He’s still saying all of the right things as far as the club are concerned.
Rafa Benitez’s most recent press conference had the Spaniard suggesting that he truly believes he can make Newcastle a top eight Premier League club, albeit his most immediate priority is survival.
No wins, bottom of the table and with things looking more and more desperate after each passing week, one has to admire Rafa’s optimism.
Some supporters continue to hang on his every word, and barely any will blame him for the club’s perilous position, which is something positive to hold onto at least.
However, with no real likelihood of receiving the financial backing required from Mike Ashley and Co., the question has to be asked as to whether it might be beneficial for Benitez to take a sabbatical.
Managing Director, Lee Charnley, has tried to pin the Spaniard down to a new contract on more than one occasion in the recent past, and as of this moment, it’s still to be signed.
A prior suggestion that the way in which the club was being run was wrong also suggests that beneath the party line rhetoric, Benitez isn’t looking to hang around for long in any event.
The board certainly can’t afford to sack a man who has transformed the mood at the club, and who, perhaps uniquely, isn’t under supporter pressure to go despite the team propping up the rest of the Premier League.
The next few weeks are therefore crucial for both Benitez and Newcastle.
He should be able to judge how well he will be backed in the January transfer window by mid-December, and the more precarious the position at that point, arguably the bigger the cash injection required.
If Ashley is content to keep his hands – and his money – in his pockets, then Benitez would be foolish to stick around on Tyneside. But perhaps the captain that stays with his sinking ship is an analogy that is perfectly apt here.
Rafa has noted the attachment he has with the area on more than one occasion, and without explicitly knowing his frame of mind, one could reasonably deduce that he might consider it unprofessional to desert the club when they need him most.
Whether his stock will rise or fall in football circles on that basis is hard to predict at this stage.
What’s clear, however, is that he has one of the biggest decisions of his career to make before the year is out.
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