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When it comes to Mike Ashley and Rafa Benitez you need a willing buyer and seller

3 years ago

I have stayed out of the Rafa Benitez and Mike Ashley debate until now.

It all seemed a bit bizarre when something wasn’t sorted during this final season of Rafa’s contract.

Once staying up was absolutely mathematically certain I assumed there would be an announcement to quickly follow about the new contract.

Then when that didn’t happen, to then delay any face to face meeting until late in the week after the season ended, you took for granted that it would be that night (Thursday 16 May) or the Friday for Sky Sports to bring  us the exclusive.

However, patience is now exhausted and there is a point you reach when you have to call it for what it is.

I find it all very strange that the longer this drags on, the stronger the media message is that this is going to turn out alright.

The likes of Sky Sports and especially the newspapers obviously have no idea what is happening or being said BUT their reasoning is that the longer it goes on without negative news (Rafa going), it makes it more likely that it must be going to be positive news (Rafa staying).

Surely it is the opposite though???

This isn’t a case of a manager demanding higher wages or waiting to see if other clubs come in for him.

Absolutely no claims of Rafa Benitez’ wage expectations being a problem and even the Mike Ashley trolls aren’t trying to argue the manager doesn’t want to stay at St James Park.

This is simply the same issues that have been there throughout Rafa’s time at the club.

A lack of investment in the infrastructure (Academy, training complex etc) of the club and most importantly, a realistic transfer budget and freedom for the manager in terms of how that money is spent – in terms of pursuing the first choice transfer targets of his choosing.

As I indicate at the start, as in every transaction/deal, you need a willing buyer and a willing seller. If you are missing one or the other (or both!) then you have zero chance of an agreement being reached.

Which of course is the case when it comes to Mike Ashley still owning Newcastle United despite some 11 years of the owner claiming it is up for sale. Anybody who still thinks he is a willing seller is a fool.

With this current and most pressing issue though, is Rafa Benitez a willing seller of his services as a potential manager of NUFC in these years to come and is Mike Ashley a willing buyer?

Well, I don’t think Rafa Benitez could have made it any clearer that he wants to stay on as Newcastle United manager, he has said it often enough, wanting a long-term project for most/all of the 10 years he wants to continue as a manager, also repeating regularly what he has said from the start. That Newcastle United has massive potential if realistic levels of ambition are shown.

The price he is asking for him to sell his services and sign an NUFC contract extension, is that the club’s owner must agree to commit to backing him, cast-iron written guarantees to allow the right levels of club funds in the transfer market and the freedom to decide how they are spent and on whom. No more verbal broken ‘promises’ from the owner.

Mike Ashley has known all the way through these past three years that this is the asking price if he wants to ‘buy’ Rafa Benitez’ services beyond 30 June 2019.

Just to make absolutely sure, Mike Ashley even asked for and received in March, Rafa’s exact conditions that had to be met for him to stay.

So when they met on Thursday 16 May, Rafa Benitez knew exactly what his selling price was (what he had said all along for these past three years) and Mike Ashley knew what he had to offer to seal the deal.

The only scenario I can see now is that Mike Ashley has refused to move on his position and is relying on Rafa being desperate enough to take what is on offer.

The problem though is that Rafa Benitez is not a desperate seller, he is not Alan Pardew, John Carver, Joe Kinnear or Steve McClaren. If Mike Ashley isn’t willing to do what it takes, plenty of other clubs will be.

There is no way that the Spaniard is going to make himself a hostage once again to Ashley’s ‘generosity’, willing to approach each transfer window having to persuade the owner of what he needs.

Rafa wants a 100% guarantee of the total price being paid now, not vague promises on the never never.


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