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Guillem Balague says scurrilous assertions about friend Rafa Benitez are ‘outrageous’

3 months ago
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Guillem Balague is a close friend of Rafa Benitez, as well as being a respected football journalist.

He has been looking at Rafa’s current situation and thinks it is the balance whether he stays at Newcastle United or not.

The NUFC boss currently has only months remaining on is current contract which ends after this season, with Rafa so far refusing to sign ana extension unless Mike Ashley backs him.

Guillem Balague declares though that one thing his friend has never been is a ‘quitter’ and thinks he will at least see this season out, do the right thing.

The journalist stating: ‘That would mean failure, quitting, and one thing Rafa Benitez is not, and never has been, is a quitter.’

He also states categorically that claims Rafa only took the Newcastle job for money are ‘spurious and scurrilous assertions’ and ‘outrageous as they are inaccurate.’

Guillem Balague speaking to BBC Sport:

After consecutive wins and seven points out of a possible nine, people are finally beginning to believe Rafael Benitez’s claims that his Newcastle United side are not going to be relegated.

But even if he does manage to keep them up, will it be enough to ensure he remains at St James’ Park?

If he does maintain the momentum and ensures Premier League status, it will be an achievement to rival any of the managerial successes crafted over a long and illustrious career.

Can Benitez’s vision be realised at Newcastle?

A victim of his own success by finishing 10th in the Premier League the season after winning promotion, you wonder if it would not have been better, having steered the family saloon to a mid-place finish in football’s equivalent of a grand prix, to leave while he was ahead.

Had they beaten a virtually already relegated West Brom at home in their penultimate game of last season they would have finished in an almost unimaginable eighth place. It was a stressful season, and in the summer lots of doubts surfaced about how much the club was going to back the Spaniard’s ambitious vision.

The spurious and scurrilous assertions that he only took – and remains in – the job for the money are as outrageous as they are inaccurate. The fact is Benitez was lured to Newcastle with the same dreams and aspirations as just about every single Newcastle fan. He, like they, wanted to wake the “sleeping giant”.

For “sleeping”, read comatose. Rip van Winkle, who slept for a mere 20 years, is practically an insomniac by comparison. Apart from the Championship and the kind of farce that was the Intertoto Cup, the last piece of silverware to sit in the club’s trophy room was the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup from way back in 1969.

He did not come to the club with a plan to merely avoid relegation. He wanted to win, to compete.

And yet in the footballing-mad metropolis that is Tyneside, expectations are high. Unnaturally so, really, with the perception that a top-10 finish ought to be the bare minimum for a club with the facilities and fanbase that they enjoy.

If Benitez had merely been there for the money, he could name his price and leave for China tomorrow. But for the Spanish manager that would mean failure, quitting, and one thing Benitez is not, and never has been, is a quitter.

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