist close to Rafa Benitez has warned of a disaster waiting to happen at Newcastle United.

John Richardson has covered football for the national newspapers for 30 years and is also for his sins, a Newcastle fan.

Earlier this year he gave a number of warnings as Mike Ashley failed to back his manager.

Rafa Benitez was blocked from making any signings in January and made his displeasure known, then did the same when he lined up a number of early summer signings such as Tammy Abraham, only for once again the club fail to sign them.

Only six days before the season kicked off, John Richardson revealed that he’d had a long chat with Rafa Benitez after the pre-season match with Preston and the United boss had revealed his concerns about the lack of backing in the transfer market.

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez has told the St James’ Park hierarchy to back him in the January transfer window, or risk a second relegation in three years.

Richardson saying that Rafa ‘was at breaking point’ and ‘ready to walk, adding that the manager ‘can’t believe Mitrovic is still there’, the implication being that the Newcastle hierarchy hadn’t been willing to sell him at a realistic price, adding to Benitez’ problems in trying to bring in players that he wants.

John Richardson has proved spot on in what he related about Rafa’s low opinion of Mitrovic, even though Newcastle have increasingly struggled up front, yesterday at Old Trafford was only the third time he had got on the pitch in the Premier League this season, the 19 minutes against Man Utd making it only 49 in total all season.

When the summer transfer window closed and only an £11.5m net transfer spend (compared with £40m+ for both Brighton and Huddersfield), Richardson repeated his warning ‘Can’t say you weren’t warned. Rafa Benitez disgusted at the lack of transfer action. He will leave when it’s right to do so on his terms’.

The January transfer window opens six weeks tomorrow and once again John Richardson has given a further warning that Rafa Benitez can’t be pushed any further.

Writing in The Mirror and via his own Twitter account, he has spelled out that Newcastle United are in a precarious position.

John Richardson writing in The Mirror:

‘The Spaniard is still fuming at the lack of support in the summer ­window, which saw him scrambling in the bargain basement for players such as £5million Joselu from Stoke.

There is considerable interest from a number of parties (in buying Newcastle), but it seems ­unlikely that any final deal will be ­formalised before the critical January window.

That would leave Ashley still in control of the transfer funds and, with a sale imminent, ­reluctant to splash the cash.

But Benitez, who has drawn up a list of possible signings, has warned that a lack of quality coming through the Tyneside door would leave the Geordies vulnerable to relegation.

A drop into the Championship would also cost Ashley, if no sale had been clinched before then, as the club would be worth less than in the highly lucrative Premier League.’

It was always a tough set of fixtures coming up with 11 games in 44 days starting with yesterday’s match at Old Trafford.

With three defeats in a row, yesterday made clear that whilst some players such as Shelvey and Gayle suggested they will be able to make a positive impact in the months ahead, we were once again reminded that we have a serious number of players who aren’t anywhere near that level.

If Newcastle did get dragged into a relegation scrap by the end of December, then difficult to see how the club would be valued quite as highly by a potential buyer, if there is a chance of the drop.

As John Richardson points out, there is a real worry amongst fans (and allegedly Rafa Benitez) about what happens with transfers in January if Ashley is still in control.

A sale really can’t come quick enough and the possibility of one not happening at all, just doesn’t bear thinking about.

John Richardson via Twitter – 18 November 2017:

“Not saying Rafa will walk.

“He will though have his say on what he perceives as managing on the back of broken promises.

“He knows the difference a decent striker would make.

“This is what happens when you are not backed in the transfer market.

“A predictable defeat for Newcastle United.

“Rest assured, Rafa Benitez will not put up with a repeat in January.”

The Mag – 1 September (after summer transfer window closes):

John Richardson:

“Can’t say you weren’t warned. Rafa Benitez disgusted at the lack of transfer action. He will leave when it’s right to do so on his terms.”

The Mag – 7 August 2017:

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.”


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