Mike Ashley wants Rafa Benitez to sign a new contract before the January transfer window opens, according to a new report on Tuesday morning.
As it stands, the manager appears set to walk away at the end of the season unless something dramatic happens.
The disastrous summer transfer window ended with the manager yet again talking about how badly he had been let down with yet more broken promises from the owner, so no wonder Rafa Benitez has demanded action before he will consider a contract extension.
In any number of interviews since that last transfer window ended, Rafa has repeatedly said that the acid test on whether he will consider staying will be what happens in January.
A direct challenge to Mike Ashley that the manager wants to see the signings happen, rather than put any faith in what the club’s owner tells him.
There are only so many times you can be lied to before you call somebody’s bluff.
However, The Northern Echo say today that their information is that Ashley is insistent on a new contract being signed before the end of the year and before what looks to be an absolute key transfer window when it comes to Newcastle’s survival chances.
This is before we even get to the other key things Rafa believes are essential at the club, such as proper investment in the Academy and the State of the art new training complex that Mike Ashley promised in 2013 would be built, fully three years before Rafa Benitez even arrived at St James Park.
It isn’t as though Rafa Benitez would be short of job offers if/when he leaves Newcastle, so why on earth he would have any interest in tying himself any longer to Mike Ashley, before seeing what happens in January, is beyond me.
As for Ashley, Rafa is the one thing/person he will hate not being able to control, so no surprises he wants to get him tied to a longer contract now.
With all these reports you do always wonder about how much is a real story and how much it is filling up column inches.
However, Mike Ashley and his people aren’t shy of pushing stuff into the media.
The Northern Echo pushes again the claim that Mike Ashley still supposedly wants to sell the club and the Chronicle were also pushing this line yesterday. The facts though tell you that the club is most definitely not up for sale, with it never having sold in the 10 years since Ashley first claimed he wanted to sell. Plus of course we have had two different media claims in these last few days of Mike Ashley allegedly being confronted and abused by Newcastle fans.
Apart from speaking out in the transfer windows, Rafa Benitez is of course Ashley’s perfect manager, somebody who is more capable than almost any other of potentially getting survival on the lowest possible spend.
A different matter of course when it comes to whether Newcastle United, at least under Mike Ashley, is the perfect club for Rafa Benitez.
If Rafa is to sign a new contract I think we all know it definitely won’t be signed until he sees if he gets what he wants in January and Mike Ashley finally keeps his promises.
The Northern Echo:
Mike Ashley wants to tie Rafael Benitez down to a new five-year deal – and is determined to break the current impasse over the Newcastle United manager’s future before the transfer window reopens at the start of January.
Ashley is keen to initiate a new round of discussions, and is even prepared to take a much more hands-on approach to negotiations if it helps facilitate a breakthrough.
The Sports Direct boss remains keen to sell up, but accepts any deal is a long way off, with no one currently willing to meet his asking price of at least £300m.
His next move will be to reach out to Benitez and his representatives, although it remains to be seen how the Newcastle boss reacts if he is challenged to attend new discussions.
Three key sticking points prevented talks from progressing at the start of the year – the extent of Ashley’s financial support in the next few transfer windows and the scope of Benitez’s ability to dictate transfer decisions, an overhaul of the club’s academy structure, and a series of physical improvements to Newcastle’s Darsley Park training ground.