Former Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez has claimed he left the Magpies due to unfulfilled promises and a breakdown of trust with Mike Ashley, in a column for The Athletic.
The Spaniard’s departure in June was very acrimonious, having been a fan favourite throughout his tenure on Tyneside before his contract was allowed to expire.
Toon supporters rallied in hope of the Champions League-winning head coach being awarded a new deal, but were left watching as he packed his belongings, and later signed a £12million-a-year contract with Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang.
United Managing Director Lee Charnley recently labelled the pay rise Benitez earned by moving to China as a key reason why the Spaniard opted to leave Newcastle, which our former head coach has now responded to.
In a serious of scathing comments as part of his new column for The Athletic, Benitez claimed: “People in Newcastle have been talking about my decision to move to China without knowing what happened behind the scenes during my three years at St James’ Park.
“I’ve been made aware of what Lee Charnley, Newcastle’s managing director, claimed in the club’s match programme last weekend and I think it’s important I address that.
“When I joined Newcastle in 2016, I did it with all my heart. I could feel the history and see the potential of the club, and I wanted to be part of a project and to stay close to my family on Merseyside.
“I tried to do my best every day, even staying when we went down to the Championship and saying no to other offers – bigger offers than the one I recently accepted with Dalian Yifang, by the way. If I was only interested in moving ‘for money’, as Charnley stated, I could have done it much earlier.”
Benitez went on to address the contract Newcastle put to him at the end of last season as negotiations rolled on, and suggested the terms tabled by the club would have seen him earn the same wage as the previous three seasons, but have less control over how transfers were handled.
“Newcastle’s board had a year to sort out my contract but, when we met after the end of last season, they didn’t make me an offer I could accept,” he added. “They told me they didn’t want to invest in the academy or the training ground – if they like, I can explain the reason why Mike Ashley refused to do that.
“After that meeting, I knew they would not come back with a serious offer and, when it arrived, 19 days later, it was for the same salary as three years earlier and with less control over signings. Charnley’s comments in the programme about having a deal agreed for Joelinton in February explains a lot that I couldn’t understand at that time.
“After three years of unfulfilled promises, I didn’t trust them.”
Here’s how these Newcastle fans reacted to Benitez’s scathing comments on how Ashley and Charnley handled his contract and want to handle the club’s future…
So the club lied? I’m in shock here….
— Damien Coughlan (@dynamodamo) August 13, 2019
I mean 100% is in China for money
— Dean Sproul (@DeanSproul) August 13, 2019
Am I the only person who, whilst still loving Rafa, thinks he should just keep his opinions to himself now?
Nothing good can come from this constant bad and forth mudslinging between him and the club, only further division and hatred.
— ???????? CT1 Joe-ro Willems ???????? (@TheeXhc) August 13, 2019
Ridiculous the way they went on with a high profile manager like Rafa ????
— Dean Bell (@Deano_B1985) August 13, 2019
Chumley wont be laughing at xmas
— David Singleton (@mindblower46) August 13, 2019
But it’s ok, 47k of our fans love mike Ashley. Shambles
— Chris Carr (@CarrChr1s) August 13, 2019
Charnley should not have put that into the programme.
— Jonathan_Guest (@jonathanguesth1) August 13, 2019
Looks like Rafa knew nothing about Joelinton ????
— Cinzano Bianco (@cinzanobianco) August 13, 2019
As if we didn’t know this deep down already. Rafa could have gone to Leicester if he didn’t have nothing but respect for this club and hoped for better going forward. At least there he could have had an owner that backed him. No money for the academy and training facilities. Wow
— XRP_BOD (@BodXrp) August 13, 2019
Got to say I believe him 100%. To this day I’ve never known him to lie. However the powers that be admitted in court that they’ve lied time and time again! @rafabenitezweb gave us hope of a brighter future. With him going that went too…????♂️ #NUFC
— Robbie Bell (@robiez1) August 13, 2019