Rafa Benitez spoke to the media today for his usual pre-match press conference, and, predictably, had to answer questions about the stories that emerged (as per L’Equipe), suggesting he had signed with an agency to find him a job in France.
He was alleged to have signed with Score Agencies, a Lyon-based company, on March 6, to enlist their help in finding him a management position at a Ligue 1 club next season.
He gave a short, sharp and unequivocal reply, and then wanted to focus on the task at hand — Crystal Palace later.
The Newcastle Chronicle report Rafa said: “I read the story.
“On March 6 I was here training, having lunch, then I left at 7pm or 8pm.
“The only club I am talking to about my future is Newcastle and I am waiting for an answer.
“When? I don’t know.”
That answer puts two things out there, for everyone to be absolutely sure about.
There is now absolutely no doubt that Rafa wants to stay at St James’ Park. He is not even considering any other club… for now.
So any further speculation, rumours, or fantastical stories that arise, about where he is going to be next year, who have made approaches to him personally, and what his plans are this summer, should be taken with less than the proverbial pinch of salt they would usually be afforded.
The second thing, however, is his clever ploy of making it known publicly, that he has told Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley what he wants, what his vision is, and what needs to be done to keep him.
His comment of “I am waiting for an answer” suggests that negotiations — from his side at least — are complete, and it is now up to the owner to agree to his conditions.
It was a shrewd move by Benitez, as he has now placed all the emphasis about a deal on those above him.
He has also made it clear, and Newcastle fans are smart enough to see it, that any failure to come to an agreement will be the fault of Ashley and Charnley alone.
He probably did not need to do so, of course, as almost every Newcastle fan holds the Spaniard in such high regard, they would always be likely to side with him, over their distrusted and disliked owner anyway.
One thing everyone knows about Benitez, is that he is a clever man, and never does or says anything by accident.
He knew these questions would be asked, and he could have straight-batted them away with an “I don’t want to talk about my future” comment.
But he chose not to, and in turn has made a public statement and let everyone know where he, and the drawn-out contract saga stands, and that is a significant move on his part.
What do you think about Rafa’s comments at the press conference today? Will Ashley and Charnley take note? We want to hear your thoughts…