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The Times scoop massive Rafa Benitez leaving Newcastle United interview

2 years ago
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A week ago Mike Ashley put out a statement saying Rafa Benitez would not be staying once his three year contract ended.

The NUFC owner not even having the courtesy to inform the manager that statement was going out.

Earlier this morning, Rafa Benitez put out his own official statement.

The now ex-manager thanking everybody who had helped him in his time on Tyneside.

Rafa making clear he had wanted to stay but that Mike Ashley had made it impossible to do so.

Monday late afternoon has seen the Spaniard flesh that out a whole lot more, the much decorated manager giving an exclusive leaving interview to George Caulkin of the Times.

The article confirms that rumours earlier today are correct. Chinese media had claimed Rafa Benitez was set to be named the new Dalian Yifang manager as earlier as Tuesday possibly and George Caulkin confirms that this is indeed where he is off to.

A few short extract below but the full interview is a must read.

Rafa Benitez confirming that he really wanted to stay but it becoming clear to him that Mike Ashley didn’t feel the same.

The owner not prepared to help Benitez progress the team and club.

As he has always believed, Rafa Benitez talks about the unfulfilled potential that sadly remains just that, unfulfilled and the club in a total mess now, with the cloak of Rafa respectability stripped away.

Maybe the anecdote about the training complex sums it up.

Announced in 2013 by Mike Ashley as essential if Newcastle were to be able to compete and set to be completed by 2016 at the latest, instead not a brick had been laid when Rafa Benitez arrived in 2016.

Rafa says he was introduced to the architect back then and made some suggestions on how best the state of the art new training complex could be designed. Instead, three years later the new state of the art training complex had been scaled down to just painting the walls of what has been there for years.

A few extracts from the excellent George Caulkin exclusive with Rafa Benitez for The Times;

Off to China:

Benítez’s contract at Newcastle, for so long such a source of angst, expired last night; his reluctant departure has sparked a guttural howl from fans. By now he will be in the Far East, where he is set to join Dalian Yifang of the Chinese Super League, which just goes to show how quickly football can pivot. In transit, he spoke to The Times for his only interview.

Unfulfilled potential:

“I’m just disappointed we couldn’t achieve more, that we couldn’t compete and reach the real potential of this fantastic club.

“What I said from day one is what I still feel — I can see the potential of the team, the club, the city, the fans,” he says. “You cannot go away from home and take 9,000 fans without that potential. It means there’s something big there, something really important, as long as you manage it properly.”

Wanted to stay:

“I wanted to stay, 100 per cent. I wanted to develop a project, to be competitive, to compete in the cups and to be as close as possible to the top of the league, but you have to have the tools. If you don’t, then you suffer, because you’re at the bottom of the table, every point is massive and you know that a mistake could mean relegation. That would be a disaster for the whole city.

“If the people at the top of the club had the same ideas (as me), I would still be there.”

Did Mike Ashley want him to stay?:

So trust had gone at Newcastle? “Yes,” he says. “We didn’t have that, so I had to choose.” Does he believe that Ashley and Charnley were eager for him to carry on? “Obviously, I had the feeling they were really pleased for me to stay at the beginning, but later on, when we had different views in terms of how to move forward, I couldn’t see this support,” he says. “I couldn’t see this clear desire I could feel at the beginning.”

New training ground:

“When I came to Newcastle, they gave me the plans for the new training ground, I was talking to the architect about changing a few things,” he says, smiling now. “And after three years . . . they painted the walls.

“If you want to attract players, it’s about the facilities, the contract, the city, the way you treat them, the way you treat the agents. If you want to keep them happy, you keep improving. If you want to have a good atmosphere, a real bond, you have to give players the right facilities for when they hang around together. We had that at a lot of clubs. It’s just the way.”

The 16 May 2019 meeting in London:

“I was expecting we would finish the meeting and everything would be done,” he says. “That was my thought. I thought I would be staying.

“Common sense says you’ve been successful on the pitch, you’d reached the target the club wanted which was to stay in the Premier League and the same in terms of business — they’d made a profit. Any owner would surely say, ‘okay, on and off the pitch, you’ve delivered, so this will be an easy conversation’ and then you try to finalise the details. And it was not like that.”

To read the full interview which is essential reading go HERE, if you aren’t registered already you can read the Rafa Benitez interview for free by registering with The Times

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