New from Rafa Benitez as he says Mike Ashley is being less than truthful about his departure
Rafa Benitez has been discussing various issues, including his arrival to and departure from Newcastle United.
The former NUFC boss has given a big interview to Four Four Two magazine in their new issue and is also the cover star.
Rafa says his decision to stay on after relegation in 2016 was a lot to do with the support of the Newcastle fans.
As for how he feels now…””I still love the city, the fans and the players.”
The key moment in his time at St James Park was when Rafa Benitez took the team up as champions: ‘When we got promoted, that was the time to grow…’
The lack of ambition shown by Mike Ashley was excruciating, refusing to build on that momentum. The likes of Huddersfield and Brighton with far larger net spends than NUFC’s £20m in summer 2017, you then see what Wolves have done after promotion by backing the manager, even Sheffield United had a net spend of £42m this summer after getting promotion.
Mike Ashley claimed Rafa only left Newcastle to get more money elsewhere and the former manager says he can’t allow that to go unchallenged ‘because he [Mike Ashley] knows it’s not like that.’
As Rafa Benitez says, if money was his motivation he wouldn’t have risked staying at Newcastle after relegation and could have taken up any number of offers elsewhere.
Rafa Benitez speaking to Four Four Two:
“We thought [when we arrived at Newcastle in March 2016], ‘The team isn’t too bad – maybe we can do it [stay up]. But when I arrived, we had 13 players out injured. Then we were unlucky in the first few games.
“We were relegated and Tottenham were playing for second place but we won 5-1 [in the final game of the season] with 10 men and the fans were singing my name. That was a key point in my decision. The fans were behind me and all the players.
“We decided to take a massive risk by staying for the Championship because it’s such a difficult league. The main thing was to get promoted – and we won the league.
“When we got promoted, that was the time to grow…
“OK, we finished 10th, then 13th. It was fine with the resources we had.
“It was a relegation battle [last season – 2018/19]. We didn’t win the first few games but we were consistent in doing things right and in the end we stayed up.
“The players fought until the end and the fans were behind the team. We had unity. That was our strength.
“My idea was to grow, to compete and to be sure we could challenge. But there was another vision and that was it. If you see the profit of the team in the last few years, we did what we needed to do to be successful. And that, it’s up to him [Mike Ashley].
“I still love the city, the fans and the players.
“My last game as manager was emotional: we won 4-0 at Fulham and the supporters were singing my name at the end, trying to convince me to stay.
“I have a lot of very good memories. I wish them and Steve Bruce all the best. But I couldn’t stay there just trying to survive for another year.
“I was waiting for Newcastle until the last minute.
“But because there was no takeover and nothing was changing, I didn’t want to stay in another survival battle.
“I said, ‘Which are the options we have at the moment?’ The top sides in Europe weren’t available so I said, ‘OK, I have this opportunity [at Dalian Yifang]’.
“People say, ‘Oh, but the league isn’t strong’ – yes, I know, but it’s a project and they want to do well.
“I have to answer that [Mike Ashley claiming Rafa only left Newcastle to get more money elsewhere] because he knows it’s not like that.
“I wouldn’t have stayed in the Championship and said no to massive offers if I was just thinking about that.
“I waited until the last minute this summer. But I don’t want to create more mess around that situation by talking more about it.
“I don’t want the fans thinking, ‘Rafa is talking too much about Newcastle’. Now it’s the time to move forward.”
To order the new issue of Four Four Two featuring Rafa Benitez as the cover star and his whole interview go HERE
If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to [email protected]