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Mike Ashley stringing Rafa Benitez along : Contract ends and 6 weeks of transfer window gone

1 week ago
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Well thank heavens that’s all over with.

After dispatching Fulham, all eyes will turn towards Rafa Benitez and the ongoing protracted negotiations regarding his contract at Newcastle United.

In the meantime all that remains to be said is thanks to The Mag and it’s Editor/s for another season of debate and to wish everybody a cracking summer away from the football.

Everyone on this site doesn’t always agree on everything all the time, but all I converse with have the club’s interests at heart and I think one thing we can all agree on, is that of all the jobs this club has over the break in hostilities, is that keeping hold of Rafa Benitez is job number one.

This reported meeting that Rafa is having in the next few days with Lee Charnley and Mike Ashley. we live in hope that this little get together is going to be the defining moment where all the wrongs of the past two years are put right and a plan is put forward, agreements made and the alliances that are formed will take Newcastle United on to bigger and better things.

It really shouldn’t be hard as I don’t think a manager of Rafa’s quality requires the kind of money that for example Fulham spent last season. If Fulham had pinched Rafa last season, it’s highly likely that the two clubs would be in opposite positions as we speak.

I’ve stated elsewhere that I believe that a budget of around £45m (plus money generated from sales) and the freedom to sign whoever the manager wants, regardless of age (and that means Salomon Rondon) is what Rafa Benitez will be wanting for the relationship to go forward.

Do I believe this will happen? In a word- No! That would be far too much wishful thinking on the part of fans and press. I don’t even think Rafa is as optimistic as he’s letting on in his recent quotes. There still isn’t a confidence from the manager that his employer will turn up. How unbelievable is that?

A successful, world class and hugely likable manager, who came to the club off his own bat, who still wants to be here, is currently contracted to the club, doesn’t want to go anywhere and one who has hit every target set by himself and the club since relegation in 2016, is currently being messed around and forced to play silly, childish games with his and the club’s future.

It could be seen as negligence on the part of the owner but for me it’s deliberate sabotage. No other club’s senior management/owner would allow such a farce to take place or even allow it to get this far down the road, that is unless it’s a deliberate ploy. You can argue the reasons for and against the sacking today of Chris Hughton but already little old Brighton are planning better than we are and if a manager IS to be relieved of his duties, the day after the end of the season is the best time to do it.

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Now, this is hardly a Nostradamus like prediction. It’s not exactly hard to foresee what our club will do in the coming days/weeks, but it’s probably worth pointing it out anyway. The sequence of events are clearly mapped to all that haven’t been suckered in by the owner and his PR. We’ve seen similar many times before.

Firstly, no announcement was going to take place before the end of the season at the VERY earliest. Why would Mike Ashley invite a massive fan revolt while there are public events like matches to be played? Why openly invite such hostility? Granted he doesn’t care what the fans think/want but I’m sure he’d rather not have that atmosphere if he could easily avoid it.

Secondly, the transfer window opens Thursday 16th May. That’s in only three days time and it stays open for around 12 weeks closing on August 8th. It’s staggering that at this late stage, Newcastle United don’t know who their manager will be for next season, when all the planning for said season should be well in motion and transfers planned. Then again, this club has form on this. Rafa has often stated in the past that he was struggling to find out what his budget is, so it’s hardly surprising that transfers seem to take an eternity at Newcastle United. If you don’t want transfers to take place, it’s the easiest thing in the world to bluff your way through a transfer window and haven’t we seen that happen all too often in the past?

Once again other clubs are stealing a march on this club and this failure on our part is all by design. The aim of the owner isn’t to grow the club, make it stronger, push it up the league. How can it be? Especially when his only serving Managing Director/stooge has come out and said that this has been a ‘good season’. Ah, but Rafa has also said it has been ‘ a good season’ as well. The difference is with Rafa, I believe his meaning is a little different. Rafa saying it translates that we have done well to survive with what we’ve had to play with, Charnley will be meaning that we got by without spending a penny so my boss is happy.

If you believe the MD’s statement (after the latest accounts were released) were actually his words and not fed to him or ghost written for him to sign, then you have a far greater confidence in the man than I do. Newcastle United HAVE had a good season, in the eyes of the owner. We have spent NOTHING. That is what counts as a ‘good season’- minimal spend for maximum profit. The Premier League gravy train continues for another season.

Like I’ve said, it’s all by design, by the owner. Why bother to spend £50m-60m when there is little difference in finishing 8th-17th? Yeah there’s the matter of extra prize money, but the result is still the same. TV revenue of £100m+ will still roll in and outgoing transfers will more or less cover incoming transfers. Growing the club doesn’t even come into the equation.

And so what of relegation? That’s a manageable risk (relatively speaking) for this owner. The inevitable exodus of player covered that disaster in 2009 and then again in 2016. The only problem is if the club doesn’t come back up at the first time of asking, that’s when it would REALLY start costing Ashley money. Take the £100m revenue (and saleable players) away and then see how long he sticks it out. Not long I bet.

So lads and lasses, for the next few weeks read thus:

Firstly, Rafa and Charnley meet by the end of this week with little chance of Mike Ashley putting in an appearance. The manager and his players then go on holiday and Rafa’s contract expires on June 30th, cue deafening silence from the club much like the silence Alan Shearer was hit with in 2009. Oh and that’s over six weeks of a transfer window down the river.

The next sequence of events are vague. Rumours will swirl, most likely drip fed from the club to various media ‘sources’ that there is STILL a desire for Ashley and Rafa to come to some sort of agreement despite it being July and too late in the day for any constructive progress to be made for the forthcoming season.

The first clear cut evidence the fans will get that we will have to move on without Rafa Benitez, is with him turning up to a press conference AT HIS NEW CLUB.

Then the inevitable incompetent ‘Yes man’ will be sought (For the record, I’m still going Steve Bruce), a public statement issued from the club/Ashley’s PR department saying roughly along the lines that ‘Everything possible’ was attempted to persuade Rafa to stay, ‘Thanks’ are issued for the work Rafa did while in charge and that the club must ‘Move on’ with whoever their new manager/patsy is.

That is unless you foresee something different?

Rafa staying? Don’t be silly- it would have been sorted long before now. A professionally run club with even a modicum of ambition would have made it job number one.

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