There is a report in the Chronicle today that Rafa Benitez will not discuss his contract until after the January transfer window is over.
With Man City at home and Tottenham away two games that are coming up – we could well be locked in the bottom three by early February.
At the moment, after yesterday’s games, we are 3rd bottom of the league with a meager 18 points from 22 games played and only four wins for the season.
The last time Mike Ashley talked to Rafa about his contract was at the Pizza dinner in Ponteland on October 3rd – that’s more than three months ago.
But the £6M release clause in the manager’s contract has ended, and anybody can now talk to Rafa about a new job – much like what happens to players in the last six months of their contracts.
He can leave Newcastle for nothing before June 30th, but he will not do that.
Rafa Benitez with Francisco de Miguel Moreno yesterday
If somebody had said back in the summer of 2016 that we would be back in a relegation fight like this almost three years later we would have asked them what had they been smoking.
We don’t want to overstate it, but it’s a disastrous situation brought on once again by the owner.
Funds are available but only for players who Ashley wants at the club – players under 26 whose value can increase while on Tyneside.
Why he’s still insisting on that while he is supposed to be selling the club is a mystery to us – but a lot of what Ashley does at Newcastle makes no logical sense at all to us.
It never has.
Apparently, Rafa wasn’t allowed to buy Salomon Rondon last summer because at 29 – he didn’t fit with Ashley’s profile of the players he wants brought in.
As we’ve said before with the massive money Newcastle now get from the Premier League every year, Ashley’s stance on younger players makes less sense these days.
Rafa is right when he says we need a balanced mix of youngsters and experienced players in the squad.
The Chronicle is reporting there has been significant activity behind the scenes on transfers, but many deals have stalled because of money – both in transfer fees and wages.
So what’s new here?
One example is Miguel Almiron’s demands for £100K/week wages and his club wanting up to £25M for him.
Unfortunately, Ashley could well do what he has done in the last three January windows with Benitez at the club and limit him to bringing in loan players or giving him nothing to spend at all – which is less likely.
And we are unlikely to know what Rafa’s career decision is – if he makes it next month.
If he’s staying, then he won’t want to say too much in case we are relegated and he will surely not want to spend yet another season in the Championship.
He’s already risked his career and reputation once already for Newcastle doing that.
And if he’s leaving it would so decimate the fans and the players that he would not announce it.
Knowing Rafa is leaving during February would mean almost certain relegation for us
The best we can hope for is Rafa will announce he will stay if we can avoid relegation.
But we are now back to where we were three years ago …….