“I didn’t have any other option,” Rafa Benitez explains reasoning for leaving Newcastle and criticises Mike Ashley’s running of the club

“I didn’t have any other option,” Rafa Benitez explains reasoning for leaving Newcastle and criticises Mike Ashley’s running of the club

Benitez explains exit

In a recent interview with The Athletic, Rafa Benitez, former Newcastle manager, has explained his relationship with the owner of the Magpies, Mike Ashley, and why it ultimately ended the way it did.

The Spanish coach left Newcastle in 2019 after the expiration of his contract. Benitez, despite getting relegated with Newcastle, helped the club back to the Premier League and helped them push onto maintaining their top-flight status. However, continual friction with the ownership and Mike Ashley based around a lack of financial backing in transfer windows led to him not extending his contract.

The former Champions League-winning coach revealed many of the issues which he found at St. James’ Park.

“I didn’t have any other option,” he says when asked about his departure from the club. “When we had our last meeting, I was sure there would be no investment in the academy or the training ground. I could see there was no hope we would be progressing or improving. They didn’t want to invest. They didn’t want to have a project or exploit the potential of the club. It was just to stay there (in the Premier League).”

“At that point, they knew 100 per cent that I would not be staying. I told them I was cleaning out my office. They were playing games at the end. If it was just about staying there, I can understand that. But you have to tell me before and don’t play games. That’s it.”

Rafa Benitez

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND – MAY 07: Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez celebrates after winning the Sky Bet Championship Title after the match between Newcastle United and Barnsley at St James’ Park on May 7, 2017 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Since Benitez’s departure, Steve Bruce has taken over and the club has admittedly done exactly what Rafa said that it would. It has remained in and around the middle of the bottom half of the table looking only to survive without a vision of improving and pushing themselves further up.

There has been, admittedly, some investment with Callum Wilson arriving at the club and Joelinton moving from Hoffenheim, however, the latter has failed to impress since his record deal.

It is difficult not to consider what would have been the case should Benitez have been promised the amount of money spent at the club since his departure.

Bruce claims progress is priority

Despite their league position, manager Steve Bruce has said that he has tried to progress Newcastle United through the table. The club currently sit 12th in the league with a game in hand over several of the sides above them on 18 points.

However, there has still been criticism that the club has not made more progress considering the amount of money spent in the transfer window. Bruce has been defiant in his words considering the criticism.

“Since I’ve walked through the door I’ve tried to take the club forward,” he said. “It’s slow, and you have to accept that people are going to say there’s been no progress. I’d beg to differ, but people have their opinions.

“I didn’t have any other option,” Rafa Benitez explains reasoning for leaving Newcastle and criticises Mike Ashley’s running of the club

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND – JANUARY 01: Steve Bruce, Manager of Newcastle United looks on during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Leicester City at St. James Park on January 01, 2020 in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

“You have to batten down the hatches and firmly believe in what you’re doing. But I’ve been up against it before in my career. Thankfully I’ve been around the block a bit.”

“My job’s about the accumulation of points over a 10-month season,” he said. “And if you’re with a team expected to be in the bottom half of the Premier League it’s always going to be tough. There’s going to be periods when you go up and down. Unfortunately, we’ve had a poor week. We have to accept it.”

Newcastle have a match against Sheffield United sandwiched between huge clashes with Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal. Based on the results of these games, the position of Newcastle in the table could significantly change.

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This article was edited by Josh Barker.

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# Team MP D P
1 Manchester United FC 18 10 37
2 Manchester City FC 17 16 35
3 Leicester City FC 18 12 35
4 Liverpool FC 18 16 34
5 Tottenham Hotspur FC 18 16 33
6 Everton FC 17 7 32
7 Chelsea FC 18 12 29
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Fernandes, Bruno Manchester United FC 11
Vardy, Jamie Leicester City FC 11
Calvert-Lewin, Dominic Everton FC 11
Bamford, Patrick Leeds United 10
Zaha, Wilfried Crystal Palace FC 8
Wilson, Callum Newcastle United FC 8
Rashford, Marcus Manchester United FC 7
Ings, Danny Southampton FC 7
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