The benefits of having an intelligent and experienced manager such as Rafa Benitez, are once again showing through.
The on the pitch ones are obvious, trying to get the best out of a group of players who as individuals maybe aren’t quite up to what Newcastle needed on their return to the Premier League.
Nevertheless, Rafa Benitez having them sitting on 14 points from 12 games, with only really the second half at Old Trafford seeing the opposition run away a game this season.
As well as dealing with playing matters, Rafa has also of course had to deal with Mike Ashley. The owner undermining the manager’s efforts in the summer transfer market, plus the likes Ashley’s Sky Sports interview in August and putting the club up for sale during the season, are hardly the actions of an owner pushing for stability at the football club.
Yet again Rafa Benitez has been quizzed on a potential NUFC takeover, as he prepares his team to take on Watford.
The United boss once again using that intelligence and experience to keep a lid of things, as he tries to manage the club, and the Newcastle fans, whilst the takeover lurches along (forward, hopefully) in the background.
Rafa Benitez replies after being asked if he had two different lists of January transfers (and beyond) depending on whether a takeover happens:
“January is always quite difficult and we don’t know about how much money we will have yet.
“For now, we are just looking for good players, those that are better or different than what we have.
“Even with a new owner it won’t change because of financial fair play rules.”
Rafa then also asked if he would still be at St Jams Park in a year’s time if a takeover didn’t happen:
“I think so.
“I am quite happy with this group of players and they are improving, they are learning.
“So I think so – I don’t see any difficulty now, just for me it is a challenge.
“I was disappointed after the summer? Yes.
“But still this is a chance for me.”
With both questions I think Rafa is playing very clever because he knows there is nothing to be gained from answering them 100% truthfully.
On transfers, FFP (Financial Fair Play) certainly plays a part but there is massive leeway between new owners committing realistic spending over and above what Mike Ashley would/will allow, and the daft newspaper ‘exclusive’ claiming Rafa Benitez would have £500m to spend if a takeover happens.
Spending half a billion with Newcastle United’s current revenues would smash FFP rules, spending tens of millions more than Ashley would allow, wouldn’t.
As for whether he will be here this time next year?
Rafa Benitez knows that this is a loaded question. If he had indicated he could/would leave if no takeover, then that would have been all the headlines this morning ahead of a crucial match with Watford. Not helping anybody, apart from the visitors.
What he may be saying behind the scenes might be totally different. Saying in public that he could/would leave might appear to be putting some pressure on Mike Ashley (and give Rafa possibly some short-term pleasure) but as we have seen in the past, it doesn’t normally end up a positive after somebody challenges the owner so blatantly.
It would be a major surprise if West Ham hadn’t sounded Rafa Benitez out before laughably turning to David Moyes.
The chance of a takeover must surely have helped take away any chance of Rafa deciding on the Hammers as a better bet but if those hopes (of a takeover) are taken away, I certainly wouldn’t be betting on Rafa Benitez being happy with any future transfer windows if Mike Ashley remains in control, or placing any bets on the Spaniard still being here for the 2018 fireworks night.
This Newcastle United takeover is a pivotal moment for both Newcastle fans and Rafa Benitez’ future career. The two things so tightly entwined and none of us wanting to think about the fallout if club ownership doesn’t change.