We think it’s fair to say that not everything is going to plan for Newcastle United.
The club and Rafael Benitez have seemingly been in a contract stalemate (per the Chronicle earlier in June) for a considerable amount of time now and a staggering offer from China (via BBC Sport) which would see him earn £12million per year coaching Dalian Yifang, is thought to have emerged.
The 59-year-old enjoyed another positive season for Newcastle after he hoisted the club away from danger and guaranteed them Premier League football for the second season in a row.
But he’s reportedly been unhappy (the Guardian reporting as much back in April) with the way the club is run under current owner Mike Ashley, who is yet to find a buyer despite a recently proposed takeover, and with a more than attractive pay package beckoning him from the far reaches of Asia, matters could become more complicated.
Which begs the question: what are Newcastle going to do without him?
We’re going to explore three potential knock-on effects of Benitez cashing in on his air miles and booking a one-way trip to Liaoning.
It doesn’t take a genius to understand that, should Benitez leave, this Newcastle squad might suffer in the Premier League.
A distinct lack of firepower away from Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez, which meant the club recorded the 16th lowest goals for record, was compensated for by a relatively staunch defensive unit that conceded just 48 goals.
It says it all that in the season before he arrived (2014-15) Newcastle conceded 63 goals, and in his first full Premier League campaign (2016-17) they only shipped 47.
Potentially losing a manager praised by the likes of Jamie Carragher and Graeme Souness as the man to save them when things were going badly at the start of the season and Newcastle are in serious danger of losing that resilience. Described by talkSPORT pundit Adrian Durham as pound-for-pound the best manager in the Premier League, any departure would leave a gaping hole in the dugout.
Mass revolt amongst fans
Nothing new here.
The Newcastle fan-base have been extremely vocal over the years regarding just how unhappy they are about the current ownership. As recently as December 2018 have fans orchestrated protests against Mike Ashley, with the latest episode consisting of an 11th-minute walk-in. That is, 60 seconds for every year Ashley has owned the club.
We imagine that in the wake of Benitez’s potential departure, the already hostile relationship between the board and fans will reach breaking point (if it’s not already there). Indeed, you only have to look at the #IfRafaGoesWeGo movement for proof here.
And this is bad news for the players. In any case, supporter uproar and mass revolt is simply not conducive to success on the pitch. After all, Matt Ritchie spoke of how a lack of belief somewhat impacted the team back in January. If or when they also have to contend with the turmoil of adjusting to a new boss, the challenge might be made that bit more difficult.
Newcastle struggle to find new boss (at least as good as Benitez)
It’s not going to be easy to replace Benitez with someone of a similar stature within the game. After all, how many coaches out there have won the Champions League, La Liga, Europa League, FA Cup and UEFA Cup?
Jose Mourinho was dubiously linked (per the Mirror) with taking the job in the midst of the recent takeover rumours which would see Billionaire consort Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan purchase the club from Mike Ashley.
However, should the Sports Direct owner remain in his position, the idea that one of the most decorated and controversial managers of all time would be willing to join Newcastle, work alongside Ashley and entertain the reality of having one of his budgets to work with is surely unlikely. Especially when his previous clubs consist of Chelsea, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Inter Milan – all of whom boast envious wealth.
We’ve also got to remember that, before the Spaniard, Newcastle hosted the likes of Steve McClaren (who all but relegated the club), John Carver, and Alan Pardew – who very nearly led them to ruin in 2013.
Newcastle fans, do you agree with our predictions? How detrimental would losing Benitez be? Let us know in the comments below…Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!