Rafa Benitez was interviewed by the Telegraph last week when he had the team in southern Spain during a warm weather break for his first-team squad.
The four days in Murcia seemed to go very well with double training sessions every day ending with a 1-1 draw with Royal Antwerp on Sunday – a game in which we created many chances but could only score one goal.
We also missed a penalty right at the end of the game.
We have mentioned before that Rafa has taken the full burden of keeping Newcastle in the Premier League this season.
We haven’t heard from Mike Ashley, and he doesn’t attend the games yet if Newcastle are relegated it will knock close to £175M off the value of Newcastle United, and we will lose £100M at least next season.
Rafa Benitez – it’s been a needlessly difficult season for the manager
We know all this because it happened two years ago.
Mike Ashley started off the summer by reneging on his agreements with Rafa, and it ended with Rafa not having a good enough team, and by mid-January, he was desperate for reinforcements.
It seems that only then did Mike Ashley talk to him and help to get three loan players into the club – two of which – goalkeeper Martin Dubravka and Kenedy – have made a difference to the team.
The third loan signing – Islam Slimani – is still injured but hopefully, the striker will be ready for the all-important game on 31st March against Huddersfield.
But Telegraph reporter Luke Edwards believes working for Mike Ashley has been wearing on the world-class manager this season.
When asked if he had enjoyed this season Rafa said no – but was satisfied with what he had been able to achieve.
Hopefully, Rafa will be a lot happier when we are safe from relegation.
It’s what Luke Edwards has said in the article that is worrying to us.
This is some of what Edwards put in the article:
“But all is not serene. The 57-year-old loves this job, the club and the city.”
“He enjoys the sort of adulation not seen on Tyneside since Robson was in charge 15 years ago, but he has found working for a man like Ashley difficult to say the least.”
“Yet, still he stays, offering hope of harmony where once there was only discord and for all of the political and economic distractions that come with working for Ashley, the Spaniard remains happiest on the training ground.”
“Newcastle have a manager who only wants the best for the team, but they have an owner who does not seem to understand why that matters.”
“The relationship between the two most powerful men at St James’ Park remains strained and until is it is healed, Benitez’s future will remain a cause for concern.”
We had hoped there was a decent relationship between Rafa and the owner.
But if Mike Ashley thinks he can keep messing with the manager, then Rafa could walk.
Of course, we hope that doesn’t happen, but we wouldn’t put anything past Ashley, given his record over eleven long and (very) painful years as owner of the club.
What do you think?