Mike Ashley has danced this particular jig before.

Rafa Benitez, the Newcastle United manager, believes his side need January reinforcements. The lack of movement in the opening 10 days of the window suggests that Ashley disagrees.

It was the same last winter as the Magpies’ promotion push faltered, while Kevin Keegan, Alan Pardew and John Carver have all similarly failed to convince the owner that mid-season investment is necessary.

Keegan suffered again in the subsequent summer and left; Ashley’s reputation has never recovered.

And the lack of urgency this month hints at the same complacency creeping in. Benitez, like Keegan, will surely not stand for this much longer.

Keegan is, was and will always remain a legend on Tyneside and he was never leaving for another club, but Benitez could, probably would and possibly should.

Links to Stoke City arose on Tuesday, reported by the Sentinel in the Potteries, as Peter Coates eyes a significant upgrade on the departed Mark Hughes.

It would be a step down for Benitez – who has twice masterminded victories over Stoke this season – but he could at least find ambitious owners on his arrival at the bet365 Stadium.

The same cannot be said for Ashley, but Newcastle and their manager do not even need the owner to pump more money into the club right now; the demand is simply for the 53-year-old, holidaying until Wednesday, to sanction the spending of the funds already there.

Ashley has not blinked when in this position in the past – particularly as three wins in five might look handy enough to an absent-minded observer – but then, previously, there has not been a £300million takeover bid in the pipeline.

Benitez is a key feature in the attraction of Newcastle and Ashley must recognise that.

The Champions League winner will be gone – and, with him, Amanda Staveley’s interest – if the owner does not get his act together soon.

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