Guillem Balague has written an article for BBC sport on Thursday, and it’s about Rafa Benitez and any future he may have at Newcastle United.
Guillem knows Rafa well, and so we have reading the article a few times to see if we can get any hints as to what Rafa is really thinking about his possible future at Newcastle.
We don’t consider the article to be a positive one for people hoping that Rafa will finally stay on Tyneside when his contract runs out next June 30th.
Guillem has said it will take a lot from Ashley for Rafa to stay on board at Newcastle, but we will continue to live in hope.
For Rafa, it’s not about the money for himself, and he quickly agreed to whatever Mike Ashley offered him in wages as part of the new contract he was offered last summer.
Rafa Benitez and Guillem Balague in Rafa’s office last May during an interview
It was probably around £6M/year – but for Rafa what’s important is the money the owner will give him for new players; and also the money Ashley will be willing to invest in upgrading the infrastructure of the club.
Things like the training ground at Benton and the Youth Academy, which needs a massive overhaul to start to produce first-team players regularly in the future.
This is some of what Guillem has said in his BBC Sports article:
“It is about money, of course, but not for Benitez himself.”
“He needs it for the club, and not just on new players but also for much-needed investment in the academy, the lifeblood of the club that in the long term can help to raise it from its slumbers.”
“Backing on both fronts is conspicuous by its absence and much will depend on whether or not money is spent in the winter transfer window.”
“If it is not forthcoming then, despite Benitez’s claim that Newcastle will survive, there is a very good chance that they will be relegated and that he will be sacked, or even move on.”
“It would then fall to the owner, Mike Ashley, to explain to the fans just why he had dispensed with the services of a manager who maximized the potential of a side.”
“That was despite having to watch on helplessly as the ‘family silver’ was sold off around him and replaced, largely, with borrowed or cut-price cutlery.”
“Benitez’s reward for gaining promotion and Newcastle’s idea of preparing for a life in the Premier League was to have a net spend of about a third of what Huddersfield and Brighton spent in summer 2017.”
“In fact, the net spend of about £20M still put them well in credit on transfer dealings during Rafa’s rule and streets behind the vast majority of Premier League clubs.”
“Ashley’s claim that he would “spend every penny generated” on improving the club has – to date – translated into a 2018-2019 season in which he has made another net profit on the transfer market of about £7.5M.”
“It is not a western-style stand-off between Ashley and Benitez, though.”
“It is a matter of vision and the possibility of a project.”
“Witnesses at St James’ Park have seen the owner enjoying his recent visits to the ground, sharing time with the manager and players.”
“It might be a good time to find common ground.”
We certainly don’t think Ashley will fire Rafa – he’s trying to keep him at the club and rates him highly as a manager.
Benitez’ very presence at Newcastle will raise the amount Ashley can sell the club for.
But if the manager leaves next summer, then it will indeed put pressure on Mike Ashley to explain what exactly happened?
And Newcastle fans’ dreams will have been squashed once again.