It had to happen eventually. The only surprise is that it didn’t happen sooner. Rafa Benitez has departed Newcastle United and, understandably, the supporters are furious.
Their anger is aimed at owner Mike Ashley. But he couldn’t give a stuff. His only concern is to make as big a profit as possible when eventually selling the club. Ashley has long taken the mickey out of Newcastle fans. He’s teased them with potential new owners. He’s taunted them. Laughed at their displeasure. It’s not personal. He’s done it to countless landlords of retail properties. His ‘take it or leave it’ attitude when making derisory offers to shop owners goes with the territory.
Now he’s lost the best manager Newcastle could hope for. The only mystery is why Benitez stayed as long as he did. He clearly felt something for the club and its loyal supporters. But not the owner.
Newcastle United is effectively a Championship quality side surviving in the Premier League. All thanks to the Spaniard. But what now?
Bookies have slashed the price on Newcastle being relegated next season. Now the best price you can get for them to drop into the Championship is 5/1. That’s only with one online company.
A modern day version of ‘A Christmas Carol’ would surely star Mike Ashley in the role of Scrooge. He got his fingers burned in the transfer market under one previous manager and has long been determined not to give another the sort of money required for a club to compete for honours in the top flight. But he likely doesn’t appreciate how lucky he was to have Rafa in the role.
The Newcastle players were quick to wish their former manager well.
Salamon Rondon, pictured above, tweeted:- “I must say that Rafa Benitez deserves huge credit for what our team achieved last season, and I’m sure he’ll have success in his next job. All the best, gaffer!”
Young Sean Longstaff said: “Thanks for the opportunity to make my dreams into a reality.”
Player Isaac Hayden paid tribute to his former manager:- “Thank you for everything over the last 3 years, you brought me to the club and had the faith in me to develop me as a player and person. It won’t be forgotten.”
Newcastle legend Alan Shearer tweeted:- “A world class manager. A manager who performed so well in very difficult circumstances. A manager who understood the fans. Thanks and good luck Rafa Benitez. You were brilliant for the Toon.”
Even television presenters Ant and Dec had something to say:- “Disastrous. Thank you Rafa. Those ‘at the top’ of our great club should be ashamed. The great shame is that they won’t be. Mike Ashley – get out of OUR club.”
Harry Savill, a Newcastle supporter, writes for the Guardian. He encapsulated the feelings of those Magpies fans when writing:- “While many fans knew it was always a possibility that Benítez would leave – 12 years of Ashley has desensitised us – few were truly braced for what came, and nor too was Benítez, supposedly.
“The truth is – and this is exactly what endeared him to so many – Rafa saw the value in the project, the fans, the unrealised potential of a club that had been cut adrift for too long.
“For more than three years he battled to realise that ambition, lifting an honest and downtrodden team back from the Championship and, with minimal investment, defying expectations to twice keep them in the Premier League, with an overall net spend of minus £11.2m. His gritty style earned famous victories against Manchester United, Manchester City, Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal – arguably no manager has done more with less.
“Carrying on the charity work he was known for at Liverpool, Benítez has forged a deep connection with the community in Newcastle. From supporting the NUFC Foodbank and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, to attending the disabled supporters’ association the day he signed a new deal, the man was a class act on and off the pitch. The city stands to lose so much more than a managerial hero.”
Well said, Harry.
As for which poor sod follows Benitez, only time will tell. You’d expect the despised owner to take a cheap option.
For Mike Ashley knows the price of everything, but the value of nothing.
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