Former Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler believes Rafa Benitez is playing a 'game' with Mike Ashley.
Fowler, who played under Benitez at Liverpool, was discussing the manager's situation at Newcastle United during an appearance on BT Sport.
And the 43-year-old believed that - despite the Spaniard's 'cold' persona - that he would have enough to keep the Magpies in the Premier League.
"He was a cold person, if I'm being honest," said Fowler.
"But technically and tactically, he was superb.
"I think he will certainly get points and stop Newcastle from going in a bit of a rut really.
"He will keep them away from the relegation zone, I have no doubt about that."
Benitez is keen to secure some new additions during the winter window, but has yet been unable to strengthen his squad.
Uncertainty over the future of the club, with takeover rumours continuing to circulate, could have stunted transfer progress.
But Fowler believes that some game-playing on Benitez's part could have affected things too.
However, he feels owner Ashley is now faced with a real predicament as he aims to secure an agreement to sell the club.
"At times he [Benitez] does play a game," he added.
"He does try and work the fans off the owner.
"I'm not sure whether that is good for the morale of the club.
"Everyone wants Rafa and for Ashley to sell up.
"But he [Ashley] is in a little bit of a predicament anyway now because for the club to get sold, do they need to buy maybe more expensive players and keep them in the Premier League?"