Late on Wednesday night there was an ‘exclusive’ about Rafa Benitez.
The story is, that West Ham are making a move for him as their new manager, confident they can attract him due to the way Mike Ashley is treating him etc etc.
However, what was a little bit different was that all of the various media outlets put the story/exclusive out at the same time.
Not a case of one putting the story out and the others copying, instead it was obviously coordinated for maximum effect to get the story/message out there.
So, it was obviously a case of the various media being briefed and agreeing to the story not going out until a certain time.
You can see below three of the media outlets who put the story out, all very similar.
The question is…who was briefing the media?
The most obvious would be West Ham themselves:
Numerous reasons why they would, top of which of course is to tell Rafa Benitez that they do want him, something which is pretty obvious as he would be a cut above anybody else they would potentially get.
The story could also be seen as an attempt by West Ham to placate their fans and try to convince them that they are showing ambition in their new manager search.
After being messed about these past three transfer windows and with progress on agreement with Mike Ashley seemingly almost non-existent, despite Premier League safety achieved around five weeks ago, it would also be no surprise if Rafa’s people are the ones happy to put this story out.
Sunday saw Mike Ashley yet again suggest he has no intention of doing things properly now. Instead of dealing professionally in a direct way with Rafa Benitez, he chose to put out another ridiculous statement only minutes after the win over Chelsea, claiming yet again he was fully behind Rafa and would once again give him ‘every penny’.
With the Premier League transfer window now officially open, Rafa Benitez will be desperate to get moving in preparation for next season but if he is still in the dark as to what he has to spend, he may see he has to force the issue somehow.
I would never put anything past Mike Ashley. He bought Newcastle United because he knew how much coverage the club attracts and the Sports Direct association with the club has been a key factor in helping to make him ever richer.
Ashley is of course close to Sky Sports with them regularly scratching each other’s backs, every time a Newcastle United story goes out there, where Mike Ashley will be mentioned, he knows it will go around the world and Sports Direct also gets a massive number of mentions.
I think he very much buys into the idea of there’s no such thing as bad publicity when it comes to any story that gets Sports Direct mentioned via Newcastle United.
One thing is for sure.
This media circus is certain to run and run, whether it is stories involving West Ham or whoever, until Rafa Benitez is convinced to sign an extended contract with Newcastle United.
Here’s hoping that is very soon.
The Sky Sports last night:
‘West Ham are planning on making a move for Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez, according to Sky sources.
The Spaniard almost became Hammers boss in the summer of 2015 before they were gazumped by Real Madrid.
West Ham co-owner David Sullivan remains on good terms with Benitez.’
The Mail last night:
‘West Ham will move to lure Rafa Benitez from Newcastle after confirming on Wednesday that the tenure of David Moyes as manager was over.
Sensing they might be able to get Benitez from Newcastle as relations appear to be difficult between him and owner Mike Ashley over spending, West Ham now look certain to try again.
Sullivan is known to be an admirer having revealed in December 2015 that they were ‘two hours from getting Benitez’ when he received the offer from the Bernabeu.
‘He is a top manager and I think he’d have done a wonderful job for us,’ Sullivan said at the time.’
The Mirror last night:
‘West Ham will make an approach for Rafa Benitez after finally showing David Moyes the door.
The Hammers have Newcastle boss Benitez at the top of a four-man shortlist, and hope to make an appointment by the end of next week.
The Spaniard has just a year left on his contract at St James’ Park, where his future remains in doubt as owner Mike Ashley has yet to guarantee him the improved transfer kitty he wants after keeping the club safe from relegation after promotion a year ago.
West Ham’s new chief is set to be backed with substantial funds, with the board determined not to endure any more scraps to survive the drop.’