Ex-Newcastle United striker sends a surprising warning to Mike Ashley

Michael Owen has a surprising warning for Mike Ashley
Michael Owen has a surprising warning for Mike Ashley

Former Newcastle United striker Michael Owen has warned Mike Ashley to be wary of giving Rafa Benitez too much 'power'.

Owen returned to St James's Park on Saturday evening as a pundit on BT Sport's coverage of the 3-1 win over Southampton - and engaged in a lively debate with ex-Manchester United midfielder Owen Hargreaves over the future of the Magpies' manager.

Benitez is still awaiting answers to questions posed to the club's hierarchy over their ambition and vision as negotiations continue over a new contract, with the Spaniard's current deal set to expire this summer.

And while many are urging Ashley to give Benitez whatever is necessary, Owen has surprisingly warned the Newcastle owner against giving the manager too much power.

The 39-year-old believes that more control over transfers is one of Benitez's key demands, but feels it is unrealistic for a manager to have too much power in the modern game.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily about how much he gets, I think it is more a case of the power that he has and the overall control of the transfer, that is what I am led to believe," said Owen.

"That is not normally what happens as clubs any more, that’s what used to happen, but it’s not what happens anymore.

"There are transfer committees, there are lots of difference hoops that you have to jump through before a player can get signed and Rafa doesn’t like jumping through these hoops.”

Hargreaves, however, believed that Benitez should be given that control as he argued: "Rafa gets the job done, doesn’t he?

"To stay up with this team and the way that they are playing - last year they finished 10th, this season they could finish 12th - you have got to let the man make the decisions, they have got to spend money."

But Owen warned the Magpies against handing too much control the manager - especially should he decide to leave in the future.

"I just think you have got to be very careful when you give the manager all the power because a big club could come in and he leaves the next minute and then all of a sudden you’ve got no structure," he continued.

“What other business on this planet has something that totally relies on one person to do everything - manage the team, coach the team, pick the players, buy the players, do the contract, paint the white lines, put the nets up?

"You can’t do everything like managers used to, but I just think you have got to conform.

“Even at the top clubs now, the Liverpools, Manchester Citys, Manchester Uniteds. Everybody has got this structure in place, but obviously Rafa just wants - well I guess and I think full control.”