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Only 2 weeks until final game and Rafa Benitez reveals no answer from Mike Ashley

3 years ago

Rafa Benitez watched on as his team ending up drawing a very strange game.

Newcastle were good in the first half and Brighton woeful, the game should have been over at half-time but NUFC didn’t show any urgency to finish them off, not helped by Almiron’s absence and Perez having to depart shortly after scoring.

After the break, it was Newcastle who were woeful, whilst the home team at least showed they might care after all about staying in the Premier League, huffing and puffing and maybe just about deserving the eventual draw.

The result means Brighton are all but safe and for Newcastle maybe now a case of the season can’t end fast enough, as the second half exposed just how weak the squad is, especially in the attacking half, once any number of regulars are missing.

Whilst it was all about the here and now and survival for Brighton, the only important topic for Newcastle fans is the future, whether it will be with or without Rafa Benitez.

It is now around five weeks since Rafa Benitez gave Mike Ashley (at the owner’s request) a list of conditions that have to be satisfied before he would agree to a contract extension.

In typical Ashley fashion, Rafa confirmed after yesterday’s game that he is still waiting for a response five weeks later.

Whilst the manager says that he has no real deadline on when he needs a reply by, the reality is laid out by Rafa Benitez.

The Spaniard stating that ‘every day counts’, that when it comes to planning for next season every day is wasted until he knows whether it will be a yes or no.

It is just like a replay of every transfer window, the manager saying he has identified targets and wants to move for them as early as possible, then the owner refusing to allow that.

Last summer a prime example as Ashley refused to allow a cash offer to be made for Salomon Rondon, leading to a wasted pre-season, until the final week of the window saw the Venezuelan arrive on loan. January a repeat performance, Almiron only signed on the very final day of the window.

History tells us that Rafa Benitez might not even get a reply, that Mike Ashley simply sees it as a game to be ‘won’, his power to be asserted by not even having the courtesy to let the manager know either way, even though it was he who asked Rafa Benitez what he wanted.

Back in 2009 Mike Ashley did the same to Alan Shearer, asking him for a detailed plan on getting the club back to the Premier League and then building from there, the NUFC legend not receiving a reply to this day.

Ashley thinks he can bluff it from season to season, whether without Rafa or not. Two relegations and a number of near misses proves the stupidity of that particular ‘plan’ of his.Bouncing straight back as champions both times appears to have given him this false sense of security that any relegation is only a temporary obstacle and a risk worth taking.

It is difficult to see how this can end well when Mike Ashley could have agreed this weeks ago if he had any intention of retaining and supporting Rafa Benitez.

I just hope I am proved wrong.

Rafa Benitez asked if he he’d had a reply as yet from Mike Ashley, after the manager (at Ashley’s request) gave him a list of conditions in March, that would need to be met before he would agree to sign a new contract:

“I will let you know when we have news…

“There is no timescale really (for an agreement to be reached)…but every day counts.

“You want to do everything possible to start working on things (for next season).

“What do we want to do in the future? That is the key.

“If we have different visions, we would have to find a point in between if we are happy with that.

‘We have to talk and try and move forward as quickly as possible.”

Rafa Benitez asked if he’s relaxed about there being no reply so far or conclusion to the contract situation;

“I’m not relaxed.

“It is not depending on me.”

Stats from BBC Sport:

Brighton 1 Newcastle 1



Perez 18


Gross 75

Possession was Brighton 49% Newcastle 51%

Total shots were Brighton 9 Newcastle 9

Shots on target were Brighton 2 Newcastle 1

Corners were Brighton 7 Newcastle 4

Referee: Mike Dean

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Manquillo, Schar, Fernandez, Dummett, Ritchie, Hayden, Shelvey (Ki 73), Atsu (Muto 81), Perez (Kenedy 33), Rondon

Unused Subs:

Darlow, Yedlin, Barreca, Diame

Crowd: 30,587  (2,500 Newcastle)

(You can read instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to the game HERE)

(Chris Hughton reacts to the 1-1  draw HERE)

(Positives and Negatives from the match HERE)

(Match ratings and comments on NUFC players HERE)


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