According to a report in the Sun, the offer given to Rafa Benitez by beleaguered owner Mike Ashley is “non-negotiable”, leaving the manager “unhappy” with aspects of it.
The budget for players is said to be around £50 million, but of course Rafa could bolster that with the sale of a few fringe players, and maybe even one or two of the senior members of the squad.
The report adds that the contract offer is a “short-term extension”, which is not ideal, but it would give both sides time to assess the situation on a longer basis.
It would also ensure that Benitez is in the dugout for next season, and that may be a crucial factor in any negotiations regarding the sale of the club.
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Although fans will be slightly disappointed at a short deal – with them hoping for the Spaniard to commit his long-term future to the club – they are likely to accept it, considering the position the club currently finds itself in.
Will Rafa accept the conditions the club are enforcing upon him?
But the worry is whether Rafa is open to working under the restraints placed upon him.
He will know that he will not struggle to find another club, should he opt against Mike Ashley’s limited proposal. But he also has a mutual adoration for the Newcastle supporters, and he may reluctantly accept it, rather than let the fans down.
Should he leave, which at this moment in time looks more likely than him staying, there will not be many Geordies who would blame him, or feel that he owed them anything.
It is remarkable that he has put up with all the conditions Ashley has placed on him for as long as he has, and he has largely done a miraculous job, with one hand proverbially tied behind his back.
We will hope Rafa surprises us again – as he did when we were relegated – by signing a new deal to stay, for however long is on offer.