Guillem Balague – It Will Take A Lot For Rafa To Stay At Newcastle

Guillem Balague knows a lot about Rafa Benitez – he understands his character, and he knows his history at each of the clubs he’s managed.

The Sky Sports Spanish reporter has also written a book on Rafa’s time at Liverpool – A Season On The Brink.

So his opinions are to be taken seriously, and he has written a BBC column on Thursday; in the article, he has addressed Rafa’s situation at Newcastle.

It doesn’t paint a very positive picture with Rafa having been let down too many times by owner Mike Ashley over the last two years.

Sky Sports Spanish reporter  Guillem Balague

This is what Guillem has said in his BBC article about Rafa’s current situation and what has to happen for him to stay at Newcastle.

“Despite having recorded Newcastle’s worst 10-game start to a season since the 19th century, back-to-back wins means they are up to 14th in the table.”

“Tottenham are the only side from the top six to have beaten Benitez’s Newcastle by more than two goals (August 2017).”

“And in his past eight Premier League games against the top six he has either won (twice) or lost by a single goal.”

“All of which means one thing: Newcastle are close but clearly not close enough.”

“Benitez’s contract comes to an end next summer. As it stands he has a renewal offer on the table.”

“But to be signed the club have to show enough commitment with a project that should be around improving facilities and results, not just survival.”

“Should Salomon Rondon continue to score for his new club then he may will dig them out of a hole and guarantee survival; and once again Ashley will believe his approach has been vindicated.”

“But it will probably take considerably more than that to ensure Benitez will be committing his future to the city that has adopted him as one of their own.”

“And that is a real shame.”

It wouldn’t surprise us if Guillem talked to Rafa before he wrote the BBC article last week.

But Rafa’s demands have not changed – it’s just that it seems Mike Ashley is again gambling with Newcastle United’s future.

In this case, the question is whether he will do enough to keep Rafa on Tyneside.

Or more accurately whether he wants to do enough to keep Rafa on Tyneside.

What do you think?

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Comments welcome.

28 comments so far

  • Lee Charnley Bunga Party

    Nov 24, 2018 at 10:20 AM

    Comment #1

    Just feels like we needed Ashley to sell last season I just can’t see him leaving now!!

    Once Brexit comes billionaires like him are going to have such an easy life they will probably be able to do whatever they want while the little people get screwed over even more than we do the now!!!

  • Lee Charnley Bunga Party

    Nov 24, 2018 at 10:22 AM

    Comment #2

    Rafa would be mad to sign a new contract with us could easily achieve more with say Leicester who also have a great fan base

  • Lindisfarne

    Nov 24, 2018 at 10:41 AM

    Comment #3

    Guardian – Benítez bids to keep climbing at Burnley
    The Monday night fixture is a feat of scheduling that transforms Newcastle’s shortest away trip into far more of a nuisance than it needs to be for travelling fans. Back-to-back victories have moved Newcastle out of the drop zone and they face a reasonably kind run of fixtures, with five games against bottom-half teams between now and their Boxing Day visit to Anfield. “I think the international break is bad for us, but at the same time it gives us time to recover and spend time with our families,” said Rafael Benítez. “We can come back with more energy and if we can get another couple of good results, I’ve always said November and December will be so important for us.” A lot done, more to do for Benítez, whose team now face a Burnley side that has also got just two league wins to its name. It is unlikely to be a game for the purists, but its importance cannot be overstated for either side. BG

  • Lindisfarne

    Nov 24, 2018 at 10:49 AM

    Comment #4

    The only positives that I can take from this article are that it is only the opinion of Guillem Balague, as there are no quotes, sources or briefings being reported. Whilst there is an incredible amount of truth to what is written, there is always an opportunity that an alternative course of events may happen.

  • sing in the corner

    Nov 24, 2018 at 10:59 AM

    Comment #6

    Someone at the Guardian is gonna get a bollocking

  • sing in the corner

    Nov 24, 2018 at 11:07 AM

    Comment #7

    Still they could always just say he/she was hacked!

  • jesperfuglsang - capt'n awesome of the lemon crew

    Nov 24, 2018 at 11:11 AM

    Comment #8

    Sure Kermit! Sure thing….

    Do let us know when you have some results?

  • c-dog

    Nov 24, 2018 at 11:16 AM

    Comment #9

    Guillem said it, a shame…

  • Genjikai

    Nov 24, 2018 at 11:39 AM

    Comment #10

    Sing in the corner.
    I agree i think if more of the city turned out to protest outside the ground. Itd be more effective.
    I get people want to watch the match, but if you love the toon. People should turn up. We need rid of ashley now like.
    Jib even if ashley turned the corner now, id still want him to sell. Hes had too many chances for him to change his way. Hes took the pis out of us. He dosent deserve to be an owner of a football club.

  • magscar

    Nov 24, 2018 at 11:41 AM

    Comment #11

    I supported the arrival of MG and still wish them well but have always doubted whether any group (especially whilst Rafa is here) could effectively organise a boycott of a match given the disparate nature of our match going fans.

    Ok several thousand will possibly respond to cal but without massive numbers giving the match a swerve it could end up as a PR “own goal”.

    I appreciate the Group are seeking and listening to suggestions from meeting attendees (and others?) as to how to take the fight to Ashley and looking for majority support on the options but I fear that as well intended as they are, in what has to be a long drawn out fight they need to somehow galvanise many many others who can’t even get to the meetings in Labour club or Irish centre.

    As an aside how many match goers or former ST holders who post on here went to any of the meetings. Off top of my head I recall one only OP but there may have been more .

    This isn’t a criticism but a serious attempt to highlight the massive difficulty in turning social media “activists” into those who are able ( we all have lives to lead) or motivated enough to attend meetings.

    The Group is applauded by most but I recall little discussion on here of the options they publicised a few weeks ago. In fact I remember posting at the time of the fuss over the Ashley salute at Pizzagate that there had been a Group meeting that same night which had arrived at various options for future protest but most were happy to be sidetracked by that non-event and vent their anger at that instead.

    This Blog has never in my opinion been a microcosm of the Match day fans – not a problem with that at all but posters and readers looking to voice what ought to be happening to oust Ashley and being scathing of those who will still go to matches need to bear that in mind.

    Yes i think most if not all match goers want shot of Ashley but attempts at boycotts walkouts in the past have been patchy and so many will wait until the large numbers of those participating make it seem worth them joining in.

    Apathy, lack of belief that certain protests can work, waiting for enough to act before you commit, not wanting to miss any match whatever, willing to protest but not on matchday in ground – these are some of views of match goers and are simply human nature.

    MG have to keep going but need to “box clever” and not go for the big option of matchday boycotts until they are sure they can actually marshal sufficient numbers to either make an immediate impact or gain confidence that the number of those boycotting will easily ratchet up numbers for another boycott by drawing in hesitant matchgoers.

    Personally i have reservations that this will happen successfuly unless Rafa goes ( which I don’t want!) when there will be a spontaneous and unco-ordinated reaction at first.

    I haven’t contributed much of late as there is little i can find to add to a Blog consumed by petty feuds, those merely exercising their wit rather than insight or comment, blighted with incessant puerile witch hunting antics of a frog ( supported by some who whilst I don’t always agree with are posters who really should know better) and a decreasing number of open minded posters looking to discuss their views ( shared or not) without being ridiculed or ignored.

    Cue the hysterical shill nonsense with pathetic applause from those who really should be bettter than that if the have been on the Blog as long as I have.

    No the PR battle isn’t on here, never was and couldn’t be won on here anyway – if you want to do something join MG!

  • lesh

    Nov 24, 2018 at 11:51 AM

    Comment #12

    On the subject of trying to unseat Ashley – a little bit of lateral thinking led me to the facts that

    * Buckingham Palace expects holders of Royal Warrants to uphold high standards in everything they do.

    * House of Fraser has a Royal Warrant as Outfitters and Suppliers of Household Goods to……. HM The Queen.

    * Ashley owns HoF

    * Ashley’s hardly renowned for high standards of merchandise – that’s by the by – but more importantly, his methods and business practices are hardly the epitome of excellence!

    * Royal Warrants can be removed from holders – Harrods is an example

    Now if all of these little snippets could be brought together without incurring legal action from Ashley………

  • magscar

    Nov 24, 2018 at 11:54 AM

    Comment #13

    I think the dilemma for Rafa is that he made a considered committment at a certain stage of his career to join what he personally saw as a revivable sleeping giant.

    He has been thwarted in much of his attempts to stabilise and grow club but has been willing to hang in there as he still has the vision but is reaching a crossroads.

    He will need to assess can he get enough out of Ashley to make it worthwhile signing say a rolling contract or does he finally accept that he is doing the managerial equivalent of “throwing good money after bad” and reluctant that he may be to seek a new long term project it is now the sensible option.

    I still believe that he hasn’t yet given up and there is sense in him looking for negotiation but he is obviously closer to the problem than any of us so only he knows exactly how he feels and what he believes is possible

  • magscar

    Nov 24, 2018 at 12:01 PM

    Comment #14

    With that I wil leave it to the plague of frogs – apparently in Bible God sent those to convince Pharoah to let his people go ( some sort of paralell on here ? Ashley let us go?) Suppose shouldbe careful what i wish for as it’s lice if that doesn’t work 🙂

  • Online Guy

    Nov 24, 2018 at 12:01 PM

    Comment #15

    What most Ashley and anti Magpie group knockers have not cottoned on to is that four thousand people are already boycotting home games . Newcastle v Bournmouth. 49k .
    Newcastle v Watford 49k , that’s 4000 down on capacity .

    Don’t tell me it’s unattractive opposition . It’s 4 thousand people down two games running 8000.

    Well done to those people who voted with their feet and will not be taken for mugs by a greedy exploitive owner.

    49 k in a stadium that usually has an attendance of 53k minus 4000 people, each game.

    The Ashley effect gathers pace. Well done those people.

    Well done the Magpie group .

  • lesh

    Nov 24, 2018 at 12:09 PM

    Comment #16


    Before I say anything more, I must say that although a lifetime fan if NUFC and an expat Geordie who hasn’t been to a match for years, I support the idea of match boycotts, late walk-ins etc. However, when protesting, organisers need to be practical and realistic – mass boycotts of SJP ain’t gonna happen, nor will orchestrated and timed walk-ins.

    As you say, The Magpie Group really needs to tap into the wider fanbase and embrace all fans including media aimed at NUFC fans in particular. Has TMG approached Ed for an opinion? Has it approached those behind other blogs such as The Mag, et al for opinion and involvement?

    Any anti-Ashley campaign has to be slick yet realistic and the more fans involved in strategy etc, the better.

  • magscar

    Nov 24, 2018 at 12:12 PM

    Comment #17


    I don’t think it is as simple as 4K deciding to jointly boycott and certainly not to do with MG ( did they ask anyone to do so?). I

    I suspect there are a lot of forces at play but individual disenchantment with Ashley will be in there

  • magscar

    Nov 24, 2018 at 12:27 PM

    Comment #18


    Ed has already publicised the Group and will no doubt continue to do so but would he want to become a mouthpiece for it ? I think he likes to stay away from the “politics” as it were and not crusade for any particular grouping . He has expressed a personal opinion that boycotts affect matchs.

    I often wonder how many match goers use this Blog – no way of knowing but my guess is not a high percenatge not least because of the contributions made. The make up of the crowd has changed a great deal since the late 60’s when I first went

    Publicity, protests etc can help with reaching the tipping point but Ashley won’t be forced into accepting an offer he finds risable ( it is what it is with him like it or not). I do not think there is a quick fix here and it will be a war of attrition – have we all got the stomach and stamina for it – i don’t know but the MG have to keep trying until it becomes clear they can’t win or lose individual heart.

  • sing in the corner

    Nov 24, 2018 at 12:43 PM

    Comment #19

    Good, reasoned stuff Magscar. Hope you keep posting.

    My position the MG isn’t perfect, but it’s a great effort given its a difficult task harnessing all the different factions and opinions. Therefore I will support it as currently the best chance of unsettling Ashley. It’s the idea that needs support, not the indviduals involved, their perceived good or bad moves, what you think of them etc. It’s what we have, maybe it will develop and change given time and in response to the owner’s moves…but to do that they need some backing from fans, who need to decide wether they want to, through inaction, allow Ashley to continue in the vein he seems set on, or not. Focussing on that choice might be better than quibbling over the detail.

  • sing in the corner

    Nov 24, 2018 at 12:44 PM

    Comment #20

    Right… life to get on with. Enjoy your weekend all.

  • lesh

    Nov 24, 2018 at 1:00 PM

    Comment #21

    sing in the corner

    The Grauniad’s spelling errors have reappeared since in went tabloid but Burnley’s line up takes the biscuit!

  • lesh

    Nov 24, 2018 at 1:05 PM

    Comment #22

    magscar @18

    When I referred to Ed, I was really asking, though not very clearly, whether TMG’s considered asking the likes of him and other publications for opinions on strategy etc. The likes of Ed’s been around the block a bit at a high international corporate level and the likes of him, if invited, could bring a lot of experience to the TMG party.

  • lesh

    Nov 24, 2018 at 1:12 PM

    Comment #23

    It seems that Citeh don’t expect to make any signings this January. They must be skint and keeping close control of the cash-flow – like what Ashley does!

  • magscar

    Nov 24, 2018 at 1:13 PM

    Comment #24


    Youre right a very difficult task in brinng together the different factionsg/roups . I don’t recall who the MG “leaders” are but felt on the formation of the Group it was both timely and the best we could hope for in what is a thankless (t)ask. There is a massive difference in time and committment to put oneself through what those lads and lasses are trying for as opposed to sounding off on Social Media. No dif at anyone just recognising the reality.

    We are a long way from the thousands on the wating lists for ST’s back in 90’s but whilst some stop going for their own reasons ( as I have done this season) there may not be a queue as before but inevitably the seat will be taken up. Many are on a amatch by match basis so with some away fans not taking up full possible allocation ( Bournemouth?) the crowd size does ebb and flow. Certainly bigger drop in recent matches after a terrible run ( but there is growing disenchantment as well).

    Many of the MG and it’s upporters will be long term fans and have seen it all over the years but it is still a learning curve and unintentional mistakes will be made and will be learnt from and should be forgiven in the interests of sustaining the overall aim.

    Thanks for the support but I think I have exhausted my contributions for now ( see you in New Year perhaps ha ha).

    Enjoy your day

  • Moonraker15

    Nov 24, 2018 at 1:31 PM

    Comment #25

    Balague doesn’t tell us anything we don’t know. Any one of us could’ve written that article.
    Ashley will be thinking he’s weathered the storm if we get a couple more good results and then we’ll have minimal investment in January. All very depressing knowing that with reasonable investment we could be s force again.
    So if Rafa does leave well have an inferior manager who was probably out of work, won’t rock the boat and eventually we’ll be relegated again! That’s why I’m saying after many years, Rafa goes, I go !

  • Moonraker15

    Nov 24, 2018 at 1:34 PM

    Comment #26

    It’s little wonder the Guardian is going bust

  • jezza442

    Nov 24, 2018 at 1:59 PM

    Comment #27

    I dont get this boycott games mentally, i like many other toon fans am not the richest of blokes,cant afford a season ticket so only attend games on a can i afford it basis.
    Ive been lucky enough this season to get to two home games,Arsenal and Brighton and although they were both defeats i loved it,its the best place on earth to be at 15.00hr on a saturday and i dont care if we were in league 1 owned by the devil himself if i could afford it i would be there and im not even a true geordie only in my heart so how do they expect the lads and lasses with black and white blood to not attend.
    Football may have been hijacked by money men but its a working mans game nobody had a clue how owners were in the old days ,fans supported the manager and the players and didnt care about the politics of the game.
    Balls to Ashley and his kind support the team not the regime i say ,he may have the deeds but the toon will never belong to him,its your club ladies and gentlemen love it. HWTL.

  • bettyswallocks

    Nov 24, 2018 at 2:11 PM

    Comment #28

    The Grauniad has shown what an amateurish out of touch publication it is with its pathetic attempt at the Burnley line up. Those that worship this nonsensical outfit as their bible are now also exposed as deluded half wits!


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