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Rafa Benitez responds to claims he is ‘Almost certain’ he will agree to stay at Newcastle United

1 year ago
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Only 40 days now until Rafa Benitez takes charge of the final game of his current Newcastle United contract.

Only six games to go and the NUFC manager had plenty of food for thought after the game at the Emirates.

His outfield players outclassed all over the pitch as Arsenal strolled to a 2-0 victory that could have been so much worse.

In the aftermath Rafa Benitez was quizzed on the game of course BUT no surprises that at least as much focus was on his own future.

Earlier on Monday, a new report from The Telegraph (see below) stated: ‘Rafa Benitez’s future at Newcastle United..we have reached the stage where it is now almost certain he will sign a new contract at St James’ Park.’

Asked about this report, Rafa Benitez replied:

“At the moment, I’m only concentrated on what I can do, that is to prepare the team for the next game.

“People can talk about things, that is normal in football.

“Players, managers, whatever…the only thing I can do now is try to do the job properly and stay in the Premier League.

“Nothing has changed.

“We are exactly the same as we were some days ago.

“We are in the same position, the same situation. I’m just trying to concentrate on Crystal Palace.”

You can pick and choose what you want with Rafa’s comments/interviews, he has the experience to decide exactly what he says and when he says it, plus who he says it to at times.

As above, before and after matches, with the English media he is always keen to not allow anything to interfere with the job in hand.

However, when talking to the media in his native Spain, especially as we get closer to the end of his three year contract, Rafa Benitez has been increasingly talking about his future and how he wants/needs to be able to compete, at least on a certain level. The NUFC boss saying he can see himself managing for another ten years and how he wants it to be a big/special project.

This is very much what he talked about when he agreed to stay at Newcastle despite relegation, that he wanted a big long-term project and he could see the potential of NUFC as a club where he could build year after year.

Instead he has been starved of support in building his squad, forced mainly to rely on budget signings to get through another season, with no net investment in the squad in the three years and six transfer windows he has endured.

It was telling that after the defeat to Arsenal, Rafa Benitez was keen to talk especially about the final third of the pitch and how you can’t do it constantly on the relative cheap, Rafa declaring: ‘The final third we have been speaking all season…the final third you have to spend £40m, £50m, £75m.’

He wasn’t even allowed to buy Salomon Rondon for £16.5m last summer and all the indications are that Mike Ashley is refusing to do so again this summer, with the striker set to turn 30 in September.

I wish I was ‘almost certain’ that Rafa Benitez will still be here in August…

Luke Edwards writing yesterday (1 April 2019) in The Telegraph:

‘It is always a risk to make a definitive statement on anything to do with Rafa Benitez’s future at Newcastle United, but we have reached the stage where it is now almost certain he will sign a new contract at St James’ Park.

It is a fear that has stalked supporters all season, the risk that Benitez would abandon them, his relationship with the club’s owner Mike Ashley so riddled with mistrust and animosity, it made it impossible for him extend his contract. Things have changed.

There is no running commentary on the progress being made in negotiations. No leaks, no off-the-record briefings, no attempts to put pressure on the other in the court of public opinion. But, make no mistake, constructive talks are taking place, quietly, without fuss, in the background. It is hugely encouraging.

To put it simply, it would now be a far bigger shock if Benitez left Newcastle than if he stayed. The manager Newcastle supporters have loved more than any other since Sir Bobby Robson is preparing himself to sign a new contract.

If the two have spent most of the last 18 months dancing around each other like a matador taunting an angry Spanish bull, things have changed. If they are dancing, it is to a soft rock ballad. They have not quite embraced, but eye contact has been made and the flames of mutual attraction have sparked.

We are not quite there yet, but everything points to a positive conclusion in negotiations. Nobody has told me this is certain, or that everything has been agreed, but as far as I am concerned, Benitez will be Newcastle United’s manager next season.

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