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Opinion

This spine of the Newcastle United team set to follow if Rafa Benitez goes

6 months ago
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The future of Rafa Benitez is still in the balance.

Quite incredible that Mike Ashley has let it get this far.

Indeed, it remains to be seen if he even has any real intention of trying to convince the manager to stay.

Whilst other clubs have for some time already been planning their summer moves and preparations for next season, Newcastle United don’t even know who the manager is going  to be.

Rafa Benitez clearly wants to stay at the club and has bent over backwards to leave the option open, any other high quality manager in the same position would surely have told Ashley where to stick it by now.

However, the Spaniard clearly still sees the potential of NUFC, as he said from the start and keeps repeating on a regular basis even now, plus he has a great bond with the fans and also doesn’t want to waste the 3+ years of work he has put in. Work on a very limited budget that has established a great base to potentially progress from BUT only if now, the manager is given a realistic budget and freedom to operate in the transfer market this summer.

There is a meeting set to take place between NUFC owner and manager…sometime, though this sums up the lack of urgency shown, with reports that this coming together won’t happen until after the end of the season.

Rafa Benitez gave Mike Ashley his conditions to stay, back in March, to reach this point with no conclusion makes you fear the worst.

That worst could be far worse that people think, in my opinion.

To not retain Rafa Benitez would be the biggest own goal imaginable, but if the manager leaves, it would also surely trigger an exodus of key players.

For £11m, Rafa has fashioned a spine of the team this season with four players who have been our best performers.

Rondon on loan, then Hayden in midfield who was signed for £4m back in summer 2016, then Schar (£3m) and Dubravka (£4m) signed on permanent deals.

We know that Isaac Hayden’s situation is slightly different as family reasons are pushing a move but at least whilst Rafa remains, there is a chance that the midfielder could find a way to stay on.

Despite being Newcastle’s key player this season, if the manager feels he has no choice to leave, then surely this will also mean no chance of Mike Ashley allowing a cash bid to be made for Salomon Rondon. Rafa Benitez’ and the striker’s futures appear to be inextricably linked, both decisions that should be no-brainers for the club’s owner but the fact that they aren’t, sums up the madness of the running of NUFC.

As for Martin Dubravka and Fabian Schar, they have been excellent. Major reasons as to why Newcastle found Premier league safety ahead of most people’s expectations.

It is guaranteed there will be interest in the pair from ambitious clubs this summer. If Rafa Benitez stays, I would have every confidence that they both would remain as well.

However, with the Swiss international set to turn 28 in December and Dubravka 31 in January, if the manager departs then they will surely look at the situation and think what is the point?

If you are an eternal optimist you might think of the profits Newcastle/Ashley could generate on the initial £11m investment on Hayden, Schar and Dubravka, plus the money ‘saved’ on not buying Rondon. The thinking being that if these players did leave then there would be a lot of extra cash to help replace them.

However, no guarantee of all the sale prices being made available this summer, as we know from past players leaving.

Plus, losing so many key players, particularly in the spine of the team, is very hard to replace successfully.

Imagining this team without all of those four players next season and with a new manager (head coach?), doesn’t bear thinking about.

Keeping Rafa Benitez is about far more than just retaining a very good manager.

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