Rafa Benitez reveals Mike Ashley knew needed new manager 2 months ago but instead did nothing
Rafa Benitez has said in a new interview that he doesn’t rule out returning as Newcastle manager in the future but that is far from being the most interesting thing he had to stay.
The now ex-NUFC boss revealing some key details of what went on with Mike Ashley.
The interview from China with The Mail on Sunday saw Rafa asked whether he would consider working at St James Park under new owners and the respected manager said that when his two and a half year contract ends with Dalian Yifang, he could well be interested in a return to the Premier League and having loved so much about his time at the club it would be an obvious consideration.
However, the circumstances around his departure are of far more interest.
The Mike Ashley PR machine has got the likes of Sky Sports and The Chronicle (and Kevin Nolan!) ready and willing to push out his propaganda.
Both of them pushing the line that the fault for no NUFC takeover so far lying with potential buyers rather than Mike Ashley, claiming no credible bid has been made for the club despite the BZG repeatedly saying otherwise. no rational explanation given either as to why any buyer would be dawdling, considering how big a mess there is to sort out at the club before the season starts.
The Chronicle also reached a new low on Saturday with claims that everything is ‘positive’ at the training ground, players only looking forward to the new season etc etc, as well as claims that Lee Charnley is hard at work frantically trying to find a new manager, with supposedly a credible plan in place to still buy four or five players.
This is at odds with what the overwhelming majority of Newcastle fans are saying, instead they see/believe that this is just another typical Ashley farce, happy to let things drag with no new manager or new signings, the intention once again to spend as little as possible. Whilst as for the takeover, it will only happen if Mike Ashley gets far more cash and additional benefits than the club is actually worth.
The fans certainly appear to be backed up by Rafa Benitez in this latest interview.
He has revealed that after meeting Mike Ashley on 16 May in London, he (Rafa) made clear he wouldn’t be signing a new contract. So for these past two months the owner has known fine well he needed a new manager (or head coach…) but instead has been happy to do nothing about it.
Back in March, Rafa Benitez told reporters that Mike Ashley had asked for a detailed plan of what the manager wanted to persuade him to stay and Rafa supplied it. Benitez was asked at every press conference after that whether he had heard back from Ashley and the answer was always no.
Rafa Benitez in this new interview making clear he was astonished then to be asked at that 16 May meeting what needed to happen for him to stay, Mike Ashley having been given a detailed plan two months earlier. It becoming quite clear that Ashley was once again just messing the manager and fans around, with no intention of trying to persuade him to stay.
Rafa was shown on Sky Sports footage back at Newcastle’s training ground on 17 June and fans immediately were saying that he was there to say his goodbyes to staff and clear his desk, this idea was ridiculed by Keith Downie of Sky Sports at the time.
The lack of class from Mike Ashley and wanting to drag things out to the very last, was shown by that statement on 24 June saying Rafa Benitez would’t be staying. Rafa revealing that only a few minutes before that NUFC official statement went out, the Spaniard received an email reminding him he was still manager and under contract until the end of the month, the email failing though to inform Rafa that they were going to put out that pubic statement.
This clearly signals, at least to me, that it was Mike Ashley insisting on Rafa being formally the manager until the very last minute, in order to delay the expectancy of them appointing a replacement, for whatever twisted/daft reasons we are sadly set to find out in the coming days, or more likely, weeks.
Hence we then get the likes of The Chronicle happy to push the Mike Ashley line that they are trying their very hardest to find the very best replacement, as quickly as possible…meanwhile the club/squad is in absolute turmoil/chaos.
Rafa Benitez speaking to The Mail on Sunday:
Rafa Benitez says that he knew after his first post-season meeting with club owner Mike Ashley back in May that he would not be staying at Newcastle United for another year.
In an interview with The Mail on Sunday from Dalian in China, where he is preparing for his Chinese Super League game against Henan Jianye on Sunday, Benitez says the conditions attached to continuing at the club for another year meant staying was never a viable option.
That much became clear when Ashley and Benitez met on May 16 in London. Contact continued in June but there was never any real prospect of Benitez staying, given the differing visions of club and manager.
Asked about the breakdown of talks with Newcastle and Ashley, Benitez said: ‘I would like not to talk too much about Newcastle United because we need to move forward. They need to think about the new season and I have a great challenge ahead of me. But I will say after the meeting in London on May 16 it was a clear decision for me and a few days later we told the club that we would not extend the contract.’
The Mail on Sunday understands that after the first meeting in London — which Ashley attended with managing director Lee Charnley, advisor Justin Barnes and Benitez’s representatives — Newcastle asked Benitez what he needed in order to stay.
That surprised Benitez’s negotiating team as they thought such things had been made clear in preliminary talks in March.
Ashley’s team insisted throughout that they wanted Benitez to stay. However, when Benitez returned to the training ground on Monday, June 17, he cleared out his study in anticipation of his departure.
The club emailed Benitez’s representatives on Monday, June 24 — reminding him that he was under contract until the end of the month. However, a few minutes after that email was received, the club issued the statement announcing Benitez’s departure.
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