Newcastle owner Mike Ashley seems to have gone all-in on his efforts to retain Rafa Benitez, or at least how he sees it, as the Northern Echo understand there is no alternative lined up in case the gaffer rejects the contract currently on offer.
It’s added that Ashley and Managing Director Lee Charnley are confident Benitez will remain in charge when the first-team return for pre-season training in July, and thus feel there is no need to approach anyone else to see if they would be interested in a role at St James’ Park.
However, the chances of the Spaniard putting pen to paper before his current deal expires at the end of the month do not look great right now, as the two parties are still a fair way apart thanks to Ashley’s apparent refusal to give the boss any more assurances than he already has.
Benitez had been hoping he would be able to coax Ashley into giving him a greater share of the responsibilities when it comes to handling the club’s transfer activity, as he feels the current process has caused previous targets to slip through the Magpies’ fingers as he must first present his targets to Charnley before they go on to Ashley for his final approval.
Another issue has been the suggestion of a £60million transfer budget for the summer, which would be set aside for every aspect; ranging from the base transfer fee, any costs associated with bringing players to Tyneside on loan, their wages and agent’s fees.
Despite the stumbling blocks, the Northern Echo understand Ashley and Charnley have called time on negotiations with Benitez, and will stand firm with their take it or leave it offer the gaffer is currently considering.
If true, that is a seriously risky tactic by the pair, as they are not only leaving themselves open to having to scramble around finding a manager who would be willing to replace Benitez, but also how it would impact the squad and any signings planned.
The delay in announcing a new head coach could see the first-team return for pre-season and only be able to run through fitness drills, as there would not be a tactical play sheet in mind as a new manager may want to play a completely different brand of football than Benitez.
It’s an exaggerated example, but imagine going from Sam Allardyce to Pep Guardiola. It would not work. And we would likely find ourselves in a relegation dogfight before the season has even begun.
As for signings, you would have to question a player’s motivation behind joining a new side if they do not know who will be in charge, especially if the player in question would be arriving at St James’ Park with a lucrative contract in his pocket.
So, if Benitez does the one thing we all fear may happen and calls time on his tenure on Tyneside in the next few weeks, it would be best for all if he announces so as soon as possible so the Newcastle hierarchy can approach any potential new managers before it is all too late.