Rafa Benitez has officially called it quits at Newcastle United after failing to reach an agreement for a contract extension.
The day Newcastle United supporters have been dreading unfortunately arrived as the club made an official announcement that Rafa Benitez is leaving. Some folks, myself included, were overly optimistic deep down thinking that a deal would be reached this week, but that did not happen. The terms provided by Mike Ashley did not impress Benitez and the Spaniard is out the door.
What Benitez achieved at Newcastle United with the lack of financial support over the last three years is admirable and worth praising. Under the guidance of the former Champions League winner, Newcastle United earned immediate promotion to the Premier League in 2016, earned a shocking top 10 finish in 2017 and earned a 13th place finish this past season.
Moreover, Benitez managed to lead the Magpies to some impressive victories against unlikely opponents over the last two seasons, such as Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City. He and his scouting staff, which is led by Steve Nickson, brought in top talent at bargain prices, most notably Martin Dubravka and Fabian Schar. The club also broke their transfer record with Benitez in charge when the Toon purchased Miguel Almiron for £21M in January.
Impact of Departure
No one really knows what will happen next, but Newcastle United need to act quickly to find a replacement manager before players return for training on July 4th. It is unclear where Benitez will go from here, but he did attract the attention of teams in Italy, France, Scotland and China. Last week he was even being linked to the managerial vacancy at Chelsea.
Players like Ayoze Perez and Salomon Rondon will be disappointed by the news of Benitez’s departure. The attacking duo flourished under Benitez as they had the best seasons of their careers, but Perez will definitely leave the Toon and a deal for Rondon is probably dead in the water since Ashley did not want him back due to his age.
The Toon Army is currently fuming as Ashley’s regime has reached a new low by failing to meet the demands of Benitez. The club will certainly struggle selling season tickets and club merchandise. The Geordies are faithful to their team, but Benitez’s departure could very well impact attendance numbers at St. James’ Park.
There is a lot to think about and process at the moment. The club will have their hands full over the next few weeks trying to find a new manager and new transfer targets. At this time, all we can do as supporters is say thank you to Rafa Benitez for taking a chance on our club, for taking us back to the Premier League and keeping us up there in respectable fashion.
Gracias por todo, Rafa!