Miles Starforth: This farce at Newcastle United CANNOT drag on any longer
Newcastle United now have their fixture list. But what about their manager?
Rafa Benitez is out of contract in 17 days. Yes, 17 days.
The club will take on Arsenal at St James’s Park on the opening weekend of next season – the game has already been put back to Sunday, August 11 so it can be screened live – and next up are newly-promoted Norwich City at Carrow Road.
But will Benitez be in the dugout at Carrow Road? We don’t know.
It’s been more than a month since the club finished last season with a memorable 4-0 win over Fulham, and the new season is less than two months away.
Benitez wanted a quick decision. Speaking ahead of the club’s visit to Craven Cottage, the 59-year-old said: “I have some players asking me questions, but still I don’t know. If we have waited eight months, we can wait another 10 days.”
That interview was given on May 10. So much for waiting just 10 days.
Newcastle fans, understandably, are anxious. There’s also anger and frustration. The club’s season-ending visit to a sunny Craven Cottage game gave supporters a glimpse of a brighter future under Benitez.
However, the future of the club’s manager was as unclear as ever this week on a soggy Tyneside as fans pored over the fixture list.
The start isn’t as tough as it was last season when United failed to win any of their first 10 games, though it will be tough for fans to get to the Tottenham Hotspur away game, set for on August 24, seeing as Kings Cross train station is closed that weekend for track renewal.
Newcastle are away to Manchester United on Boxing Day – that’s no surprise – and at home to Leicester City on Boxing Day.
The club will wrap up its campaign with a home game against Liverpool on May 17.
Surely, this can’t go on any longer. The club, the subject a takeover approach from the Bin Zayed Group, is in limbo as the clock ticks down on the start of pre-season training on July 4.
Nothing, however, should surprise us with United under Mike Ashley’s ownership.