Rafa Benitez has finally responded on his personal blog over the weekend following Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley’s interview with the Daily Mail – saying Ashley is a “leopard that can’t change its spots”.
Benitez left the club at the end of his contract earlier this summer, after talks between the Spanish manager, Lee Charnley and Ashley failed to come to an agreement. Ashley has since been criticised for failing to keep Benitez.
Indeed, Benitez has used his blog to criticise the Toon hierarchy, in a somewhat subtle way. In his first post, he claimed he had more meetings with his Dalian Yifang bosses in one week, than his three-year stay at Newcastle.
Ashley told the Mail that Benitez chose to earn more money at China rather than remain at Newcastle, claiming it was “impossible” to keep the ex-Liverpool manager. Now, Benitez has taken another swipe at Ashley.
“The hotel we’re staying in, ‘The Castle’, reminds me daily of the good times I had in Newcastle and of the ongoing kindness and positivity I received there from the fans,” Benitez said.
“They appreciated the commitment we had when choosing to stay at Newcastle, and the efforts we made to continue being there, but unfortunately, as they say in England, ‘a leopard can’t change its spots’.
“A lot of things kept us attached to the club, to the city, and to its fans, but a lack of project as well as unfulfilled promises meant we had to look forwards and follow a different path.”
TBR’s view – Benitez has the last laugh after Newcastle exit
Benitez has indeed had the last laugh. Ashley cannot say anything other than his claim that Benitez wanted more pay to stay at Newcastle, and that his head had been turned by China.
If Ashley comes out with another bewildering claim about Benitez and his real intentions on Tyneside, then fans may begin to question the credibility of the Toon owner’s revelations.
Benitez has acted with class, even if he remains understandably bitter about losing a job he obviously cared about. Taking Salomon Rondon will have struck a stinging blow.