In an interview with the Daily Mail on Sunday, Rafa Benitez claims he knew after his end of season meeting with Mike Ashley that he would not be returning as Newcastle manager.
However, the shocking part of the interview is that Rafa Benitez claims he told the club a few days after this May 16th meeting that he would not be returning.
This is what Rafa has said:
“I would like not to talk too much about Newcastle United because we need to move forward. They need to think about the new season and I have a great challenge ahead of me. But I will say after the meeting in London on May 16 it was a clear decision for me and a few days later we told the club that we would not extend the contract.”
This news goes against a lot of what has been reported previously as it was understood that they were in contact by email and that negotiations were ongoing.
John Barnes, the former Liverpool midfielder who also spent a couple of seasons at Newcastle, made the following statements to the Chronicle recently:
“It was a surprise because I was with him for four or five hours, and he never mentioned [quitting] to me.
“I fully expected him to be there at the start of the season, so it was just a big a shock to me as it was to everyone else.
“He was speaking about what a great club it was and he’d had a great time, and was looking forward to the season, that was it.
“I wasn’t given any other reason to think otherwise [that he wouldn’t be staying] – he never mentioned anything about leaving or staying but he never indicated to me that he wasn’t going to be there so it is a big shock to me.”
So if what Rafa says is true, he kept very quiet in public about his decision as to not arouse suspicion that he was leaving. So he must have not fully decided but had made the club aware that his departure was likely.
Rafa Benitez– knew he was leaving when this picture was taken
The report also claims that it was Rafa Benitez who would only agree to a one year extension.
The report states:
They (Benitez) were only ever prepared to sign up for one more year because they felt trust was minimal and wanted to see how the season panned out. They asked for an £8million-a-year salary plus bonuses for staying up. It has been said that Benitez wanted £9.5m but that figure would only have been achieved if every target had been met.
We were under the impression that it was Newcastle who were just offering a one-year extension to his current deal. However, it appears as though the one-year contract was coming from Rafa’s side.
The report continues with information that would lead us to believe Newcastle wanted to tie Rafa down for longer than just the one year.
While Benitez had always accepted that the board would want to sell an existing player if an offer was good, he wanted to direct the recruitment for next season. Newcastle told him that was unrealistic given that he was only prepared to commit to one season.
We knew information would soon trickle out about what really went on at Newcastle during the clandestine period between the end of the season and the announcement of Rafa’s departure.
It was all silence and the Newcastle fans were left with what now may seem like a false sense of optimism. If this is the case, then it is a disgrace that “no comment” was the club’s motto.
Also, Newcastle are again left in a state of disarray with no manager and a search that has begun far too late if this news is true.
A search should have begun in May, at least preliminarily, even if Newcastle thought that Rafa would eventually sign the one year deal.
You just don’t put your club in this type of risk but Mike Ashley has done it time and again.