Newcastle United this morning announced the departure of Rafael Benitez after the two parties failed to reach an agreement on a contract extension. As the club descends into anarchy, where do they go from here? What next for the ultimate soap opera football club?
With Benitez having gone, I spoke at length about how bad that would be for the club in this article yesterday. It’s an absolutely appalling piece of poor judgement from the club. This is a club who offered Alan Pardew an 8-year deal after one good season back in 2012 (He still has one year left on that by the way), but they won’t give possibly the greatest manager the club has ever had the assurances he wants. It’s mind boggling.
Rafa is gone and now, the search for his successor gets underway. Bookies currently have Garry Monk, Mikel Arteta, Jose Mourinho and weirdly, Chris Hughton as the favourites for the job. The reality is, Newcastle fans won’t care who gets the job because whoever it is, they aren’t Rafa Benitez.
I can’t see it being Jose, not while Ashley is still at the helm – he doesn’t deal well with owners like Ashley. It won’t be Mikel Arteta, why would he leave Manchester City working under the best manager in the world to join a sinking ship? Lets not forget he turned down Arsenal last summer, so Newcastle haven’t got a chance. Chris Hughton will NOT go back to the club after the way he was treated by the hierarchy when he left back in 2010.
That leaves Garry Monk. He’s recently been sacked by Birmingham City and is one of the better young, British managers. Although he doesn’t have a whole lot of experience managing in the Premier League, he could do a job at Newcastle. He doesn’t bring the excitement or the ‘wow’ factor that a Benitez or a Mourinho would bring, but he could do a job.
For me though, he’s not your long term option. He’s the man you bring in on a temporary one year basis to maybe steady the ship while you search for the manager who will take the club forward. Whether that will be the case or not is a different matter. I also don’t see Newcastle fans getting behind that appointment, following on from Rafa, Monk isn’t exactly the type of appointment they expect.
In case you have forgotten, there is still a potential takeover looming over the club as the Bin Zayed Group claim they’re edging ever closer to completing the purchase of Newcastle United.
If that does happen before the season starts, it’s very possible that the reason Rafa has been allowed to leave is because BZG don’t see him as the man they want at the helm. It’s worth noting that a few weeks back, there were newspaper reports saying exactly that. Those same reports claimed BZG wanted to appoint Jose Mourinho as the new man at St James’ Park.
At the moment, the takeover is the only ray of hope in what is a pretty bleak period of time for the Magpies. If it happens, it won’t fix everything straight away but it will be a big step towards doing so. Mike Ashley has been a cancer within Newcastle United for 11 years and BZG look to be the only potential treatment at the moment – fingers crossed they can get a deal done.
What next for the fans?
There’s been talk of boycotts, with fan movement @IfRafagoeswego leading the charge. The likelihood is, unless it’s a universal movement, boycotting will only add to the problems of the club.
If it’s going to work, the fans need to be united in their efforts and make a statement. In 2014, while protesting, Lazio fans boycotted to protest against their owner. Pictures of the match showed there was almost as many people on the pitch as there were in the stands. Less than ten days later, the club offered the supporters talks to fix the issues.
If Newcastle fans want to be heard, they need to organise something like that. If they can’t do that then what you’re likely to see is patches of empty seats at Newcastle home games throughout the season – that isn’t going to make any difference to Ashley’s income or anything else. All that does is impact the morale of the team who can see that sections of their fans have stopped supporting them.
What was that old saying Newcastle fans had again? “Support the team, not the regime?” It definitely applies here. I know it’s hard to continue support through all the mounds of nonsense they’ve had to deal with, but unless you can organise something that will really make a statement, it’s the only thing you can do.
In the end, the wrong person has left Newcastle this summer. We all wanted this to be the year we saw the back of Ashley and prepared for life with a new owner and Rafa Benitez at the helm. Instead, what we’ve got is yet another sad indictment as the sheer ineptitude demonstrated by Ashley and his henchmen in what has been a heavily depressing 11 years.
Mike, do us all a favour and get out of football. You’re a cancerous roach sucking the life out of one of English football’s most historic and well supported clubs.