Stoke City are allegedly monitoring the Rafa Benitez situation at St James Park.
With Mark Hughes sacked and the Potters in the relegation zone, little wonder that they are looking for a decent manager.
With only 16 Premier League matches remaining, their stay in the top tier is looking in doubt.
Their local paper, The Stoke Sentinel, has reported the following:
‘Stoke’s hierarchy is also aware of continued murmurings about Rafa Benitez’s apparent unhappiness at Newcastle.
It was believed that Benitez would not even consider leaving Newcastle until seeing how much money he was allowed to spend by the end of the January transfer window.
But stories continue to seep out of Tyneside about his evident fury behind the scenes at not getting his way on spending while a club takeover drags on.’
Well, we have our problems on Tyneside, but if we lost Rafa Benitez to Stoke City then we might as well all pack it in.
It was Rafa Benitez who approached Newcastle United when Steve McClaren was belatedly sacked, not the other way round.
Looking for another club after Real Madrid (that is…Real Madrid), Rafa was interested in Newcastle because he sees the potential at the club.
He has stated this many many times since taking on the job and it has never changed, Newcastle United do have, and will always have, potential to be a far bigger and powerful entity than they are now, but we are still just at the potential stage.
One thing for sure though, if/when Rafa Benitez does leave Newcastle, he won’t be turning up at Stoke City.
Since 2001 his roll call of clubs has been Valencia, Liverpool, Inter Milan, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Newcastle United…
The Spaniard isn’t going to be like an ageing pro dropping down the ranks trying to get a game/job wherever he can.
If it doesn’t happen at Newcastle then he wouldn’t just go to any Premier League club, I reckon there are probably only the obvious six or so clubs that he would potentially be prepared to go to and for various reasons none of those will happen. Everton are ruled out by the Liverpool connection and so just maybe you could see West Ham as a club he could go to as an outside bet but even they are dubious.
Rafa Benitez won’t need the money but he does clearly still have the drive to try and succeed.
I do believe he sees Newcastle United as this massive final project of his managerial career, where he can turn the club around over a period of years and enable it to fulfil its potential.
If that fails to happen…well who knows. My money would be him maybe taking on a director of football role somewhere, or potentially managing abroad again, despite his preference to be close to his family home in the north west.
Rafa wants to be here on Tyneside, just as the Newcastle fans want him here as well.
We are now surely at a point where Mike Ashley has to go, or else there is no chance of Rafa Benitez staying here and/or completing what he set out to do at St James Park.
I don’t believe that Rafa would leave mid-season, either due to no January transfer funds being forthcoming or Mike Ashley sticking around, but just like the 11 seasons of Ashley have done to the fans, every extra day the Fat Controller remains in control a little part of you feels like giving up.