We thought Rafa was more relaxed and confident at his press conference yesterday for the game this afternoon at Brighton.
But then we heard he had met with Lee Charnley earlier in the week and they had discussed how to deal with the press and Rafa’s ongoing contract negotiations.
And it was interesting that Rafa did not say he was still waiting on the decisions coming from the club – which he’s done in the last several press conferences.
But he is almost certain to be still waiting for answers from Mike Ashley – who continues to sit on the fence showing no leadership whatsoever in this situation.
And Rafa did clarify one thing when asked if he was trying to finish between 7th and 10th at Newcastle next season.
Rafa Benitez – speaking to the press
He reminded everybody that he first said that three years ago.
These are some of the interesting things Rafa said during yesterday’s press conference, which was still fairly upbeat:
“I don’t say this now, I said this three years ago,”
“The potential is there; a massive club and city. You can see the fans, home and away. It is a team, with my memories at Chelsea and Liverpool, that Newcastle was always in the top 10.”
“When I came here it was a difficult time then, after, I decided to stay, for a lot of reasons, and we have done what we had to do.”
“We have got back to the Premier League and guaranteed to stay in the Premier League; we have done the same again, so clearly we have seen the potential.”
“My feeling is we can do that.”
“I used to compete for titles and I would like to compete against everyone – I am not happy when I come up against a top side and you can be happy with a draw.”
“I used to win at the Academy of Real Madrid; I like to win.”
“But when you are used to doing that, you want it. I am realistic and I know each club has its own potential. And they have to decide what they want to do.”
“If I can compete, I would like to compete for something more.”
“When I talked about a ‘miracle’ (for the club to stay up earlier this season), people said, ‘You can’t say this’, or. ‘that’, but the players reacted really well.”
“This club has the potential and we want to compete in every game and try to compete to try to win trophies, but you cannot compete in the cups if you are near the bottom of the table and you have two or three injuries.”
“It’s so simple.”
“We have had conversations. Sometimes Lee Charnley comes with us after games, when we can talk about serious things. If we have anything, we will let you know.”
“I will let you know if we progress or not. It’s football, we are professionals, the club has an idea and then we have to be sure we have the same idea.”
“I cannot decide what their idea is.” “We have to try to find a point that we are close enough to be right for both parties.”
“My answer a lot of times has been: ‘Let’s see where we are.’ We have three important games to play.”
“They are important for us, for a lot of people, so for us, the main thing is to concentrate on the games we have, like Brighton.”
“If there is any news, you will know from the club, but we have to concentrate on the game.”
It does seem that Rafa and the club are now trying to agree on what they can agree on.
That’s always a good sign in any negotiations because it usually signals each side wants to reach a viable solution.
Wouldn’t it be great for a change if Newcastle could start moving quickly and announce early next week that Rafa Benitez has signed a new contract for the next five years?
That’s what other clubs would have done months ago – but we have Mike Ashley as our rather stubborn owner.
If we win the game this afternoon at Brighton and then that announcement comes early next week, we’ll all be in nirvana.
We may even start talking about winning in Europe?
Well – maybe not – not yet.