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Rafa Benitez asked by Alan Shearer about approach by new Newcastle United owners

4 weeks ago

A fascinating read, Rafa Benitez interviewed by Alan Shearer.

An excellent long read on Saturday morning for The Athletic and naturally, most of it concentrating on events this season and his ill-fated spell at Everton.

Rafa Benitez just the latest in a long line of managers driven out by the Everton fans, though in this case it was slightly different, as so many Everton supporters protested about the appointment even before it was made!

Lasting just over six months, Rafa Benitez had a Premier League record of five wins, four draws and ten defeats on his 19 Everton PL games, 19 points from 19 matches.

After the Everton fans got their wish, the Goodison side have won three, drawn one and lost eight Premier League games, just 10 points from 12 PL matches. Results getting worse not better, with Everton set to drop into the relegation zone on Sunday of Burnley pick up more points at home to Wolves, than the scouse mackems pick up at Liverpool.

Anyway, more interestingly, Alan Shearer did of course also ask Rafa Benitez about Newcastle United (see below).

Shearer asking the question, if it was true that the new Newcastle United owners had approached him, after buying out Mike Ashley in October 2021? Rafa Benitez appearing to indicate that this had indeed been the case, when comparing it to when he was at Newcastle United and also had an approach from another club, only to turn it down and stating that breaking a commitment, especially mid-season, wasn’t for him.

Rafa Benitez though making it clear just how desperate he had been for the takeover to go through at Newcastle United when working under Mike Ashley. The former NUFC manager then saying it was obvious to him that Ashley had no intention of keeping Rafa Benitez at Newcastle after his three year contract ended.

Rafa Benitez congratulates Eddie Howe on doing a ‘great job’ now at Newcastle United and for me, our former manager comes across as 100% genuine when talking about NUFC.

Rafa declaring ‘When I talk about Newcastle, it will always be good. My relationship with the fans, the city, with our players, will always be part of me. That is forever. All I’m doing is enjoying their success from outside.’

Everybody has now moved on of course and Newcastle United fans loving the job that Eddie Howe is doing.

It will be one of those case of we’ll never know what would / could have happened if Rafa Benitez had returned to St James Park.

What we can be sure of though, at least in my opinion, is that when he was at Newcastle United, Rafa gave it everything and did a great job in very difficult (Mike Ashley) circumstances. He will always find a warm welcome on Tyneside and good luck to him in whatever he does next.

Rafa Benitez interviewed by Alan Shearer for The Athletic, an extract regarding Newcastle United…

I’m told that when Ashley finally, thankfully, departed in October, a speculative call went out to Rafa or people close to him; Would he come back? But he was at Everton by then; he had committed himself and he does not break contracts. “The directors of Everton were worried about what the press were saying, but I told them, ‘Listen, if I give my word, I will try to do my best until the end’,” he says now.

Which is all very well, except that Everton’s commitment the other way turned out to be pretty flimsy; six and a bit months after arriving, he was out. Should he not have been more selfish? “I did what I had to do,” he says. “I did the same when I was at Newcastle and another club approached me but I said, ‘No, I will stay’.

“At the end of my time at Newcastle, I was waiting and waiting, but they didn’t sell the club. OK, fine. I had to leave. Later on, I was waiting again and they didn’t get permission (for the takeover to happen) and then Everton came in and I went there.”

Does part of him not wish he had stayed, that he had gritted his teeth and carried on under Ashley until the breakthrough happened? “I couldn’t,” he says. “I couldn’t stay. It wasn’t even a negotiation at the end — I don’t think they had any interest in keeping me there.”

The irony, the sliding door, is that Newcastle now would be ideal for him: the grand design, the building and improving and infrastructure. “Yes, I know what it means to create and develop a project properly,” he says. There is a shrug. “One of my main problems is that I think too much about the club. I don’t think about myself. I like to improve players and bring players who will stay and be an asset for the future.” He shrugs again. “You do what you have to do.”

But he is “really pleased for Newcastle, to see everybody enjoying it, because we were there for three years without any money and fighting for everything and now you can see them trying to do something different. They are doing well and it’s clear that Eddie (Howe) is doing a great job.

“When I talk about Newcastle, it will always be good. My relationship with the fans, the city, with our players, will always be part of me. That is forever. All I’m doing is enjoying their success from outside.”


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