Rafa Benitez says you have to be realistic when Mike Ashley won’t even let you compete with Bournemouth
Rafa Benitez faces Chelsea today.
A club where only six years ago he went into mid-season and in a matter of months led them to Europa League success and Champions League qualification.
Then followed spells at Napoli and Real Madrid.
Now he returns with Newcastle United.
Chelsea have just spent £60m on Christian Pulisic and yet their fans are moaning about the West London club not spending money on players.
Asked about his own current position before taking on former club Chelsea, Rafa Benitez said that with the position Mike Ashley has put him in, Newcastle can’t even dream of competing with Bournemouth in the transfer market.
In the time that Rafa Benitez has been at St James Park, Bournemouth have bought Jordan Ibe (£16m), Nathan Ake (£20m), Diego Rico (£14m), Jefferson Lerma (£25m) and Dominic Solanke (£19m).
In that same time period, Rafa’s biggest signing has been Matt Ritchie for £12m from Bournemouth.
This was when Rafa was building a team to get out of the Championship and yet Ritchie is still at Newcastle as one of our better players, despite his limitations at Premier League level.
The thing is as well, it hasn’t been a case of Bournemouth only buying big (compared to Newcastle) because they have sold players for big fees, the largest they have received in that time period is the Matt Ritchie one…
Rafa Benitez says he has stayed in the hope that eventually Mike Ashley would see sense and allow realistic spending on essential signings.
This is Rafa’s sixth transfer window under Ashley and we must surely now accept that, barring a ‘miracle’ of new owners appearing, it will be his last at NUFC.
Rafa Benitez asked why he hasn’t walked away, as yet, from Newcastle United:
“This club was an opportunity to be in the top ten.
“We couldn’t save the team (from relegation) and then we won the Championship, so we then said, ‘OK, now is the time (when we need to invest)…’
“Then you say the first year back in the Premier League is quite difficult but we finished tenth and so ‘now is the time (to invest)…’
“Then it is the third year and you try, you try, but…
“I had teams and agents talking (to my people) with more money (I would get and have available to spend on the team) than here.
“(But) Still I want to do something here.
“I want to stay in England so I’m close to my family and the fans have been fantastic, so you try to do something properly.
“It is a challenge but it is (also) a risk. Yes it is a risk (to stay at a club with no ambition that could mean another relegation and risk to my reputation).
“I will try and do my best to win every single game but obviously it depends on the players that you have.
“If you talk about the other teams at the bottom of the table, they are not as big as Newcastle United, a massive club, with 52,000 fans at every game and up to 9,000 when you go away at times.
‘The reality is that we have to compete in a division when we cannot compete against Bournemouth….who are spending money.
“That doesn’t mean you are negative, just realistic.”
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