Back in May, Mark Lawrenson made a number of predictions about Newcastle United and Rafa Benitez.
The BBC Sport pundit forecast that Newcastle would lose 2-0 to Chelsea on the final day of the season, as well as what the future held for the NUFC manager.
Lawrenson was correct in saying that he couldn’t imagine Chelsea sticking with Antonio Conte and sure enough, he was sacked two months after winning the FA Cup and 14 months after lifting the Premier League title.
As for Rafa Benitez, Mark Lawrenson said ‘he will be happy if he gets some money to spend’ and that for Mike Ashley ‘it is a no-brainer to try to keep him, surely?’
Instead, what we had was Mike Ashley making a £20m+ profit in the summer, the highest of all 20 PL clubs, the owner seemingly goading/daring the manager to walk away.
As it happens, Rafa looks set to see out the final year of his Newcastle contract but as it stands now, surely minimal chance of the Spaniard staying on after that, unless there is a change of ownership of NUFC, or a change of direction from Ashley in how he operates at Newcastle United.
With the Liverpool connection, by and large the likes of Mark Lawrenson and Jamie Carragher will give Newcastle’s fans and manager a fair hearing, whilst Rafa Benitez remains in the job.
For Sunday’s match, Lawrenson sees a 1-1 draw as the most likely outcome, Sarri bringing his team/squad of attacking talent to St James Park and Rafa Benitez having to try and combat that with budget buys, loans and free transfers.
Mark Lawrenson thinks Newcastle haven’t carried the luck so far and deserve more than the one point in the bank that they do have.
The biggest stroke of luck for Rafa Benitez and the fans would be if Mike Ashley sold the club.
In the meantime, we will settle for another three points against Chelsea, which would make it 16 from the last possible 18 against the blues at St James Park.
11 May 2018 – Mark Lawrenson talking to BBC Sport:
“Chelsea have underachieved this season and I cannot see Antonio Conte being in charge of the Blues at the start of the next campaign.
“Unfortunately for Newcastle fans, it is not clear whether Rafa Benitez will still be their manager by then either.
“Benitez has done a great job and he will be happy if he gets some money to spend in the transfer market, so it is a no-brainer to try to keep him, surely.”
24 August 2018 – Mark Lawrenson talking to BBC Sport:
“Newcastle have been unlucky this season.
“They got nothing from a good performance against Tottenham and should have beaten Cardiff when down to 10 men, with Kenedy missing an injury-time penalty.
“Rafael Benitez is very successful at setting his team up to be difficult to beat at home to the Premier League superpowers.
“Chelsea look more bright and adventurous than they did under Antonio Conte, but they do have some defensive blips.
“Maurizio Sarri has them playing a pressing game and when that breaks down is when the opposition have the space to create chances.
“Prediction is Newcastle 1 Chelsea 1.”
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