Do Newcastle United really want to keep Rafa Benitez? The next 12 days will prove their true motives

Do Newcastle United really want to keep Rafa Benitez?

Tuesday, 18th June 2019, 4:04 pm
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 12: Rafael Benitez, Manager of Newcastle United reacts during the Premier League match between Fulham FC and Newcastle United at Craven Cottage on May 12, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Alex Broadway/Getty Images)

It’s a simple question, that should really have a simple answer – well, if you use football logic.

In three years, Benitez has taken a team from the Championship to a 10th placed finish in the Premier League then another season of consolidation in 2018/19.

He’s done all of this with one hand tied behind his back in the transfer market, with the club unwilling to significantly spend on players over a certain age, believed to be 25, without sell-on value.

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Meanwhile, United’s rivals have dug deep to, rightly or wrongly, back their managers.

Newly promoted Aston Villa are the latest example of this, splashing around £22million Brazilian striker Wesley Moraes, a striker Benitez would love to have added to his own squad.

Benitez’s argument has always been that you need the right mix of youth and experience and only when that balance is struck can you adopt the transfer policy his paymasters want – less quantity, more youth and quality.

And this is the crux of the problem. If you want a world class manager, which Benitez is, you have to trust his judgement, otherwise what is the point?

That’s what this next 12 days – the Spaniard’s current deal runs out on June 30 – will drill down to, the real motive behind the Benitez appointment.

Do Newcastle want a manager who challenges at every turn, yearns for success and wants to make the club he manages great again? Because if they do, they already have that man sitting waiting for his demands to be met.

Or was Benitez only ever seen as the best route back to the Premier League, in order for the cash to come rolling back in?

Looking back over appointments made during Mike Ashley’s ownership show Benitez is an exception to the rule, much like Kevin Keegan and Alan Shearer before him.

The clock is ticking.

Given fans’ love of the former Liverpool boss, offered an out ball with a £12million offer from China, it feels like there could be an explosion if this month passes without pen hitting paper.