In the aftermath of Newcastle’s 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace, Rafa Benitez told Sky Sports that he was “not too close” to agreeing a new deal at the club.
But that does not mean fans should be rushing to the shops to buy their ‘sorry you’re leaving’ cards just yet.
There are two things everyone knows about Benitez: he is a fantastic football tactician, with a depth of knowledge of the game like no other; and he is a clever, astute man, who gives nothing away accidentally.
Because of the latter, it is not too surprising to hear him keeping his cards close to his chest. It is how he has always been, and he is not likely to change now.
When Rafa says he is “not too close”, it could mean anything. But what it does not necessarily mean, is that he is on the verge of walking away.
It could be, for all anyone really knows, talks have only begun in the last few days, and at the, what are your proposals stage. Or the club have approached him and he has asked them to wait until safety is assured before they get into the nitty-gritty.
It could also be that he does not want to get fans’ hopes up too soon, and take focus away from on-the-field issues — particularly just after a demoralising defeat which has prolonged the relegation fears.
According to the Shields Gazette when asked, after the game, if he wanted any extension deal done quietly, he said: “That’s what we’re trying to do, but I don’t want to talk too much about that.”
That sentence suggests more that he does not want to say too much in public, and concentrating on the football for the time being.
So fans should not worry unduly.
His comment, which seemed to suggest he and the club are some way apart in their negotiation stances, is far more likely to be just a sobering message to temper expectations at the current time.
As mentioned earlier, Rafa is a fantastic football tactician, and he will not let anything — not even his own contract negotiations — derail his players and on-field priorities.
The time for real negotiation, is when any danger of the drop has been put to bed.
What do you think, Newcastle fans? Was Rafa’s comment a worrying sign for you? Or do you think he is focusing on the football for now? Let us know your opinion…
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