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Rafa Benitez future shrouded in doubt as his league season in China ends on small high

5 days ago
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Rafa Benitez has seen his league season come to an end in China.

The big question now is whether this will also prove to be his final match with Dalian Yifang.

The former Real Madrid and Newcastle United boss has another two years remaining on his contract.

However, he has been increasingly linked with an early return to Europe, especially the Premier League, as clubs that are struggling sack their managers and others consider doing the same.

Rafa Benitez has now been with Dalian Yifang for exactly five months after Mike Ashley forced him out of Newcastle United at the end of June.

The Spanish manager was brought in mid-season with the initial task of pulling the Chinese club away from the threat of relegation and he went on a run of five wins, one draw and only one defeat in his first seven games.

Mission quickly completed and the club realistically safe from relegation.

However, since reaching that safety with a win on 2 August 2019, it has been pretty much all downhill since then.

Only one win in 120 days from that point ahead of Sunday, had seen Dalian Yifang drift to the end of the season.

That season ended today, with Rafa Benitez and Salomon Rondon ending the campaign on a small high.

Playing against Beijing Renhe, Rafa and his players were up against the team rock bottom of the table who were relegated a while ago.

Salomon Rondon setting a win in motion on 57 minutes with the first goal and Carrasco adding another late on for a 2-0 win.

That was Rondon’s fifth goal in seven starts (four sub appearances) in the Chinese league since rejoining Rafa Benitez.

The season ending means since 2 August, it is only two wins, with two draws and six defeats.

Rafa Benitez ending his first season in China with a record of Played 17 won 7 drawn 3 Lost 7.

A new round of interviews in recent weeks with media in Europe, mostly with English newspapers and magazines, has predictably increased speculation that the Spaniard will return imminently to a European club, probably Premier League, in the very near future.

Rafa Benitez has though been at pains to stress in these interviews that he is working throughout the Chinese club to improve it longer-term. The new near £200m training complex is due to open shortly and Rafa has already brought in 20 coaches from Spain to work across all age groups.

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