What next for Rafa Benitez?
Rafa Benitez has done an incredible job at Newcastle United this season after securing Premier League survival on a minimal budget. “Net-spend” is a very popular term that football fans have been using to justify their position and over the summer of 2017 Newcastle net spend was one of the lowest at only £10.2m. Benitez has managed massive clubs and the financial handcuffs which the Ashley regime has imposed on him he will have found frustrating. Jamie Carragher once described Rafa as a very “political” manager and someone who is unable to keep council. Throughout the year, Rafa has been critical of the club’s transfer policy and it seems like promises that were made to him when he took the job in 2016 have been broken.
Rafa has improved Newcastle defensively hugely and it is so refreshing to see such an organised back line. However, the issue has been scoring and creating goals. Gayle/Joselu/Perez have not contributed a huge amount of goals and also do not create a huge amount of chances. Dwight Gayle has shown this year that he is a trier but does not have the speed/sharpness to lead the line in the Premier League. Perez has showed glimpses that he could be a quality player but has also flattered to deceive in large parts. Joselu has been extremely poor and almost fortunate that Rafa has kept faith with him. The Alexander Mitrovic situation has divided fans with many fans feel that he has not been given a chance. His excellent form for Fulham even though in the second tier may mean Rafa will be willing to give him a second chance at St James Park. Slimani has been too injury prone during his loan spell and I feel Newcastle will decline the opportunity to make it a permanent move due to this.
Rafa will be looking at funds to improve his front line as that may mean the club are able to push on and challenge the likes of Everton/Burnley/Leicester. I think realistically Rafa would be looking for 2 strikers in the £20m plus region and also the permanent addition of wonderkid Kennedy. However, if Rafa is not given the funds he may decide that it is time for him to return to the top table of European football. The vacancy at Arsenal would interest any top coach and Benitez’s ability to organise defences would make him an attractive option. Were Newcastle fans to lose Rafa Benitez it would cause more discord between themselves and owner Mike Ashley.
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