Rafa Benitez has given a very interesting interview that is clearly aimed at Mike Ashley.
Speaking to a group of journalists whilst out in Spain, the Newcastle Manager says that it is clear Newcastle United weren’t doing things right, as they were heading down.
Indeed the previous few seasons had seen pretty much a constant struggle against potential relegation, after the previous promotion and then surprise fifth place finish, was totally wasted.
A crying shame, that the momentum was halted by Mike Ashley at such a crucial point.
Moving forward, after getting promotion once again and if Newcastle stay up, Rafa Benitez says that the club (Mike Ashley!) ‘cannot make the same mistakes again…’.
Rafa talks about being able to improve what he has already got, as we have seen this season.
However, he also talks about needing the right ‘tools’ to do the job.
Rafa Benitez declares ‘I came here with the idea to compete, to create a strong team and strong club, to compete every year.’
He is realistic though and says that to build success takes time, by gradually establishing yourself higher and higher up the league.
The bottom line though is that this kind of gradual improvement can only come by having the right manager in place and with sensible investment.
After being messed around by Mike Ashley in these past three transfer windows (after making a £40m profit for Ashley/NUFC in his first one), with all buys blocked by Mike Ashley in two of them and only a very small net spend in the other, it is very difficult to imagine Rafa Benitez putting himself in a position of being messed around by Mike Ashley this summer.
With Newcastle having given themselves a great chance of staying up and even the bookies now rating them as high as 14/1 to go down, Rafa is getting close to completing the safety task for this season.
As he is now making clear to Ashley though, this now has to be backed up by proper investment in the summer.
Something has to give, either Mike Ashley has to start and do things properly, or sell up to the Amanda Staveley bidders, Floyd Mayweather...or whoever.
“Have I enjoyed being the manager of Newcastle?
“I enjoy it when we are winning.
“I like to do well, to do things well, and when you can see that something is right…I am really proud of that.
“But it is difficult to enjoy it when you are suffering all the time – because you have to win and then you lose.
“The problem in football is that sometimes, you take the responsibility for the mistakes of others.
“I am sure we can improve the players, improve the team and improve the squad.
“We can improve some departments and if we do this, then we will be stronger, and then I will enjoy it more.
“Have I enjoyed this season?
“No, but maybe the word ‘enjoyment’ is different in English…I am really pleased with my job. I like it.
“But enjoyment is when you score eight goals in the Champions League against Besiktas, a record.
“When I hear the supporters singing my name, it makes me very proud, but I also feel that responsibility to do well for them.
“Someone has to make the decisions, someone has to take responsibility.
“If something is wrong, you have to change [it], but [if] you don’t have all the tools that you want…
“It’s not that I am right in every decision but what is clear is that if you want to be stronger, we have to improve and we have to change things.
“I came here with the idea to compete, to create a strong team and strong club, to compete every year.
“What we have to do if we stay up, is improve. What I said when I said I wanted to stay [after relegation in 2016], was that I could see the potential for this club to be in the top 10 and even higher.
“Higher could be top eight but it doesn’t mean can be there one year after finishing 15th for three years in a row.
“You have to be top 10, then top eight, then top seven, six…it depends on consistency.
“The way Newcastle United were doing things [before I arrived] doesn’t mean that they were right, because they were going down.
“We have now had the chance to go up, we cannot make the same mistakes again…”