Where are we now?
“The reason I’m here is because you can think big.” Rafa Benitez.
I’m sitting here, on a glorious sunny Summer’s evening at the end of June. All should be well with my world. However, like a few of you out there, I have a gnawing feeling in my gut that, once more all is not 100% hunky dory within the corridors of power on Barrack Road.
The clamour for fresh blood is inherent in football fans. The dearth of footy action in warmer times can build this into some kind of prospective transfer feeding frenzy. As I write, it’s fair to say that our support are currently moving from hunger to starvation. With pre season a couple of weeks away, I think it is clear that Rafa Benitez expected more new faces than the already familiar Atsu.
ITK’s are generally frowned upon in social media land. However, a few of the whispers I’ve been party to, come from solid citizens whom I know only have the club at heart and have links with the odd ‘insider’ (I know. Sorry!). They talk of friction and a genuine football supremo who is getting the thin end of the wedge from his paymasters. Also, that he is clearly not a guy to take too much more of it. This is now being echoed, in various levels of seriousness from the less salubrious ‘news’ outlets such as the scaremongering Mail and nefarious Sun to more reliable guys such as Luke Edwards (Telegraph) and the thinking man’s footy hack Mark Douglas (Chron)
Rafa has done his due diligence and has given his wish list. I’m guessing he knows it’s impossible to get everyone he desires but at this moment he has no one.
The way I read things is that he was mugged off in January & has been given cast iron assurances that the Summer will be different.
A report I read today in The Independent goes as far as saying he was about to walk a month ago over the continued meddling influence of Carr. Someone he would’ve liked to have seen the back of a long time ago. He exited stage left earlier this week. So, it sounds as if Rafa finally got his way. Good news, but remember the strapline bandied around last Summer, “what Rafa wants, he gets”? Little of the above appears to add up to that.
Some would say my no smoke/no fire theory has led me to mountains/molehills territory, but sometimes you just got to go with your gut. To those of you who accuse me of over dramatisation I will ask you a few pertinent questions.
- Does Mr Ashley have (or as he ever had) the wellbeing of NUFC at heart like you & me?
- Do any of his patsy drones like our previous chairman’s bag carrier, Lee Charnley have what it takes to run a global football entity? Or will he just toady to his boss & basically do as he’s told?
- Finally, now he’s got his fabled Sky money safe again, with queues of folk parting with their hard earned to trouser the last few season tickets available, might he actually see it as a plus for if Rafa did one? He’s on £5M a year and that’s without the rest of his team taken into consideration. Benitez would also like to spend a large amount of Ashley wedge in the immediate future.
From an emotive perspective what I’ve suggested in 3) is as unthinkable as it is preposterous. However, do any of you seriously believe that Mike Ashley gives even a passing thought about emotion, our passion, our love of the club?
I’m half way through Martin Hardy’s sublime “Rafa’s Way”. I urge you all to read it. It does an excellent job of reminding you just exactly what we have in Rafa Benitez. This is a man with ultimate kudos within worldwide football due to his fantastic successes. A meticulous preparer of not just the first team, but with thought & influence stretching down to youth level.
On a human level, he is clearly a socialist in the truest sense of the word. A man who will gladly talk football to a punter outside a supermarket for 15 minutes and fanzine lads for most of a day. He is as happy to visit football pitches on an evening in the West End of Newcastle as he is attending JFT96 sponsored events and backing that particular cause with considerable amounts of his own money.
This is what we have. Us. Newcastle United! I still sometimes pinch myself.
You will probably never read this Mr Ashley or have it read to you, Mr Charnley, but if you let Rafa Benitez slip through your fingers either through incompetence or because it’s really what you want, you could very will make our club, this North Eastern institution simply implode. You should not only be aiding him now, you should be desperately wanting him to build a legacy here. The money spent will be worth it. A properly successful NUFC will become a cash cow for you or a much better sales acquisition for someone else.
Rafa Benitez is NUFC, as it stands. He has given Newcastle as a club and a City it’s pride back. It’s enthusiasm. It’s swagger. I sincerely hope and pray they don’t kill the golden goose now. Or ever.
The evidence for long term harmony doesn’t look great from where I’m sitting. I’d absolutely love to be proved wrong. Love it…
NICK CLARK – Follow Nick on @Clark5Nick