Rafael Benitez has held his weekly press conference. Predictably, he was asked about his future with Newcastle United. I am certain we are all watching this with a large pit in our collective stomach, fully expecting that the other shoe will drop and we will be right where we were a year ago. Full time coach/manager gone, short-term replacement gone and no direction. For some reason, however, there is a teeny tiny feeling in the back of our minds that just won't go away. A little hope that Rafa, against all logic and convention, will stay with the club. Why? He has refused to rule out sticking with us.
“He is professional and so I am. We first have analysed what went wrong.
“But the meetings were quite positive. We will continue.
“If I decide to come here it’s because it’s a massive club and we have the fans. I am flattered with them.
“There will be more meetings.”
There is also this:
If I’m here and discussing it, it’s because there is a chance [I will stay), a good chance. We have to keep talking. I’m happy with everything here, I’m near my family, which is important and I still think this is a huge club with massive potential.
"There is a... good chance [I will stay]". He is talking with the club. He values the fans. This pretty much nails on that tomorrow's match will be a full-on Rafa love fest... which will be fun. With everything that has happened over the past several years, it feels nice to see some love from the manager's chair. There is one formidable hurdle, however. More from The Telegraph:
We need a structure to allow the club to compete. I am happy to discuss all of these things. I am pleased with the first conversation. I'm really flattered by the fans, because it has been amazing and I know it can be even more positive in the future.
“I think that they know. I will not lie, I am considering. I am quite happy with everything here. Can we improve things? Can we change some things? Then it will be easier for me to make a decision. Obviously these conversations [with Charnley] are with this idea”
We know what the changes need to be. We know that the club has at least made appearance-based attempts to "change". We also know that the club are in full-on PR mode, trying to give the fans
what they want the words they want to hear to ensure that the club are again far and away the best-attended club in the Championship. So that merchandise money continues to flow in. On this level, none of us would be surprised to see the back side of Rafa in the next couple of weeks.
On the flip side, however, there is absolutely no reason for Rafa Benitez to be parroting "target words" or whatever other Steve Blackian ideas may have been exercised by the Steve McClaren regime. He stands nothing to lose by throwing his hands up and repeating that favorite Newcastle United mantra of recent times... "I tried." We have to assume that he is serious about trying to stay. He is serious about the need to change the way this club does things (duh, right?). The club needs to be just as serious about changing. If they commit to the changes that Rafa needs to succeed, the potential for long-term benefit across the board is HUGE.
It all depends on Lee Charnley and the rest of whatever the leadership structure is going to look like taking this just as seriously as it appears that Rafa is. There's that pit in my stomach again....