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Opinion

You only have to ask yourself would Rafa Benitez have chosen end of May for contract talks?

3 months ago
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We can only be sure about one thing when it comes to what is happening in the talks between Rafa Benitez and Mike Ashley & his minions.

Nobody in the media has a clue about what is or isn’t being said.

The media only vary in terms of how much they embarrass themselves in trying to pretend they know what is or isn’t happening.

A certain local newspaper way out in the lead on that one…

Whilst we can only guess at what is and isn’t happening between the club’s owner and manager, we are able to look at the circumstances surrounding the meeting(s)/talks and make certain judgements.

Take the two main protagonists.

One has a reputation for professionalism, a desire for getting things in place as early as possible, renowned for his attention to detail and pride in the job he is doing. He wants to pull everybody together, is very inclusive, get all parties working as a cohesive force for the greater good.

The other, sees no urgency or need for proper preparation. Some would call it repeated neglect. Happy to let things drag on and if the worst comes to the worst, who cares if the prospects/reputation of the club are negatively affected. A very divisive figure who thinks divide and rule is the way to go for his own selfish aims.

It is now 72 days since Newcastle beat Everton on 9 March. That entertaining 3-2 victory saw Rafa and his players reach 34 points after a run of five wins and a draw from their last eight PL games, only two defeats.

The final Premier League table, eight games later, saw Cardiff only reach 34 points and a goal difference 29 goals worse than Newcastle’s.

Effectively Newcastle United reached safety that day when Jordan Pickford lost the plot, not mathematical safety but we all knew that was job done.

It is no coincidence then surely, that Rafa Benitez later revealed that it was back in March that Mike Ashley passed down the message that he would like to see the manager’s exact conditions for signing an extension, which Rafa duly sent on to the club’s owner via Lee Charnley.

When any of you are wondering exactly how we are sitting here on 20 May 2019 wondering what the f… is going on: You only have to ask yourself, would Rafa Benitez have chosen the end of May for contract talks?

Considering all the mistrust built up over these past three years thanks to Mike Ashley’s undermining of the manager and repeated broken promises, you would surely have expected some decisive early action and signs of goodwill from the NUFC owner, if he intended at all for this to have a happy outcome (this is happy for anybody apart from himself).

My own personal feeling, is that at the very latest, Rafa Benitez realised last summer (2018) he was totally wasting his time here. After a joke of a summer 2018 transfer window, the manager deciding at that point simply to do a professional job to the best of his ability, to try and avoid relegation for both the fans and his own integrity/CV, before accepting he would have no choice but to walk away at the end of his contract in June 2019.

We all hope for better but nothing that has happened in recent months gives you any encouragement.

Rafa Benitez has nothing to lose having this last minute meeting/communication with Ashley, just on the off chance that something might have changed. Plus of course Rafa is still employed by Mike Ashley/Newcastle United for these next six weeks, so in essence you could even say it is simply part of his job to attend any meetings his employer might fancy having, whilst still on the payroll.

Just like everybody else, Mike Ashley knew that Rafa’s contract ended this summer and no reason at all that months and months ago he couldn’t have had meetings and come to an agreement back then with his manager, that once safety was assured, there would be an already agreed contract to sign.

It simply makes no sense, not for the good of Newcastle United anyway, to have not had all this sorted out long before now.

The fact that we got all the way through March with nothing happening despite safety realistically already reached, then the whole of April after Rafa had given Ashley his conditions to stay, then the final matches, including Fulham when Ashley was at the game…only to then choose the first day of the transfer window to eventually have a meeting.

Other clubs are making signings whilst Mike Ashley sits back admiring the way he runs Newcastle United, not realising just how lucky he is to be at a club were Rafa Benitez knocked on his door because he could see the potential, the potential of a club that can average more than 51,000 AFTER relegation.

Just imagine if before that last home game of the season had kicked off, Rafa Benitez had walked onto the pitch as an announcement was made confirming he’d agreed a new contract and it was now full steam ahead, the manager satisfied he now had the right backing.

The entire city/fanbase would be buzzing and that is without even spending a penny in the transfer market yet.

Things are obviously still being done the Mike Ashley way. Until that changes then anything good that does happen, will be purely accidental.

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