While we don’t think Rafa is really contemplating leaving Newcastle anytime soon, he was definitely not happy in January when the club refused to pay the asking price for Andros Townsend, when Crystal Palace wanted a £2M loan fee for half a season loan and then the full release clause of £13M for the England International
That was £2M more than we sold him for in late June and if you put two and two together Mike Ashley didn’t want to pay that £2M, but presumably we will go back in for Townsend for £13M in the summer.
But it was probably that pettiness of not wanting to pay the extra £2M that Rafa was warned about by people like Alan Shearer and possibly Kevin Keegan before he agreed to come to Newcastle.
Rafa Benitez on March 11th last year
When you are trying to make a club great again and get promotion, which means an extra £150M on average a year, worrying about £2M is not the right attitude – you need to think much bigger than that.
Rafa could well have been questioning Newcastle and Mike Ashley’s ambitions in late January.
It’s Rafa’s one year anniversary at Newcastle tomorrow and it’s been a great year that started off very badly when we couldn’t avoid relegation.
But Rafa showed his dedication to Newcastle by agreeing to stay on and manage in the second division and we are currently top of the league.
We have at least a cushion of 7 points over Huddersfield, even if they win their game in hand, because of our much better goal difference.
And the Terriers have 10 games to make up 7 points on Newcastle.
Rafa was asked where he would be another year and he refused to directly answer that and gave this reply to the question and then talked about his one year at the club:
“I will be here tomorrow trying to win against Fulham and then after, we will see.”
“I didn’t realise it was a full year until I was told. Another year, that means you are getting older. It has been a great experience and the main thing is to see the club going in the right direction.”
“The fans are enjoying this time because everything is going well.” “Hopefully things will continue going in the right way.”
“Before I came, everybody was talking about a massive club and a massive city and fans behind the team.” “That is clear for me, you can see in every home and away game.”
“In the city, everybody is loving the club.” “They love the name of the club and the stature.”
“In terms of pressure and all these things, you know what can happen when you go to a massive club.” “We are in the Championship but we are still a massive club.”
“We have to have the winning mentality you need, but still be humble and work hard.”
“I have some good memories. ” “To be relegated was the worst thing, but after, the reaction of everyone has been fantastic.”
“We have had games, like Norwich and QPR away where the team has been doing so well.” “This week we have had very good results against the teams at the top of the table so they are more good memories.”
“Hopefully the best one will be at the end of the season.”
“I don’t think about the next games. Every week, everything can change, we have to just think about this game, that is the best way.”
Rafa doesn’t like to answer questions not related to the next game at any press conference at the best of times – so it was probably just that why he refused to answer where he would be in a year’s time.
But it would be an absolute tragedy if Newcastle cannot keep Rafa Benitez on Tyneside – something the fans will never forgive the hierarchy for he does leave the club.
Everything should be OK – but with Newcastle you never really know and Mike Ashley has proved in the past he is very adept at messing things up.
That’s the concern we have.