In an interview with the Daily Mail, Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has spoken out about manager Rafa Benitez’s recent exit from the club.
The Spanish coach spent just over three seasons in the hot seat at St James’ Park. In that time, he led the Magpies to promotion back to the Premier League, and then to impressive, consecutive mid-table finishes in the top flight. He achieved all this with a limited transfer budget at his disposal and with a mediocre squad.
However, he recently quit the Tyneside outfit and quickly took up the Dalian Yifang job in the Chinese Super League. Soon after his departure, Benitez released a statement, as quoted by The Chronicle. The 59-year-old said, “I wanted to stay, but I didn’t just want to sign an extended contract, I wanted to be part of a project. Unfortunately, it became increasingly clear to me that those at the top of the Club did not share the same vision.”
Now, Ashley has hit back at the former manager. The Sports Direct mogul has claimed that Benitez left simply to seek more money elsewhere. Ashley said, “if you come out and say the things he did you would think it was football club first, Rafa second, money third. I’d say it was money first, Rafa, then the club last. He took the totally soft option, took the money and went to China.”
In his time with the club, Benitez was loved by the Newcastle faithful. Ashley, meanwhile, is a hugely unpopular figure with the fans – and for good reason. This is reflected in many Newcastle supporters’ responses to his comments.
I hope Rafa responds to this
— David Del Borrello (@davorrello) July 26, 2019
What is everything he could do to keep Rafa mean
What was the final offer he made him
Length of contract
What were Rafas requests
The articles are nothing more than PR & rambling insinuations
Where are the FACTS#NUFC
— Keith Allen (@KeithAllen517) July 26, 2019
Why peddle these lies ?
— Mark (@mja1980) July 26, 2019
All it contains is lies, I hope Rafa responds but he’s too professional to get drawn into slanging match & said his piece in his statement when his contract ended..
I know which of the two I’d believe any day of the week 🤷🏻♂️
— Jase ⚫️⚪️ (@jasonhebron) July 26, 2019
Give over Ashley more lies if he really wanted Rafa to stay he would of sat down. The contact would of be signed and sealed long before the season ended. #NUFC
— Dave Saunders (@DaveSau19811995) July 27, 2019
Its an interesting read but you cannot believe anything he says. Actions speak louder than words. #ashleyout
— The Wise Wallsender (@WiseWallsender) July 26, 2019
— Carol Collis-Palmer (@CarolCollis5) July 26, 2019
MA’s latest address is a familiar plea for sympathy.12 years of decline and it’s still somehow not his fault. Why make a show of accepting your mistakes only to repeat them? #nufc ‘s futile attempts to land a new coach tell us all we need to know about Rafa’s reasons for leaving!
— The Clocktoys (@clocktoys) July 26, 2019