With the first match of the Premier League season now less than five weeks away and the first pre-season friendly scheduled for the end of this week, Premier League teams should begin looking at their squads as nearing completion with the business of summer transfers having made their mark. However, with Newcastle United only having brought on one player who was not with the club last season, news of Rafa Benítez’s frustration with management has continued to surface.
The latest and (to date) most damning report comes from The Daily Mail courtesy of Craig Hope, who claims that general lack of activity, coupled with moves for Tammy Abraham and Willy Caballero being scuppered by hesitation on the part of Newcastle management, have left Benítez irked at the state of things with the club. Perhaps most scathing is the report that Rafa has not been advised as to the funds available for transfers this window. Hope claims that:
Benítez does not know how much money is in the transfer kitty at Newcastle - he was told by owner Mike Ashley in May that he could have ‘every penny the club generates’ - and there is a feeling that players will have to be moved on in certain positions before others arrive.
Given reports, it should be no surprise that Sky Bet has given Rafa the best odds to be the first Premier League manager to leave his post this upcoming season, with 4/1 odds being given that the Spaniard will leave Tyneside for greener pastures. It’s difficult to fault Benítez for his frustrations, as Newcastle’s two first team acquisitions this window have come courtesy of activating the purchase clause in Christian Atsu’s loan deal negotiated last summer and the activation of Florian Lejeune’s release clause, a deal that took more than five weeks to complete.
Who would be to blame should Rafa leave Newcastle?
This poll is closed
Rafa - he needs to understand that Newcastle isn’t Real Madrid
Mike Ashley - he should sell the club if he isn’t invested in its success
Also of interest in betting markets is that Arsène Wenger, who spent the end of the last season answering questions about his future at Arsenal, is given longer odds on being the first manager out the door at his current club (50/1) than the possibility of no managers being sacked whatsoever for the entire season (33/1).
Should Rafa depart, Newcastle supporters will be left to acknowledge that there would likely be no one of his quality coming in to replace him, and that the Newcastle United front office had spoiled a golden opportunity in allowing matters to get to this point to begin with. This also comes at an interesting time when Mike Ashley is reported to be hearing offers to sell the club, and one would have to wonder the effect Rafa’s departure would have on that situation.
It is, of course, worth noting that the transfer window has been officially open for only a week and a half, and that there is still time to correct course for the upcoming season. However, last season Newcastle had managed to bring in five new players by July 11th, four of whom played significant minutes for the side. July 11th also happened to be the day of the club’s first signing two summers ago before being relegated to the Championship. Whether United replicates the success of last season or the failure of the season prior will largely be decided in how it manages not only the remaining month and a half of the transfer window, but also its relationship with Rafa.