Jamie Carragher says that sadly it will be Rafa Benitez and not Mike Ashley who leaves Newcastle United.
Carragher describes NUFC as a ‘failing institution’ and questions exactly what the owner’s plan is?
Well this summer it became very clear what the short-term plan was, to continue to undermine the manager and leave Newcastle United facing a huge challenge to avoid relegation.
Mike Ashley insisting on a £20m+ transfer profit and Rafa Benitez restricted to loans, free transfers and a few bargain basement buys.
The NUFC manager will be able to walk away with his head held high: instant promotion as Championship winners, 10th in the Premier League, then whatever he can make of this shambles he has been left with this season.
Jamie Carragher forecasts Rafa will go abroad to a club who will give him one last chance at attacking the Champions League.
Something which he says is in stark contrast to not even being able to challenge the likes of Crystal Palace when it comes to transfers.
When Rafa does leave, almost certainly next summer, Jamie Carragher declares that ‘Yet again the Newcastle fans will suffer’ and wonders just who Mike Ashley would replace the manager with.
Ashley lives just season to season and I doubt if he has given it a second thought, because if Rafa Benitez does walk away, he will simply get yet another ‘Pardew/JFK, McClaren/Carver’ who won’t be up to the job but who will do as they are told and not complain.
What a club.
‘Rafael Benitez is wasted at Newcastle – he has to leave this failing institution.
“If Ashley stays, Rafa will have to go.”
Those were my final words when I dedicated a column to Newcastle last season. Looking at the situation at the club at the start of this one, from a footballing perspective it is difficult to explain why my former manager is still there.
For a coach of Rafa Benítez’s pedigree to be treading water with no prospect of doing anything beyond retaining Premier League status is incomprehensible. There is nothing more he can do at St James’ Park. Not without regime change, and that is not happening.
Yet again, the Newcastle fans will suffer when this has played itself out. While they cherish Benítez’s coaching talent, those running the club are wasting it.
It would be fascinating to hear from Ashley what exactly his plan is for Newcastle. Not just this season, but beyond. Does he have one? Is there anyone sitting in his boardroom working out where the clubs needs and wants to go and how they intend to get there?
Ashley’s only concern is preserving Premier League status so while he has a manager who can keep the club up the constant sniping at his ownership has no effect. I don’t even believe he is actively trying to sell the club.
Other than the continued employment of Benítez, everything at St James’ Park smacks of zero ambition. Is there anyone at Newcastle drawing a list of managerial successors to Benítez when his contract expires in June?
What kind of manager can Newcastle expect to lure once Benítez has gone? No-one of his calibre will go near the job given they know how little money has been spent on the team.
Rafa was given full control of the club’s football operations when he decided to stay to regain promotion, but what does it amount to?
We continuously hear about targets not being pursued vigorously enough by the hierarchy, players’ wages being considered too excessive to complete a deal, and a multitude of reasons being presented not to secure a transfer a month before the signing eventually arrives on deadline day – thus ensuring they need a month to fully adjust to the new set-up.
Ashley can argue Benítez is one of the highest paid managers in the Premier League so he has spent more than he is credited, but the transfer fees over the last four years and beyond paint a different picture. The club came out of the last transfer window with £23.2 million profit at a time when they had to spending a minimum of £40 million net to improve the team – and that is a conservative estimate in the current era of spending.
Ashley has baulked at players salaries from the most moderately paid players by Premier League standards. Newcastle is a club that used to dream of fighting with the top clubs for players, now they can’t even compete with promoted teams like Wolves and Fulham for the same targets. At the moment they are losing out to clubs like Burnley who are more willing to meet contract expectations. That is what happened when the clubs were pursuing Jack Cork a year ago.
The owner must be calculating he can save money now by relying on Benítez to keep the club up, but it is a false economy. The bill will come later as a less capable manager will need cash to match the job he is doing next season.
But the reality is Newcastle travel to Selhurst Park as underdogs. Crystal Palace, on paper, is a superior side. There is no-one of Wilfried Zaha’s class in the Newcastle squad, which is why Benítez has opted for a much more defensive approach to keep the team up.
Knowing Rafa as I do, he will be desperately missing the Champions League, watching those games in midweek and so frustrated he is not trying to outsmart those younger coaches. He will feel he has one more crack at the European elite in him, but he would have to go back overseas to do it.
The shame for Newcastle is they could have been that ‘one last big job’ if they had just some of the cash – and ambition – of Premier League rivals.
Newcastle fans justifiably argue they can never achieve such lofty ambitions until Ashley gets out of St James’ Park.
For Benítez to satisfy his and enhance a decorated list of honours, he will go first.’