Rafa Benitez says has no choice but to demand backing he needs from Mike Ashley as pointless if doesn’t happen
Rafa Benitez has plenty of experience when it comes to dealing with difficult owners and the politics inside football clubs where he has managed in the past.
However, he is faced with a truly unique challenge at Newcastle United.
A club which has been run for the last decade under Mike Ashley, as one that simply tries to cling onto Premier League status with the minimum amount spent.
So how does Rafa Benitez handle a club that simply wants to exist?
One thing is for sure, the Newcastle manager didn’t come to the club on that understanding, now stating: ‘I did not come here after so many games, so many titles, just to say, ‘OK, we will see what happens.’
The former Liverpool and Real Madrid boss said when he arrived at St James Park, that he had come here because he could see the potential of Newcastle, not somewhere that he was planning on being a semi-retirement home with no intention/expectation of competing: ‘When I say I have ambition and I want to win something, it is because the fans also have this ambition to win something.’
Rafa has shown at both Newcastle and previous, that he can work with existing players and improve them, but he states categorically that this can only take you so far, that ‘…what you need is more quality in the squad.’
With only one year left on his Newcastle contract, there is clearly zero chance of Rafa Benitez agreeing to any extension unless Mike Ashley moves at least some way to matching the ambitions of manager and fans.
The fact Newcastle were safe from relegation weeks ago and there has been no quick resolution, tells you that Ashley certainly isn’t 100% willing to do what needs to be done.
So now we are left with hoping for two things.
Firstly, the owner eventually accepts that he has to back Rafa Benitez.
Secondly, this happens in a timely manner that doesn’t affect too badly the work, especially transfers in and out, that needs to be done this summer.
Rafa Benitez asked if he wants to stay at Newcastle United:
“That is a tricky question.
“I said in an interview the other day, that I decided to stay because of the potential, the fans and the city…then we have to do what we have to do.
“Sometimes people think that [bargaining hard with an owner like Mike Ashley to get the backing you want/need] is negative…but I think it is a positive because it means you care.
“I am not thinking about myself…if you want to go to another level, you need more quality.
“When you have experience you try to do your best for your team, for your club, for your fans.
“At Valencia, they said, ‘We will give you this player and you can make him into a proper player’, so sometimes it is a negative against me because I can work with players to improve them and they think you do not need to spend too much money.
“I don’t really enjoy this negotiating and I would be happier just thinking about my team, my players, tactics, analysing opposition teams and improving players – but in modern football, especially in the Premier League, the budget is crucial.
“You see Manchester City, amazing coach and amazing team, [but] they could not win [the Premier League] last year.
“They had to spend a lot of money to win and the reality is with the prices in the market now, you need the money to compete.
“When I say I have ambition and I want to win something, it is because the fans also have this ambition to win something.
“I did not come to Newcastle after so many games, so many titles, just to say, ‘OK, we will see what happens.’
“I want to compete, to try to win, everyone has the same feeling.
“We have the potential to do that and so I fight to do the right things…what you need is more quality in the squad.”
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