Sunday morning has brought reports that the Rafa Benitez contract clause has run out.
This is the contract clause that has been talked about pretty much ever since the Spaniard agreed to stay on after relegation and certainly ever since that January 2017 transfer window when Mike Ashley refused to allow his manager to sign any players.
There was claimed to be a £6m clause, whereby if Rafa walked out he would have to pay Mike Ashley that amount, the same working the other way if Mike Ashley sacked his manager.
That £6m amount said to be the equivalent of a year’s wages for Rafa Benitez.
These past four transfer windows where Mike Ashley has messed Rafa about, that £6m clause has been put up as something by the media that ties the manager to the club/owner and has prevented him walking away, or at least being a major reason why he wouldn’t/hasn’t.
As I said at the start of this, now some newspapers are claiming that this £6m has expired, so allegedly Rafa could walk away and not have to pay a penny in compensation, as well as presumably Mike Ashley not having to pay anything if he sacked the former Real Madrid boss.
This story has always struck me as believable, only if you base everything on the way Newcastle United operate, and have no knowledge of how things have moved on elsewhere.
The kind of thing where the north east media happily go on as though paying £20m+ for Miguel Almiron is some unbelievable and unrealistic thing for a Premier League to do. The same with them being happy to toe the Mike Ashley PR line that paying Almiron £100,000+ per week in wages would be ‘astronomical’ in today’s football world.
If you look at it as a manager transfer market (because if the £6m clause existed/exists, then realistically it would be another club paying this in order to get Rafa’s services), if Alan Pardew was worth the £2m Palace signed him for four years ago, how much would Rafa Benitez be worth for another club to sign him? Would it be £10m, £20m? Certainly a lot more than any £6m, seen as that gets you a Joselu these days in playing terms.
I don’t believe either that this £6m clause expired, if it did indeed exist. What would be the point of having this clause if in the third season your manager could then totally drop you in it mid-season and walk away for nothing?
Anyway, this isn’t really what I wanted to talk about.
There is only one reason why Rafa Benitez is still here.
He could have had any number of clubs who would have been more than happy to pay £6m compo to Ashley as any part of a financial package to attract Benitez.
Nor is it the rapport/respect/love that the manager has for the Newcastle players, staff and fans. Though that certainly does exist.
Instead, it is professional pride.
It is that which has ensured Rafa Benitez has stayed at Newcastle United.
It is that which has ensured Rafa Benitez will stay at Newcastle United and see out his three year contract, before walking away for sure this summer.
A professional pride to see the job through.
Tim Sherwood was (one of a few) talking nonsense yesterday but one of the things he did say that was true, is that without Rafa Benitez this squad would definitely be relegated.
There is no way that Rafa Benitez will want two Newcastle United relegations in four seasons on his CV.
Of course, only the enemies of the Newcastle fans and manager make out that 2015/16 was in any way his fault.
However, if Newcastle were to go down this season, and even though any rational person would know that it was Mike Ashley’s fault 100%. It would sadly be an ongoing storyline, this second relegation during Rafa’a time at St James Park making the pushing of blame for the first one, more credible, in a number of people’s eyes.
Rafa Benitez couldn’t walk away now even if he wanted to.
If he left, then it would be certain relegation under another Mike Ashley patsy, and this relegation would be put down to him (Rafa), at least in managerial terms.
We all know that would be unfair and Rafa does too BUT he knows more than any of us the way the media works.
If Rio Ferdinand can be allowed yet again to go on BT Sport and spout that nonsense about Mike Ashley and Newcastle United, despite having an ongoing business interest with Ashley and a clear conflict of interest, then what would you imagine could and would be said if Rafa walked out and then NUFC went down this season???
Rafa Benitez is a decent man and dedicated to his job but he is also rightfully proud of his reputation.
There is no way that he is going to accept a relegation this season, he will do every single thing to prevent it. The very last thing he would do is jump ship.
This also to me helps explain why the NUFC manager doesn’t kick off as much about Mike Ashley, about the ridiculous transfer market handcuffs preventing him signing credible players, why he does everything he can to not knock this squad who patently aren’t good enough as individuals to make up a Premier League team.
The only thing on his mind is survival this season…and then he will walk away.