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Steve Harper – Highly Unlikely Ashley Will Fully Back Rafa Benitez

Steve Harper has been talking to the Chronicle on what a remarkable job Rafa Benitez has done at Newcastle this season.

The club is now in 10th place with a decent enough chance of finishing the season in the upper half of the table.

But Steve isn’t sure that owner Mike Ashley will fully back the manager this summer so we can be challenging for a top six position next season,  and that’s what fans are hoping for.

Steve Harper – in his playing days at Newcastle – circa 2012

This is what Steve has said today:

“He needs to be backed this summer, definitely,”

“If the situation was to stay the same, then again it would be difficult next year – and then you’re into second-season syndrome.”

“That’s when teams work you out and they know how you’re going to play, so they’re better prepared for you.”

“Hopefully he is going to be backed, because if he takes them to 10th this season, that would be a huge bonus – and any funds from that need to go back into the team through rebuilding.”

“Is he going to be backed with money to the tune of making Newcastle competitive for the top six?”

“I think that’s highly unlikely.”

“But it would be nice if they did back him and, if they do back him sufficiently, then ideally he would sign a new contract and be able to build something by growing year on year.”

“Then you can move up a position or two every year and really get this club competitive again.

“If they finish 10th, that’s an incredible achievement and he needs to be backed.”

“Because if he is backed, the players he has brought in – the likes of Kenedy, Martin Dubravka – they’ve shown the quality and level that he wants to work with.”

“That would be the ideal scenario, but having spent 20 years here you know that is doesn’t always work like that.”

There are negotiations going on with Rafa’s people and Managing Director Lee Charnley this week and we don’t know how long those discussions will last.

But it remains to be seen what level of investment and ambition Rafa needs to see from owner Mike Ashley for him to sign an extended contract to stay on at Newcastle.

Hopefully, they can work something out and the sooner, the better.

Steve Harper played 199 games for Newcastle United over a 20-year stay at the club.

Comments welcome.

13 comments so far

  • magscar

    May 2, 2018 at 9:18 AM

    Comment #1



    May 2, 2018 at 9:13 AM

    Comment #210
    Although Rafa has left clubs by not renewing and it remains a possibility here I think we need to recognise that given Rafa’s age and the length of time it takes for football projects to be realised he would be loath to do so.

    How many comparable projects with the extensive gains achievable are out there?

    Rafa is having to deal with a wily owner with a different agenda but hopefully there are enough points at which their respective ambitions coincide for a viable deal to emerge from the negotiations.

    If a sale is not likely any time soon (and Ashley will certainly be aware of whether this is likely) this has to inform his approach as surely he wants to retain Rafa either way albeit for perhaps different reasons.

    Sometimes in business there are windows of opportunity when say a sale is more likely. One such seems to have passed and although seemingly all the reasons for Ashley to have sought a sale last year do remain the signs are ( no realistic bid matches his valuation) that the window remains at best ajar but is closing.

    That being the case then like it or not as Rafa would prefer to stay (just not at any cost) and Ashley needs him more than ever the likely scenario is that a way will be found to reach an agreement. Hardly ideal but if it can work then it has to be better than anything we have had under Ashley hitherto.

    The talk of academy development is an interesting one as not only does it suggest a longevity in Rafa’s thinking (although he is so professional that no doubt he would have that in mind even if leaving is a possibility) but isn’t there something in FFP rules about investment in infrastructure not falling foul of there rules?

    As Nicky has implied Ashley investing in that (as opposed to player recruitment) might be a temptation as it would increase the club’s assets and make a future sale more attractive.

    What Ashley has done in the past is undoubtedly a way to measure what could happen but using only that and not the coming together of a unique situation is not the best way to consider outcome.

    Sorry for repost but 2 buses came along together ,:-(

  • Jib

    May 2, 2018 at 9:23 AM

    Comment #2

    Someday Ashley will realise that he cannot
    take his £3billion with him when he dies.
    At a certain age when this hits people they
    start to think of leaving a memorial.
    Perhaps if he sees the SBR movie it’ll hit
    him that the best way to do that is make NUFC

  • magscar

    May 2, 2018 at 9:28 AM

    Comment #3

    I don’t think it takes a genius to point out the differences in ambitions as most if not all fans are only too well aware of them and Steve does allude to alternatives.

    Rafa will wish for a more receptive and understanding owner whilst Ashley perhaps wishes he hadn’t caught a tiger by the tail. But the differences need not be irreconcilable and whilst time is of the essence (transfer window) the gap may need some closing before a new deal is struck.

    Hopefully an understanding that a deal can be struck as i’s and t’s can be dotted will allow room for early approaches on transfers as that is one of Rafa’s main concerns as well as budget and control.

  • AncientC

    May 2, 2018 at 9:34 AM

    Comment #4

    magscar, I get the impression you like to read your own posts (maybe more than once), and with a sense of glee. Why not I say, why not.

  • Essex Geordie Bill

    May 2, 2018 at 9:43 AM

    Comment #5

    I saw that this morning, I somehow don’t think he will leave. But!!!!!

    I posted a couple of comments yesterday but there was so much dross in the form of the backbiting attempts to score points I decided not to waste any more time.

    By the way any Apple shareholder on the blog, looks like you might have some serious cash coming your way, probably not enough to buy the club though. 🙂

  • Jib

    May 2, 2018 at 9:45 AM

    Comment #6

    Ancient C
    Classic Psychological projection @4

  • magscar

    May 2, 2018 at 9:48 AM

    Comment #7


    As I said whilst writing that opus (and I should know better at this time of morning) it is likely that Ed will put up another thread but use what time you have I say.

    I pressed submit to find not only a new post was there but another one after that! As I need hearts then there is no alternative but to put on latest thread ( unlike Jail adorned with hearts as he is I can’t afford to “spare you the repost,” as he often does)

    I get impression not many stay with my posts because as well as being long there often are at odds with many regular posters take on matters so I never worry about over tasking folk…but as Jail has said and I echo that “I love the Blog” so use my moments of opportunity to weigh in now and again.

  • dig-n-dig22

    May 2, 2018 at 9:49 AM

    Comment #8

    AncientC previous thread

    “We tried our best to keep Rafa” but we have to work within the framework of a financial budget, but the good news is, we will cash in on Rafa’s contractual get out clause.

  • TheJimBelow

    May 2, 2018 at 9:55 AM

    Comment #9

    I like your posts dude, they are well written and interesting. Plus I’ve never noticed you have a pop at anyone etc..

    Steve Harper, what a servant he was to this beautiful club of ours lads!
    Hated that jersey in the pic mind!!

  • TheJimBelow

    May 2, 2018 at 9:58 AM

    Comment #10


    Couldn’t agree more about not taking it with you etc, and if there is ANYTHING left to stir some feeling out of the slug it could only be the spirit of Sir Bobby..

    Fingers et al crossed. . .

  • AncientC

    May 2, 2018 at 9:59 AM

    Comment #11

    Jib, you should know about “psychological projection.” Remember that time you came on the blog and told readers you were are at dinner party with a psychologist? You had your Dr friend read the blog who made an assessment of us all. And don’t pretend you were joking either, you were deadly serious at the time. What a hoot.

  • magscar

    May 2, 2018 at 10:03 AM

    Comment #12


    If I may add I did read your take on Napoli situation and whilst it has merit it is perhaps a little selective in reasoning and ignores the wider picture which I have tried to consider as nothing stands still.

    I would argue that Napoli along with other speculative offers rearing their heads in last week are not in forefront of Rafa’s mind right now as I believe he would rather stay and reap the rewards here.

    It is not of course as simpe as that and both parties are well aware of that but as I have previously mentioned the current mood music is one of say “let’s talk” as opposed to ” I have had enough and I’m considering other offers” .

    Yeah by no means easy to bridge the gap in expectations and Ashley’s lack of football ambitions but as I keep arguing we are in a different scenario than before given Rafas love for club and people and the proximity of his family. Not many jobs offer that to Rafa along with the potential to leave a clear mark as he nears the end of a career .

    I put great store by that as a fan but Ashley certainly shouldn’t if he doesn’t want to overplay his weaker hand!

  • Rotonda heights

    May 2, 2018 at 10:07 AM

    Comment #13

    It must be soul destroying to work for an owner who has zero interest in the club yet will not sell at a reasonable price. Huddersfield’s and Brighton’s owners are at every game and really do live the dream. You really couldn’t blame Rafa if he left and everyone has a tipping point eventually.

    Has anyone see the video of Liverpool scoring and their disabled section all jumping out of their wheelchairs !!


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